ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Patti LuPone Remembers Les Miz High Note; Heidi Blickenstaff Recalls Mermaid Low Note

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07 Jan 2013

Heidi Blickenstaff
Heidi Blickenstaff from Now. Here. This. was also at the Chatterbox, and I asked her about doing The Little Mermaid. She was offered the stand-by position for Sherie Rene Scott (Ursula, The Sea Witch) but she didn’t want to be offstage every night, so they offered her a role as Carlotta, Ariel’s maid in Act Two. When she was negotiating her contract, she told them that [title of show] might move to Broadway and, in case it does, she needed to be able to leave The Little Mermaid. She thinks they agreed right away because they thought there was no way that a little Off-Broadway musical with four people would come to Broadway. Cut to, [title of show] opened on Broadway, and she left The Little Mermaid. While we were talking about the show, Hunter asked her to tell us about the crazy contradictory line she had to say. Heidi sighed and told us that as Carlotta, she was Ariel’s cheerleader and positive influence in Act Two. But, in the middle of the act, Ariel had to sing a song where all hope is lost. There wasn’t any character close to Ariel who could give her an impetus to sing such a sad song, so it fell to Heidi. Heidi remembered that she was given the negative line to say to Ariel during tech in Denver. Since she was used to collaborating on [title of show], she had no qualms about stopping rehearsal and yelling out into the darkness, “Hi! Can I ask a question about one of my lines?” Silence. Then… “Yes, Heidi?” Heidi smiled and said, “I just don’t think my character would say something like this to Ariel. It kinda goes against what I told her a few scenes back. I don’t think it makes sense.” Silence. Then, in a professional tone, “Heidi, just say the line and leave." Never a clearer direction hath been given.

So, Hunter and Jeff laughed when they told me about being in the Broadway audience and first hearing “Carlotta” encourage Ariel to pursue her dreams no matter what and then a few scenes later dourly inform Ariel, “For us, dear, dreams don’t come true.” For the record, Heidi told us that they’ve been workshopping a new script of the show (she’s playing Ursula) and not only is the line gone, but so is Carlotta! I guess she did say the line and leave…the entire show!

Right now, I’m in my beautiful hotel room. So New Orleans-esque; big shutters on the door, a ceiling fan above the bed and a heated swimming pool outside. Delish! I’m only in the middle of season two of "Downton Abbey," and someone next door is blasting the season three premiere. I want to bang loudly on the wall and yell, "Lower your effing TV!," but I’m scared that Patti has the room next to mine! Peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)

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