ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Remembering Snow Days on Broadway and Talking Musicals With Steven Pasquale

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27 Jan 2014

Paul Castree
Paul Castree
Photo by Kevin H. Lin

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


I'm on my way to New Orleans to do a show with Sutton Foster. It's freezing in New York and I just found out New Orleans is due for a winter storm. Yay?

Last week New York had a snowstorm and we were petrified that no one would show up at Disaster! We wound up having a really great audience (!) and I remembered back to a big snowstorm we had back in the mid-90's, when I was playing in the pit for Grease. The storm was much, much bigger than the one we had last week. It was so big that Broadway shows cancelled their performances... all of them except for Grease.

Of course, the show was basically sold out that night because there weren't any other shows to go to. A few months later was the Easter Bonnet Competition, which is the big fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Paul Castree (who's currently starring in Disaster! as Tony DelVecchio) wrote the lyrics for the Grease sketch, which a parody of "The Telephone Hour" from Bye Bye Birdie. During the part that goes, "When you gotta go, then you gotta go" he changed the lyrics to, "Twenty feet of snow, we still had a show!" and the crowd went wild.

Cut to, around a year later, Rosie O'Donnell called me and asked me to write parodies for her TV show. It was the November sweeps (when ratings really count) and she wanted Broadway shows to come on and sing their signature songs but with lyrics about her show, written by me. She asked me to make them like the songs I wrote for Gypsy of the Year and The Easter Bonnet Competition. I had written lots of the sketches for Grease and lots of opening numbers and I knew she had been in the audience for all those benefits, and I was so happy that the work I had done for charity helped me get this great job. One day in passing she told me that the most amazing lyric I had written, and pretty much the lyric that got me the job, was, "Twenty feet of snow, we still had a show." I was mortified. I nodded politely, didn't mention the words "Paul" or "Castree"... and cashed my paycheck.

It's so great doing Disaster! with Paul. His role is based on the disaster movie archetype of the person who won't acknowledge he's about to cause a disaster, and I play the person who's desperately trying to warn everyone of the upcoming disaster. We love that most of our scenes are opposite each other and we keep coming up with comedy bits throughout the show. He has to leave because he's been cast in the upcoming tour of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo, both from "American Idol." Paul and I met doing Forever Plaid Off-Broadway and since then we've done Grease and Saturday Night Fever together (with me in the pit). This is the first show where we really play opposite each other, and I'm sad he's leaving next week. I'm also "sad" that he refuses to age. He's older than me but does not look it.


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