ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Revisiting My Past With Ralph Macchio and Avoiding Disaster! on Opening Night

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06 Nov 2013

Priscilla Lopez at opening night of <i>Disaster!</i>
Priscilla Lopez at opening night of Disaster!
Photo by Monica Simoes

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


My column usually comes out on Monday, but I could not get it together in time. Why? Because Disaster! officially opened on Monday and I was overwhelmed.

I will get to that, but first, the week that happened before. I had Ralph Macchio on "Seth Speaks," my SiriusXM radio talk show, and I was in an anxiety panic because I had a crazy, obsessed crush on him when I saw in "The Outsiders" back in the early '80's. I knew he's now over 50 and wouldn't look anything like I remembered, but I assumed his eyes would remain the same and I could fantasize he was the same boy I gazed at from the movie theatre audience. Well, his eyes looked the same as did his hair. As did every other aspect of him. What the...?! How the...?!

As soon as he walked in, I had to resist the urge to card him. Is he even 18 yet? He's completely aware of his lack of aging and he said he's dreading the day when his children age past him. After I got over the shock of interviewing a living Dorian Gray, we talked about his theatre career and the time he starred in Cuba and His Teddy Bear with Robert De Niro. De Niro had a much slower process than Ralph and would take big pauses between his lines trying to think of the next one. Ralph would always "help out" by feeding him his next line, which De Niro was decidedly not fond of. On a side note, I must say that sometimes feeding is necessary.

Priscilla Lopez (Broadway's original Morales from A Chorus Line who incidentally came to Disaster's opening night) was starring in A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine and took a week's vacation. When she got back, she was onstage doing the fabulous Jerry Herman song called "The Best In the World." Every chorus begins with "Papa said...you're the best! You're the best in the world!" She told me she was refreshed from her vacation but apparently not quite in the performing mode she needed to be in. She got to the chorus and sang "Papa said…" Suddenly those three dots after "Papa said…" turned into 3,000 dots. Longest pause ever. She literally couldn't remember the lyrics. After a gaping silence, someone offstage finally stage whispered "You're the best!". Phew. Perhaps Ralph Macchio was an ASM back in those days? If you've never heard that amazing song, watch my deconstruction

I also had the hilarious Jackie Hoffman and Mary Testa on my "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox." I asked Jackie about her Jewish family, and it was like she was describing my family. She said that when they hear the phone they pick it up in a panicked state and immediately ask, "Who died?" Mary talked about her career, which included being the swing for Barnum (although she couldn't do any circus tricks) and being the stand-by for Liza Minnelli during The Rink. If you haven't heard about these experiences, watch this Obsessed.


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