How Kelli O'Hara Trumped Harry Connick Jr's April Fool's Day Joke

Seth Rudetsky   How Kelli O'Hara Trumped Harry Connick Jr's April Fool's Day Joke
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth shares some of his favorite stories from the year, from backstage shenanigans at The Pajama Game to why Stephanie J. Block thought Cher was spam.
Seth Rudetsky and Kelli O'Hara
Seth Rudetsky and Kelli O'Hara Myron Martin

Hello from Provincetown! Yes, it’s cold and sleeting, but it’s “another winter in a summer town”—meaning the sales are incredible! James, Juli, and I went to the candy story at the pier and the candy wasn’t specifically marked down…it was literally buy whatever you want, pay whatever you want. I decided to push it and asked the owner if he would actually pay me to take stuff. Silence.

Regardless, we got a bunch of taffy and then a bunch of clothes. Why so many clothes? Well, let’s go back to the morning of our trip: As we were leaving for the airport from our house upstate, Juli casually informed us that her passport was in our New York City apartment. Surely, she has some kind of ID in her wallet, right? Well, her bag was stolen months ago and she never replaced the ID. We then embarked on a 90-minute drive to the airport wondering whether Juli would be able to get on the flight.

James and I had joined CLEAR last year and had a vague memory of signing Juli up as well. If you don’t know, CLEAR is a system where you get your eyes scanned instead of showing ID. Long story short, you can actually get on a plane without typical ID, if you have two other forms of ID, and she had a bank card and a health insurance card, so it all worked out. But the point of my story was James was so distracted as he got into the car when Juli told us she didn’t have ID that he forgot his suitcase! It’s pretty horrific when I’m the most responsible one in the family. Anyhoo, James only had the clothes on his back, so when we got to Provincetown, he had to go clothes shopping. Bizarrely, even though I had suitcase with tons of outfit changes for our time here, I left the clothing store having spent three times as much as him.

Now, onto the showbiz stories. I decided to spend this end-of-the-year column posting my faves from the last year!

Stephanie J Block told us that while The Cher Show was in previews, she started getting emails that looked like they were Spam but were somehow getting through to her personal account. She assumed they were spam because the email address seemed like a corporate name. It was something like The emails were weird and sparse, like, “Hey, girl. I’m coming to the show. ME.”
Stephanie immediately put the email in her spam folder and then deleted it. Then it happened again. “Did you get my email? I’m coming.” Again, Stephanie deleted it. Why was a corporation so chatty with her? Finally, she got a third email and wrote back, “Forgive me. Who is this?” wrote back with the same familiarity and lack of info: “It’s Me! I’m coming!” Stephanie had had it! She literally wrote: “Who. Is. This?!?!?!” She finally received a more revealing email: “It’s me, babe. Cher.” Stephanie was mortified at her relentless lack of responding and then her hostile Who. Is. This!?!? but was also like, “How was I supposed to know it was Cher!?! No one told me your alias was basically the name of a soap company!” End of story, it all worked out (aka Tony Award for Stephanie!)


Seth Rudetsky Kathy Griffin HR

In February, I emailed my friends in L.A. and told them I wanted to have a game night birthday party and was waiting to confirm a locale. Immediately Kathy Griffin wrote back and offered her house! I said yes ASAP! It was so crazy because I don’t know her that well, but I had been in touch with her recently and wanted to invite her. I know her because we did a Rosie O’Donnell rFamily cruise together and then she put me on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. Anyhoo, her house is mind-boggling! It’s right next door to where Kim and Kanye used to live….aka it ain’t a studio apartment. We were telling her how beautiful it is and she was regaling us with stories about her mom’s Midwestern nothing-is-good reaction. Her mom looked at the view from the backyard, which is a completely unobstructed vista of beautiful greenery. Her mom glared at Kathy and asked, “What the hell am I supposed to do? There’s not one Coffee Beanery nearby!” Then she saw the “infinity pool.” Have you seen those? It’s a beautiful design that looks like the pool never ends. Well, her mom walked in the backyard, took one look and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ, Kathleen! They didn’t even finish the goddamn pool!”

I had George Salazar on “Seth Speaks,” my weekly SiriusXM talk show, while he was starring in Be More Chill. But his Broadway debut was in Godspell. I asked him about his worst onstage mishap and he told me that while in Godspell his face started sweating and it made his body mic not work. Well, he was suddenly given a hand mic onstage to use and it threw him. He was about to do a parable with one of the other actresses and there was a lot of physicality he realized he’d have to change since he was holding a mic. The weirdness of having a mic handed to him and having to think about changing some blocking combined into one panic that made him forget all of his lines. He couldn’t remember a thing. He didn’t know what to do, so …he faked his own heart attack. He bent over onstage, started huffing and puffing and gasped (into his microphone), “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

Beverly Jenkins, the stage manager, was in a glass booth above the stage and George could see her. First, he saw her extremely concerned face as she started to get up. Then he saw her realize that he was faking it, and she basically sat back down with a one-eyebrow-raised “Let’s see where you take this” look. The other actress that did the parable with him would normally echo whatever he said so he realized she knew the lines as well! He looked at her, imploring her to give him at least her first line, but instead she “helped” him by asking leading questions: “Where are you thinking of going? What are you thinking of doing there?”

After that weird version of Password, he finally remembered his lines and did the parable. But he was devastated from the whole experience. At intermission, he told Beverly he was way too mortified to go back onstage and he wanted his understudy to finish the show. She told him, “Oh, please! This has happened to everyone! Get back out there and finish the show!” After he told me the story, I pointedly reminded him that it actually doesn’t happen to everyone and he is, in fact, the very first person I’ve ever heard of who faked a heart attack onstage. He took my note and moved on.

Joe Iconis, the composer-lyricist of Be More Chill, joined George at the interview and at the end I asked them to do a song from the show. I filmed it and, man, I was blown away from watching George. The acting and the singing was so fantastic!

I don’t have a lot of contact with actual rock stars, but I’m pals with John Reid, who was the manager Andrew Lloyd Webber in the ’90s and, in terms of rock star credibility, began as the manager for Queen and the manager (and boyfriend) of Elton John, so he’s featured in Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocket Man. I asked John about some of the inaccuracies in Bohemian Rhapsody. First of all, the whole Freddie firing John by kicking him out of the car never happened. Furthermore, there’s a scene where the band leaves an A&R meeting at EMI, the record company not supporting “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and a few minutes later a brick comes flying through the window and Freddie yells, “You’ll be remembered as the person who turned down Queen!” or something like that.

That moment didn’t happen. But something kind of did happen that I’m obsessed with. One day, John had told the band not to do any interviews without clearing them through him. Well, that night they went out to dinner and Freddie told him he had just done an interview! As John puts it “So, we had an argument. He told me to f--- off… and off I f­­---ked and went home.” A little while later, a brick came through John’s window! John looked out the window and there was Freddie with his hands on his hips yelling, “Don’t you ever f-ing leave me in a restaurant again!” And a lot more that can’t be printed. John invited him in to talk it through and, as he tells it, from that point on they had a great relationship!

At one of my shows with Kelli O’Hara, we sang “Small Talk,” a great duet from The Pajama Game that she did on Broadway with Harry Connick, Jr. She was at the piano and busted herself that one of her character “choices” was constantly having her hand placed sassily on her hip. Look!

Kelli O'Hara and Seth Rudetsky
Kelli O'Hara and Seth Rudetsky Myron Martin

Then I was talking to Harry Connick Jr. and he remembered an April Fool’s prank he played on Kelli during the run; before the matinee, he called her and claimed he had bronchitis and couldn’t go on. He then showed up at the theater. He said Kelli wasn’t particularly put out by the fact that he was going to miss the show because she is a Broadway pro and was used to having understudies go on…so his April Fool’s prank was a bust. Well, at the end of Act 1, Harry always pushed Kelli offstage while she sat in a chair. He had to make sure he turned quickly, or else she could get hurt. Well, during that performance, he didn’t make the turn quick enough and she fell off…and broke her wrist! He was mortified and devastated. She didn’t blame him but was too upset/in too much pain to talk to him, so he let her have space and prepared to do Act 2 with her understudy while she went to the hospital. He felt horrible all intermission and wracked with guilt.

Then when Act 2 began, Kelli was shockingly raring to go. Yes, it was true he didn’t quite turn her chair fast enough—but he didn’t break her wrist. That was Kelli’s April Fool’s joke on him! He’s still annoyed because his April Fool’s joke didn’t invoke feelings of guilt, and he claims he is still planning on revenge. (Note: The show was 2006, so I guess he plays the long game?)
I have two shows coming up with Kelli…we’re at the Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale January 3 and then January 9 we’re at Emerson’s Colonial theater. Details and tix at

Watch Kelli and Harry perform from The Pajama Game on the Tony Awards.

Peace out and Happy New Year!

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