On Thursday night, I flew to Arizona for a show at the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center. I flew back Saturday morning, and on Monday I flew back West again to present the upcoming season at the Smith Center in Las Vegas, and then took the red-eye home the same day. Hence my Delta Airlines Diamond status! And horrifically tired, drawn face.
Anyhoo, my new favorite thing on flights is watching episodes of The Mindy Project. I’ve seen every season but forgotten everything so I can watch it again and love it. “Mindy” is such a hilarious character…so brazen in her shallowness. During one episode someone asks her a question and her frustrated response is “Ugh! It’s like when those people on the street ask me if I’m registered to vote; I don’t know!” No awareness that she’s admitting something awful. Brava!
So, last week I had the stars of Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM talk show. However, Celia Gooding (one of the leads) was sick! But don’t despair, my kid Juli interviewed her a few years ago. It was actually when Celia was about to graduate high school and had no idea she was going to be starring in a Broadway show in a few short years! Take a gander:
Speaking of being in high school, I actually knew one of the stars of the show way before she was in high school! In the mid 2000s, Peter Gallagher asked me to do a fundraiser with him and I stayed in his stunning house upstate where I met current Jagged Little Pill star Kathryn Gallagher, who was probably around 6 years old at the time! She plays the role of Bella… but not everyone calls her that. Let me explain: I asked the cast for their biggest onstage mishap, and Derek Klena was mortified to admit his. There’s an extremely tense moment in the show, and he beseechingly asks his mother, “But what about Bella!?!?!” However, for reasons he doesn’t know, he instead asked, “But what about Becca?” He was horrified when he did it… but it then happened a second time! He is still recuperating.
I’ve witnessed many a wrong name onstage. Two of my classics are:
When I was doing The Ritz on Broadway with Rosie Perez, Brooks Ashmanskas (who I understudied) had a moment near the end of the show with the entire cast onstage. At one point, his character uses the nickname “Bunny” and Brooks was supposed to reference it by pointing to himself and saying “Look! It’s me! Bunny!” Well, I guess one night he was tired and his mouth felt the B of “Bunny” forming and defaulted to the B name he had said many more times than Bunny. Yes, Brooks pointed to himself and loudly intoned, “Look! It’s me! Brooks!” It was amazing to actually see what people describe as “the color draining from someone’s face.” Brooks was hilariously mortified. After he kept saying to us, in disbelief “I said my own name on stage.”
The other wrong-name-on-stage happened during my summers at Surflight Theatre, where we did a different musical every week. So, the actors only had one week to learn entire shows while they were performing a different show at night! My point is, memorization was sometimes an issue. At the end of Act 1 of 42nd Street, the grand diva Dorothy Brock falls during a dance number and points to the ingenue Peggy Sawyer and yells “She did it! Sawyer broke my leg!” and then the curtain falls. Well, one night, our Dorothy Brock fell to the floor but this time she somehow forgot Peggy Sawyer’s name and, instead, blamed herself. Yes, she yelled, “She did it! Brock broke my leg.” Of course, my friend Jason, who is hilarious and played Andy Lee, couldn’t let that happen without making a comment so these are actually the lines that were said that night:
DOROTHY BROCK: She did it! Brock broke my leg!
I also had Luke Islam on Seth Speaks and, man, is he talented. He’s the 13-year-old kid who made waves on America’s Got Talent when he sang “She Used To Be Mine” from Waitress. I became obsessed when my sister Beth sent me the video after his first appearance. She told me I had to get him on my radio show and I agreed, but couldn’t figure out how to contact him. Well, turns out, he wound up writing me!
People under 30, when they want to write to someone, they write on Instagram. Why did I go to the expense of making a website (SethRudetsky.com) with a specific tab called “Contact Me” when people only write me on Instagram?!
If you don’t know, if you’re not following the person that writes you, it goes into some weird message holding place. I don’t know why a person’s first instinct isn’t Googling the person and seeing if a website comes up. And, it’s not just kids. When I lost my wallet, and finally traced it to the police, they told me they had tried to contact me...by writing to me on Instagram!!!! Why is that the go-to for contacting people!?!?! Anyhoo, Luke wrote to me to tell me that he is part of a cabaret in March at the Green Room 42 benefiting You Gotta Believe, the only New York agency to focus solely on helping older foster youth find families. I immediately wrote him back and roped him into doing my benefit February 6 for You Gotta Believe and asked him to be on my radio show!
Turns out, he sent in audition videos twice to America’s Got Talent when he was young(er) and didn’t ever hear anything. Then he went to Waitress karaoke night and sang (amazingly) onstage.
The video got posted and one of the comments was a producer from Amercia’s Got Talent asking him to audition. I asked Luke, “Did you say to him, Bitch! I already tried out twice!” He told me that wasn’t his response. Instead, he auditioned and Julianne Hough gave him the “Golden Buzzer” which got him past the preliminary rounds.
He didn’t win, but he really is such a fantastic singer. I’m thrilled he’s going to be at our benefit along with Santino Fontana, Kelli O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Anika Larsen, The Broadway Boys, Laurie Metcalf, Jenn Colella, Ta’Nika Gibson, Judy Gold, and Megan Hilty! Get tickets here.
Speaking of Patina, here is that fabulous series “Breaking Down The Riffs” with Natalie Weiss where she teaches a sassafrass Patina riff! Enjoy and peace out!