Onstage and Backstage: Who Are the New High School Kids Seth is Obsessed With?

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage and Backstage: Who Are the New High School Kids Seth is Obsessed With?
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth performs with Megan Hilty, shares the new high school Dreamgirls video he is obsessed with, and shares backstage stories about Starlight Express.
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Seth Rudetsky Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Wheel! Of! Fortune!

Now, yell that every two minutes.

Yay! You’ve recreated what I’m dealing with right now. No, I’m not in Studio City, California watching that enjoyable game show. I’m at the McCarran airport in Las Vegas where you can’t escape the “Wheel Of Fortune” slot machines that broadcast that signature phrase whether someone is playing it or not. And it’ll be going on for the next hour as I wait for my plane to board. The one time I get to an airport early I wind up getting aurally tortured. Of course, two days ago I left NYC for my flight to Vegas with plenty of time to get to the airport…if it had been 6AM in the morning when I usually fly. Instead, it was rush hour on a Friday. Just going a few blocks took ten minutes. I began to get nervous, so I downloaded WAZE, the app that helps with traffic and tells you when you’ll get somewhere. My flight was at 5:58 and it told me I’d get there at 5:53. I guess I can get through security and onto the plane in five minutes, right?

I went into denial and kept thinking Waze was wrong, and we’d get there with plenty of time. Finally, I texted James and asked him to look for the next flight I could take. I texted because I was too depressed to speak. I knew that even if you don’t have to pay cancellation fees, you have to pay the difference in air fare and the next flight was a lot more money than the one I was scheduled for. Cut to: James called me and said because I’m Mosaic on JetBlue (I have lots of miles), I got the next flight for free! Literally no charges! Yay! I’m so happy I’m Mosaic! I got all those miles because of last year’s Playbill cruise and I’m dying to keep my Mosaic status. I just have to make sure I fly to Vietnam and back again before December 31. A.K.A. Get ready to start paying cancellation fees starting January 1.

Anyhoo, I came to Vegas to do two shows with Megan Hilty at the Smith Center and they went great. The audience was fantastic and Megan sounded so good! We were talking about “Smash” and she said that on the pilot, they pre-recorded her songs, but she sang along full-out when they filmed. Then she watched and thought she should start lipsynching instead while filming because she was making “singers face” as she sang. But then she decided that’s how people look when they actually sing, so she kept doing it. And she always sang along throughout the series. Here she is doing one of my favorites, “Second Hand White Baby Grand,” which we always do in concert. So beautiful!

She has a brand new Christmas CD coming out soon as well as a brand new baby due this Spring!

Last week I had Gordon Greenberg on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM talk show. Gordon and I both sang at Beginnings, the kids nightclub that was located in Something Different, a dessert nightclub. Literally, they only served desserts…A.K.A. the best place ever. We had four-show weekends, and the singers were kids in Broadway shows (all the kids from Annie, Evita, Peter Pan, etc) mixed with kids who wanted to be in Broadway shows (me and Kerry Butler).

Gordon was auditioning like the rest of us, and when he was around 12, Gordon’s agent decided “Gordon Greenberg” was not a good name for a kid actor, and she changed it. But, the one thing she forgot was to tell him! So, one day he was waiting innocently outside an audition room listening to an angry casting agent yell over-and-over “Lee Gordon! Where is LEE GORDON!” while he sat there, blank-faced. It wasn’t until he noticed her holding his picture and resume that he realized he was now a WASP.

The name change worked because he soon got cast in The Little Prince. And, if you look at IBDB.com site, it’s Lee Gordon’s only credit. So many things went wrong with that show, including them firing the little boy who had the lead and making him the understudy (rude!) for the new little boy…future Broadway star, Anthony Rapp! The run was very short, but not short enough for Gordon. It’s not like he didn’t want to be on Broadway, but he wanted one thing more; to see Dreamgirls. It had just opened, and they were on the same schedule. He remembers desperately hoping his show would close so he could see it. He got his wish: Not only did The Little Prince close quickly, it never officially opened! Wowza!

Speaking of which, you have to watch this amazing version of the Dreamgirls Act I fight scene sung with all high school boys. They play it totally real—and please focus on the boy playing Effie who sings it in the original octave. I’m sure it was all his idea and probably had nothing to do with the actual assignment:
TEACHER: “For this assignment, I’d like you to show how anger can have long term effects on our lives. It can be an essay, a cartoon, a poem or whatever you feel answers the question.”
STUDENT: “Um…can it be a fully staged production number?”
TEACHER: “Well, surely you won’t be able to rehearse and perform a number in the limited time we-“
STUDENT: “Hit it!”
I need more info on this kids ASAP!

I had the lovely Frances Ruffelle also on my SiriusXM show. She won a Tony award for playing Eponine, and now she’s getting ready to star as Queenie in The Wild Party in London! She began her musical career on the West End in Starlight Express, as Dinah, the dining car…alongside Ashley the smoking car and Buffy the buffet car. One day, the composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, offered everyone champagne. And everyone drank it. And it was between shows on a Wednesday. And the entire show was on roller skates. Not surprisingly, Frances said that at the night show all three (3) ladies wiped out onstage.

Speaking of which, Andrea McArdle was Ashley on Broadway and she told me that people were constantly wiping out (and breaking bones), and the cast was told to keep skating. So, someone would fall, get injured, and everyone would simply skate past the crumpled body on the track and keep singing. Andrea was perpetrator as well as a victim: She also fell, broke her jaw and everyone skated past her. What’s good for the goose?

Speaking of injuries, Frances recalled doing the Rue Plumet Les Miz scene one day in London and the guy who pokes her with a stick as he sings “Who is this hussy” poked a little too hard. And by “a little too hard,” I mean he literally stabbed her in the chin! She started bleeding up a storm and had to leave during Act I. Talk about “I’m gonna scream!” If you don’t know what part I mean, watch this deconstruction. She sounds amazing!

Speaking of deconstructing, come see me deconstruct tons of Broadway at Largo in Los Angeles on October 29!

And on the East coast you can see Frances LIVE at Joe’s Pub on November 7!

OK, everyone. Next week I’ll write all about the Hillary Clinton Broadway benefit. Peace out!

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