ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Alec Mapa and Gavin Creel in Florida, When It Sizzles

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Alec Mapa and Gavin Creel in Florida, When It Sizzles
A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

Marya Grandy
Marya Grandy


I'm back from Florida. It's such a relief to have the temperature drop from 99 degrees to 97. Anybody? Nobody. It is hot in Florida! Last year, R Family did Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico, which was hot but James and I realized that none of the restaurants needed air conditioning. They kept the doors open and had fans overhead and it was always deliciously comfortable. Not in Florida. There was major air-conditioning needed everywhere — and it still wasn't enough. We realized that Club Med in Ixtapa had [AUDIO-LEFT]the beach next to it, for delightful ocean breezes. There was a body of water next to the one in Florida but I suspected it was man-made. I kept wanting to check somewhere on the shoreline to see if it said "Made in China." The water was just scary enough not to swim in, but wet enough to breed an army of mosquitoes. How many bites on my back, you ask? Juli counted. Let's just say it could be the sequel to "13." Three years later. That's right, 16! Yay?

Everyone had a great time, though. The first big show featured Marya Grandy. who is a fantastic singer and musician. She also has amazing and bizarre comebacks. I sassed her about something and she commented back: "Seth, out of all the things you've said to me, that was the most recent." Check out her delicious "Wizard and I."

Alec Mapa, husband Jamie Hebert and son Zion with Harry Potter makeup.

The comic for the week was Alec Mapa, who is hy-sterical! I interviewed him for my "Seth Speaks" talk show on Sirius/XM Stars (which I broadcast from Club Med) and asked him about being the original understudy for M. Butterfly. He said that while he was doing the show, he lived in a dicey neighborhood in Brooklyn. One day some tough chick sitting on a stoop mentioned that she saw photos of the cast and he wasn't in them. He explained that he was the understudy and would only go on if the star got sick or injured. She looked at him and asked, "You want me to do something about that?" Wow. T. Harding?

The next night, I played for Gavin Creel's act. First, he brought up his collaborator, Robbie Roth, to play guitar and I joined in for the second half. At one point, Gavin started telling parents in the audience to be worried if their kids visited the Club Med bar (where they serve non-alcoholic drinks) because there's a pool table. The parents didn't know what he was talking about…until he then launched into a fantastic version of "Trouble." It was so funny, especially when he replaced River City with the awkward name of the Florida town where the Club Med was located. "Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in Port Saint Lucy." Ow! I literally played the piano with one hand so I could hold the other one over my ear. The extra thing added to this R Family vacation was a theatre camp. We divided the groups into ages: under 8, 8-10, 11-17 and adults. The youngest kids learned "So Long, Farewell," the next group learned "Do Re Mi," the older kids learned "Supercalifragilistixexpalidocious" and the adults learned "All That Jazz." Let me say that the adults were more focused than most Broadway rehearsals I've been in. Everyone was getting to live out their dream of being a Broadway dancer. Dan LuBuono, who has been in Chicago on Broadway more than 4,000 times (!). put the number together, and created an "It Gets Better" video with various R Family guests and their kids. So good! 

Gavin Creel teaching "Supercali…"

Alec Mapa said that there should be a video called "It Doesn't Get Better," aimed at parents of young children, and featuring experienced (and exhausted) parents of teenagers. Juli is 11. Great.

Gavin Creel led the kids doing "Supercali…" and was an amazing teacher. Of course, Juli put her own R Family spin on the song. You know the lyric that goes "Because I was afraid to speak when I was just a lad, my father gave my nose a tweak and told me I was bad"? Juli had everyone change it to, "Because I was afraid to speak when I was just a lad. My fathers gave my nose a tweak and told me I was bad." Brava on the specificity. During the actual performance, Gavin called the kids onstage to do the number. Unfortunately, he apparently wasn't 100 percent clear. The number began with all the kids in place, ready to do their choreography. As Gavin was singing, he did a little turn, and when he faced the kids, he noticed there was a kid from a totally different group standing onstage. By the way, when this kid came onstage, he didn't realize he was in the wrong number and start slinking away, mortified. He was literally standing center stage, ready to go. I don't know where he was ready to go, but he was prepped for something. Gavin stopped singing in the middle of a phrase, started laughing and gently led him off the stage, saying, "this is your time to watch a song."

Kelli Carpenter and Gregg Kaminsky

The amazing thing about R Family vacations are the people and they didn't disappoint. If you don't know, it's run by Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter and it's for gay parents and their kids…and the people who love them. There were so many phenomenal families there. One Mom told us how she's adopted five kids, all of whom have special needs. One boy, who's now a teen, was five when she got him. He's autistic and couldn't speak at all. Cut to, not only does he speak now, but he was in "Supercali…" and nailed all the lyrics and choreography! Michael Lee Scott, who is the creative director of R Family, regaled us with stories all week. We were talking about signature sayings that couples have between themselves and he told me that his boyfriend, who's a great dancer, was once called at the last minute to do a music video. His boyfriend showed up and all the dancers were putting the finishing touches on the dance. The choreographer approached him and went into a long-winded, earnest discussion about the meaning of the dance, using phrases like "dreams lost and re-found" and "destiny unfolded," and summing up the dance by saying that although the story involves love being destroyed, it eventually comes back…even stronger and with, perhaps, more dignity. Michael Lee's boyfriend blandly smiled and said, "Whatever, baby, just show me the steps." Amazing. Now, whenever one of them is babbling, the other one says, "Whatever, baby, just show me the steps." Michael Lee, who is super fit, also said that if he ever gains a little bit of weight, it will immediately go to his love handles. Whenever he gets love handles and happens to be standing with his shirt off, his boyfriend will look at him and say, "Nice a**!" Ouch.

When we got back to NYC, James and I went to see "Super 8" and, due to my constant muttering throughout the film, James told me that I "suck the joy" out of seeing films. Hmph. The sad part is, I didn't mutter half as much as I wanted to. I go crazy when something has a plot hole and I must make my feelings known. I won't write the many issues that I had, but let me ask this to those who saw the film: If the heavyset kid wants no one to even speak about the train crash, why is he getting the film developed to put into his movie? Won't it then be seen by many people? So…no one may speak of it, but it's fine to be in a film, viewed by many? Excellent.

Anyhoo, this week I go back to Provincetown to do my show Thursday-Saturday and then I'll be playing for Adam Pascal over the weekend! If you're near the Cape, come see us at the Art House. www.ptownarthouse.com. And on that note, peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky has played piano in the pits of many Broadway shows including Ragtime, Grease and The Phantom of the Opera. He was the artistic producer/conductor for the first five Actors Fund concerts including Dreamgirls and Hair, which were both recorded. As a performer, he appeared on Broadway in The Ritz and on TV in "All My Children," "Law and Order C.I." and on MTV's "Made" and "Legally Blonde: The Search for the Next Elle Woods." He has written the books "The Q Guide to Broadway" and "Broadway Nights," which was recorded as an audio book on Audible.com. He is currently the afternoon Broadway host on Sirius/XM radio and tours the country doing his comedy show, "Deconstructing Broadway." He can be contacted at his website SethRudetsky.com, where he has posted many video deconstructions.)

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