Onstage & Backstage: Behind-the-Scenes Mishaps at Disaster! and Secrets About She Loves Me

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: Behind-the-Scenes Mishaps at Disaster! and Secrets About She Loves Me
It's the day before opening, and Seth dishes on the hilarious missed (and extra) entrances at his Broadway show, plus lyricist Sheldon Harnick reveals who almost directed the original She Loves Me.

OMG! The video highlight reel for Disaster! just came out. It’s SO cool for me to see how the show looks from the front! I LOVE IT!

And now…phew! It’s the end of the onslaught of all the major critics! If you don’t know, Broadway used to have all the critics come on opening night and review the show. As a matter of fact, the show would begin at an earlier time that night so the critics could write their reviews and get them in by deadline. Well, nowadays the shows still starts early on opening night (usually around 6:30) but that’s so people can go out and enjoy the party without staying up super late. Critics now come throughout the five performances before opening night. So, we had critics coming on Thursday night and ending with the Sunday matinee. Thankfully, every critic’s performance went great. That’s not to say things didn’t go wrong…as a matter of fact, things went wrong that had never gone wrong before!

Most of them were minuscule like someone’s mic feeding back or the prop on my belt in my first scene falling off right before I entered, but the craziest mishap was right after “I Am Woman.” Baylee Littrell plays twins in the show: 11-year-olds Ben and Lisa. (P.S. Baylee is also the son of Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell!) Anyhoo, he always finishes his duet of “I Am Woman” where he’s dressed as Lisa and singing with Kerry Butler and then, during a 15-second set change, he becomes Ben and starts the next scene. Right after his first line, I make my entrance. Anyhoo, I’m waiting in the wings for my entrance, expecting to see him onstage as Ben saying his next line….and I suddenly see he’s still dressed as Lisa…. and standing next to me! I thought he maybe went into a critics-night-panic and completely forgot what scene it was. I went into action-mode by loudly whispering “You’re supposed to be Ben! GET OUT THERE!” and all but pushed him onstage. He obediently went out and said his first line…and that’s when I realized the set hadn’t changed. Turns out, the set had not come out for the next scene so the stage manager had called him offstage. I was completely unaware and simply saw him standing in the wings and basically forced him to walk onto an empty stage where he said his line, looked around and saw no other actors or set and then quickly exited the stage. Of course, the audience loved it, but I was mortified!!! I couldn’t believe I made/forced him to go out. However, I didn’t do it on purpose…like a certain prankster named Roger Bart!

Rudetsky&#39;s dad, his wife Gloria, Seth and Roger Bart after a critics performance!<br/>
Rudetsky's dad, his wife Gloria, Seth and Roger Bart after a critics performance!

Roger, who’s also starring in Disaster! and is hi-larious, was in Big River on Broadway and was waiting in the wings with one of his co-stars. They were chatting, and Roger suddenly made a move to go onstage, as if they had been distracted by their chatting and almost missed their entrance. The other actor also began going onstage. The difference was, Roger immediately stopped and stayed in the wings. The other actor did indeed enter…but he didn’t enter the scene they were supposed to be in. It was actually the scene before. The actor wound up entering a scene that was taking place in an inappropriate locale. Yes, he walked onstage in the middle of what was supposed to be the Mississippi River! Not since the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar.

P.S. There’s a great article on Baylee from E! Online.

P.P.S. Speaking of mistakes in Disaster! I wrote last week about how Adam Pascal forgot his entrance during one of the songs in Act One and all you heard from offstage was “Sh*t!”! I was talking with our swing Paul Castree about it and he is so dryly funny:

SETH: So, when Adam forgot to come on, we all heard, “Sh*t!” He didn’t know his mic was on!
PAUL: Did he know the show was on?


Jack Plotnick, Jennifer Simar, Sutton Foster and Seth Rudetsky backstage at <i>Disaster!</i>
Jack Plotnick, Jennifer Simar, Sutton Foster and Seth Rudetsky backstage at Disaster!

Also! I forgot to write about the aftermath of The Today Show. It was so fun performing that Friday morning, and afterward we had to get back to the theatre, but we were in costume so we couldn’t walk or take a cab. We had to take a chartered bus that the producers paid for. Kerry Butler (who plays Marianne, the feminist reporter) and Jennifer Simard (who plays the nun) got to the bus first. They were waiting for the rest of the cast for a really long time. Finally, they looked out the bus window and saw all of us on another bus! Well, not only did they get on the wrong bus and sit there for 20 minutes, they got on bus going to JFK that belonged to…Prince! I would have loved for Prince to have gotten on his bus and seen a ’70s reporter and a nun sitting in the front seat. This is what is sounds like when doves cry…and when two actresses get kicked off a bus.

I had a great time at Seth Speaks interviewing the brilliant Sheldon Harnick. Right now he has two shows running on Broadway: Fiddler On The Roof and She Loves Me. He told us that he and Jerry Bock originally wanted Gower Champion to direct She Loves Me, but Gower wasn’t available. They remembered that they had seen A Family Affair a few years before. During previews, the show was in trouble and Hal Prince (who had only stage managed and produced up until that time) was called in to take over as director. Bock and Harnick saw the troubled version of A Family Affair and then saw it again after Hal Prince stepped in. While the show still had problem spots that were probably un-fixable, they thought Hal had done a fantastic job in making the show work.

Sheldon Harnick and Seth Rudetsky
Sheldon Harnick and Seth Rudetsky

They asked their She Loves Me producer to ask Hal Prince to direct, and he accepted. A few days later, they got a call telling them that Gower Champion was now available!!! AH! Instead of reneging on their offer to Hal Prince, they honored it. And thus started Hal Prince’s illustrious directing career!! She Loves Me got great reviews, however, it didn’t last long on Broadway. No one really knows why, but they all believed in it for years and years afterward, though no one was really interested. Then it was revived in 1993 and suddenly the show began to be done all over the country! It’s now part of the musical theatre canon and it’s about to open with Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski. I saw the 1993 revival and was (not surprisingly) obsessed with Judy Kuhn. Here she is in that production singing the classic “Ice Cream”! (P.S. That’s a high B!)

OK, I’m off to finish prepping for opening night: I have to buy (non-leather) shoes and a (non-leather) belt, pick up opening night gifts, get an emergency facial and make an appearance on Hoda Kotb’s SiriusXM show. Basically, it’s a day of fun!!

Seth Rudetsky shopping for his <i>Disaster!</i> opening night outfit
Seth Rudetsky shopping for his Disaster! opening night outfit

I’ll give opening night details next week!

P.S. You can still use my discount code through the end of March by visiting here (Code: THM1). Peace out!

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