Onstage & Backstage: One Snowstorm, Two Laptops and Countless Almost-Disasters!

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: One Snowstorm, Two Laptops and Countless Almost-Disasters!
A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.
Max Crumm
Max Crumm

What a week! We only slept two hours last night (more on that later) but I'm going to focus so I can write down everything that happened: I flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday (James was flying on Wednesday and Juli on Friday) to start rehearsals for the Actors Fund concert of Disaster!. The first snag that happened was when Barrett Foa, who was supposed to play Scott opposite Adam Pascal, wound up not being able to do the concert because he had a conflict with his TV show "NCIS:L.A." Ah!!!

We only had a few days til the concert! We called Max Crumm who played the role in the Off-Broadway production to see if he was available. Max is playing the role of Matt in The Fantasticks and was planning on doing four shows all weekend, but when he told the production he wanted to do a concert for The Actors Fund, they gave him Saturday and Sunday off! James and I used our frequent flyer miles to book him a flight to L.A. and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Until we checked the weather report. Max was supposed to fly on Saturday morning and James read that there might be a storm that day. He asked Max if could fly Friday night, just in case there were weather delays. The Fantasticks gave him Friday night off as well and he wound up on the same flight as Juli. Brava reading the weather report because the Saturday flight that Max was scheduled for was canceled! Not since Clytemnestra.


Rehearsals went great and on Thursday, James and I went out to dinner with Jack. At 9:30 we got back to the hotel just in time to see Kerry Butler with five shopping bags. Why? Because she went to Disneyland right after rehearsal. Kerry has two kids and goes to Disney around five times a year. The "she has two kids" comment is a red herring; Kerry has always gone to Disney five times a year because she is obsessed. As a matter of fact, this time she went without her kids and said it was "incredible." She got to go on the rides she wanted to go on and, most importantly, she was able to stand on the "single rider" line which was much shorter and allowed her to go on the new "Cars" ride numerous times. Kerry is not only childlike in her love for Disney; she also still looks like a child. Although we worked together as kids, I've gone through the appropriate aging process and she has not. How has that manifested itself? How about the fact that when she ordered wine at a restaurant with us on Saturday, she was carded! We are almost the same age! I assumed we had one of those waiters who are crazily over-cautious so I decided to find out for sure. Here's how that conversation went:

SETH (TO WAITER): So, if I ordered alcohol, would you card me?
Point taken. We were out with producer Hunter Arnold (It's Only A Play) and his husband Jim. Hunter made a point of saying, "Let's just be clear. The waiter wanted to know for sure if Kerry was born before 1995." Literally mind-boggling to me. And Botox-inducing.

Kerry right after she was carded
Kerry right after she was carded

Hunter told us that he was an actor when he was younger. He regaled us with a story about a show he was doing when he was 19 and an unfortunate onstage fight. While he was struggling, his earring got stuck on the sweater of another actor. The earring got pulled out of his ear… which ripped the lobe in two! Of course, he was in full "the show must go on" mode so he called 911 and asked what he could do for the next hour until he went to the hospital. They told him to do what they would do; superglue the ear closed. Seriously! So, he got superglue and sealed up the wound. After finishing the show, he went to the hospital and they informed him that he was supposed to close the wound and put superglue on the outside to keep it closed. Instead, he put it on either side of the wound and sealed it closed. Thus followed a horrifying amount of time where they had to painfully soak his ear in solvent to melt away the glue. Not surprisingly, he soon transitioned from actor to producer.

Jennifer Simard was there to recreate her role as the Nun and one night we went to dinner down the block from the Coronet Theater. She had been there years ago starring in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change which she was originated in New York. Right across the street was a live porn show and one night, her co-star convinced the whole cast to go. Jen said there was a nude lady sitting a foot away from her. She didn't know how to respond; was she supposed to act "turned on"? Sit there blank-faced? After mulling over options, she went into her default audience mode; co-depedently supportive. She said she spent the whole time smiling non-stop, looking supportive and nodding encouragingly. I'm sure that's exactly what an entirely nude woman wants on a Saturday at midnight.

The ladies of DISASTER and Seth! Rachel York, Lacretta Nicole and Jennifer Simard.
The ladies of DISASTER and Seth! Rachel York, Lacretta Nicole and Jennifer Simard.

PS. On my second day in L.A., Jen texted me and asked if I'd like to join her for a Flywheel class. I've done my share of spin classes (biking) and Jen told me it was similar but better. She also told me it was incredibly difficult and hashtagged her text message to me with #TheDayJenniferTriedToKillMe. Well, I decided to try out the class and was ready to fade out in the middle if it was a nightmare, but I wound up thinking it wasn't that hard. During the class, the lights are off but when they came on, Jennifer was fuming. She claims that she was soaked in sweat, panting and completely red-faced while I was breathing calmly and looked "camera ready." I guess I still got it!

Speaking of "still got it," Jen got a Drama Desk and Drama League nomination for her performance in Disaster! and she was spectacular on Sunday. So much so that I was texted by a major film writer during intermission telling me that he now wants to put her in a film and just now a humongous TV executive emailed me asking me for her info and adding that "EVERYONE was talking about her." Brava!

It's hard to say who was a stand-out because everyone really was so amazing. It was especially exciting to me and Jack because almost everyone in the show had never done it before so they went from a rehearsal room with no audience (aka silence), to crazy amounts of laughs after every joke. So thrilling! On the morning of the day of the show, James saw that New York was supposed to get snow. It looked like it could be a big storm so he checked the airlines and saw that they were allowing people to change their flights so they could miss the storm. We were scheduled for a 10:30 AM flight and he got nervous that it would be canceled. He called United and asked to get on the 6 AM flight (that Max Crumm was already on) and they told him that they weren't waiving the change fee because the flights were definitely going out as planned. He explained to them that the other airlines were letting people change and they assured him that they were decidedly not. Finally, in the middle of the day, after the dress rehearsal, they allowed him to change… but not to the 6 AM flight. He had an option of 7:30 AM or 8:30 AM. He chose 7:30. After the show, we got back to the hotel at 11 PM... and our flight was canceled! But the 8:30 AM was still on. What? And, PS, sold out. Not to worry, I guess, because they put us on an even later flight. 11:30 AM! Idjits!

We love L.A., but we've been away from our dogs and kitten for almost a week and we didn't know if we'd be able to get someone to give Sonora her insulin shots if we didn't get back. James went online and while the cast went out to celebrate, he sat in the room with two computers opened at the same time while waiting on hold with United. Juli was on a separate reservation and the website said she could get on the flight with Max. But there was only one seat, so James and I couldn't join her. Do we take the 11:30 they put us on and hope for the best? Do we take the 8 AM and go through Chicago? What if we get stuck there? Finally, James had our reservation on one computer and Juli's on the other and he was able to get her onto Max's flight to Newark at 6 AM and get the two of us onto a 6:05 AM flight to JFK. Yay! We joined the cast, had dinner and got to bed at 1:30 AM. Our alarm then went off at 3:10. Not by accident. That's the time we set it for. And yet, we were so happy to wake up early because we knew we'd get on those flights! We arrived at LAX with plenty of time and when James entered the airport, he saw a women with a United nametag that was there to help people.

JAMES: Hi! We're taking the early flight to New York.
UNITED WORKED: All the flights have been cancelled. You're not getting out today.
OK, people. Take that in. Then…
JAMES: (Devastated… then checking the board). It says on the board that the 6 AM and 6:05 are on time.
UNITED WORKER: Oh. You're right.

We're obsessed with her. What is the purpose of her job? To be negative? Can my mother apply for this job?

Suffice it to say, we all got on our flights and I'm sending this column in from the air.

OK, everyone! Stay safe in this storm and if you want to binge TV watch, watch the entire "Hello, Ladies" series. It is so hilarious and yet moving. We loved it! Peace out and stay warm. (Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)

The men of <i>Disaster</i>
The men of Disaster
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