ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Rehearsing [title of show]

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Rehearsing [title of show]
A week in the life of actor, writer, music director and Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky.

Tyler Maynard and [title of show] co-creator Susan Blackwell
Tyler Maynard and [title of show] co-creator Susan Blackwell Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Hello from lovely New Jersey Transit. "Lovely" means crowded and hot, right? I'm on the train to get to [title of show] rehearsal. It's a lovely hour ride each way (see previous definition of "lovely"). The other fun part is there are young pretty college girls sitting in front of me passing around juice laced with alcohol. It's completely appropriate because it's 10:30 in the morning. Regardless, I'm loving rehearsal. We spent the first three days learning the music, and I appreciate the score even more than I did before. It's so lean, and all of the lyrics are so specific to the characters and [AUDIO-LEFT]the "journey" (not to sound too actor-y) they're on. Thankfully, my co-star Tyler Maynard has the high notes of a young Patti LuPone, so I've manipulated him into taking the top part in every harmony section. At one point, I finally offered to switch a section with him, but he saw through my generous offer and mentioned that the "high note" I was willing to take was an F. As Samantha Stevens would say… "Well?"

On the first day of rehearsal, there was the signature fun "meet and greet" that is done at most shows, AKA everyone introduces themselves and the producers usually splurge for bagels and some sassy side dishes. Well, George Street went all out, and the food spread was a lot more than just bagels. There were cakes and cheeses and general deliciousness. The other pertinent information is that David Saint, the artistic director of George Street, listens to my Sirius/XM show. Unfortunately, this created a perfect storm because he happened to hear me talk on the radio about going on a diet for [title of show] and, during the meet and greet, as the all the scrumptious food was unveiled, I was unceremoniously handed a bucket that had printed on the outside: "Seth TOS Diet." It was filled to the brim with veggies and fruit. How helpful…and devastating. We were all talking about the number "Monkeys and Playbills," where my character has a stack of Playbills from crazily obscure flop musicals. The stage management team has been frantically searching eBay for the Playbills, but when David Saint heard the names of the shows he was like, "Where's the obscure part? I have them all at home." Turns out, he grew up in Boston, and he saw every single show that passed through there before Broadway. And there were some doozies he got to see! Dude, Got Tu Go Disco, Prettybelle. He told me that he has the original program for Follies that describes the place and time of the show simply as "A party on the stage of this theater." It was then promptly changed. Why? Well, it didn't literally say, "The show itself is a party on the stage of this theater" it just said there was a party on the stage of the theater. Therefore, half the audience stayed after the show expecting a party!

Lauren Kennedy

Certain mornings, Tyler and I have been able to get a ride in the spacious car driven by Lauren Kennedy. I cannot wait til we get into tech rehearsals and have to entertain ourselves while they set lights for hours on end because I'm sure that Lauren has some juicy stories to tell. Let me simply say that she was in The Ten Commandments with Val Kilmer, Lone Star Love with Randy Quaid and Sunset Boulevard…with Faye Dunaway! She has enough material to last through a Coast of Utopia tech. Speaking of Faye Dunaway, when Tyler was in high school, the tour of Master Class starring Faye came through his hometown of Dayton. Tyler told me that he and his theatre friends heard that Faye was on a Dayton rampage; first she tried to get the hotel staff fired because they wouldn't re-do her room, and then she tried to get the backstage crew of the theatre fired. The Victoria Theater in Dayton has one night a year where the best theatre students from Ohio high schools put on a big musical. Of course, Tyler was cast every year in the shows, so he knew all the backstage crew (who had been working there most of their adult lives), and he and his friends were so angry that she would try to have their jobs taken away. They wanted to protest the way she was treating people, so a teenaged Tyler got a group of his friends together to wait at the stage door and when she exited, they all brandished hangers and chanted, "No wire hangers!" over and over again. Tyler tried to describe the way she looked but couldn't because he said he has never seen that much rage on a face before. Suffice it to say, no one got fired from the theatre or the hotel. And Faye has not toured through Ohio since. But, hopefully, she is coming to [title of show] opening night.

Lauren and Tyler have known each other for years and have done a few shows together. Tyler told me one story about the high-belting Lauren. One night they went out after the show and someone offered them alcohol. Tyler assumed Lauren would pass it up because she had so much belting in the show but when he mentioned that, she scoffed and said, "It's just a D." Of course, to most women, that's a crazy high note to belt. Cut to the next night, when the high D came, Lauren nailed it, and as she held it, she turned around and triumphantly locked eyes with Tyler. That eye-locking moment then became a nightly tradition in the show.

Tony Vincent in American Idiot
photo by Paul Kolnik

Last night I saw American Idiot and then led a talkback for the people who had purchased tickets through the Actors Fund. I was obsessed/terrified watching Christina Sajous fly around in her number. She flew across the stage, landed, spun and did it all while belting. It was so cool. I asked the cast what the deal is with the understudy for that part. Can you imagine having to go on for the first time? Tony Vincent said that his wife covers the role, and she had to go on last week for the first time. She was a nervous wreck because Tony had recently done two shows where he flew and then was dropped on his head! Hmm…does it explain his current hairstyle? Speaking of which, someone asked about it, and he replied that he didn't want to do the signature "I'm bald and evil," so he went for the "I'm half bald and evil." I asked about upkeep, and he said he has to shave it every three days. I then asked if he used a Lady Gillette, and I did not receive a clear answer.

OK. More traveling this week. This Thursday night I'm at the Sewickley Academy in Pittsburgh, and they're sponsoring me to do Deconstructing Broadway for free! That's right, the tickets are free! Go to http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sewickley.org%2Fpage.cfm%3Fp%3D413&h=59ec9 and I'll see you in the 'burgh. And, next Monday night is the Only Make Believe gala at the Shubert Theatre hosted by Sir Ian McKellen and featuring Euan Morton, Brad Oscar and scenes from Broadway 101. Visit www.OnlyMakeBelieve.org for tix. 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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