Onstage & Backstage: The Irony Behind Michael Cerveris' Last Day as a Waiter (at One Restaurant, At Least)

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: The Irony Behind Michael Cerveris' Last Day as a Waiter (at One Restaurant, At Least)
This week's look into the life of Seth Rudetsky uncovers a treasure trove of childhood relics from Seth's house — you won't believe what he found. Plus, what you never knew about Michael Cerveris!

Rehearsals for Disaster! begin in two weeks. Yes! You can still use my discount code for preview tickets! Use FAN1 here for c-h-e-a-p tix!

OK…back to my breakdown: Two weeks! James said that now is the time to clean our apartment because once January 4th comes, all day and night will be about the show. I'm hoping he meant that now is the time he cleans our apartment. Silence? Speaking of cleaning, James and I just helped my mom move out of the house where I grew up. It's been really fun/weeping-inducing looking through all the stuff that's accumulated there over the years. I had to clear my entire bedroom door of Wacky Pack stickers that had been there for 40 years (or if any casting people are reading this, 30 years).


I also found math that I could never, and I mean never do today. How many times does 7776 go into 16, 859? How would I know!?!?! And yet I did…for a very short period of my life.


I found a photo from a college Halloween party where I went as Annie Lennox, my friend Greg Johnson (now an actor) went as James Dean, Emily Nussbaum (now the TV critic for The New Yorker) went as…a clown? A mime? You decide. The other question is, if I'm Annie Lennox why am I doing a port des bras? Again, you decide. 


I also found my fifth grade school picture.  Because I'm not going to be wigged Disaster!, which takes place in the 1970s, I have to grow my hair out. Suffice to say, me and my fifth grade self have the exact same hairstyle right now. It didn't — and doesn't — look good on any age.


And I found an essay I wrote when I was ten where I list my career goals.


I state that I want to be in theatre (spelled pretentious British style) and I define that as "acting, singing, playing a musical instrument." I was actually very moved to read that because I realized that I met the goals I set when I was ten! However, I also write that I would then "move to California" and meet different movie stars. Huh. Well, I know people on YouTube. Does that count? I end the essay by talking about one day playing Carnegie Hall. After reading that part, I got depressed because I don't think my classical piano chops are up to Carnegie Hall standards, but then I remembered I played for Audra back in '99! So, I feel confident I can say to 10-year-old Seth "You've (sort of) met all (some) of your goals!" Here's me and Audra at Carnegie Hall: 

Speaking of Audra, I'm going to be doing a concert with her and her hilarious husband, Will Swenson, on Jan. 2 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Come see us!

Speaking of the south, I spent last Monday in New Orleans with Michael Cerveris. We did a concert at NOCCA on his night off from Fun Home. Turns out, we both saw the original production of Sweeney Todd! I saw it when I was a kid and he saw it in college but the difference is: It was the very first Broadway show he ever saw. I, however, was well into my Broadway addiction at that point. (I had already seen Hair, The Pajame Game, Pippin, Grease, Bubbling Brown Sugar, A Chorus Line, Annie, Ain't Misbehavin' and Platinum. Anybody??) I even went back to Sweeney to check out the new cast of George Hearn and Dorothy Loudon. Thank goodness the internet didn't exist then because I would have been live-tweeting the entire time under the name @WhyCantAnnieBeABoy. Anyhoo, the even bigger difference is that Michael saw the original Sweeney and then, 30 years later, played him on Broadway! Here he is doing "A Little Priest" with Patti LuPone and George Hearn. 

Michael told the audience that one of his survival jobs was being a waiter, but he did not like it. He finally decided he was going to leave the job, but when he showed up to quit he found out that the other waiter scheduled to work that day had quit that morning! The owner of the restaurant had to take over and serve that afternoon, so Michael decided he would quit after his shift so the owner wouldn't be serving by himself. At the end of the day, Michael approached the owner to tell him that, unfortunately, he was quitting. While he was inhaling to speak, the owner said, "Michael, it's not working out with you. I'm letting you go." The chutzpah! I'm not saying that filled him with rage, but look how easily he goes to slit the judges throat in this song: 

Michael said that back in the 90s he was doing a reading of a new musical about Queen that turned into We Will Rock You. One of the other actors was John Cameron Mitchell, and he and Michael became friends. They bonded when Paul Gemingnani (the music director) was teaching "Bohemian Rhapsody" to the cast, and both John and Michael were muttering that if you didn't know that song, you shouldn't be in a musical about Queen. They both knew and loved rock music so John invited Michael to see his rock show at a downtown club called Squeezbox. Michael didn't see it until it opened Off-Broadway and was called Hedwig and the Angry Inch. When John needed a replacement, he asked Michael to take over for him and Michael loved it! Here he is as Hedwig with John: 

James and I went to see Once Upon A Mattress with the hilarious Jackie Hoffman, the stunning-voiced Zak Resnick, the belting/soprano-ing/ballet-ing Jessica Fontana and the legendary Lypsinka. There are so many amazing moments that I don't want to ruin, but if you want to see the hilariousness of Jackie Hoffman, here's a video we did together: 

Plus, here's Lypsinka doing some amazing stuff on the late, great Joan Rivers' show! 

Finally, in honor of Disaster! coming to Broadway — which I wrote with Jack Plotnick (who's directing) — and the fact that it's Xmas week, here's one of my favorite videos: Jack as Evie Harris doing Xmas Evie. Enjoy!! 

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