ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Travel Is So Broadening

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Travel Is So Broadening
A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

Gavin Creel
Gavin Creel


Like the song from the '70s, I ask, "Where do I begin?" First of all, my computer karma. Every year I do a benefit for the charity Only Make Believe (this year's benefit is in November on Broadway — go to OnlyMakeBelieve.org for deets) and last year the founder got me an iPad as a thank-you gift. Much more functional than the traditional bouquet, and yet I can get on the internet using a bouquet of flowers as easily as I can with the iPad. That is to say, I don't quite know how it works. All right, all [AUDIO-LEFT]right, I'm exaggerating…ish. Regardless, it comes with a built in Nook so I decided that for my upcoming European cruise, instead of carrying around a lot of heavy trashy novels, I would download them. The day before I left, my iPad stopped working. Completely. So now I'm being forced to read books the old-fashioned way. Ugh! It's so tiring to lift each page and turn it. Regardless, that was just part of my computer karma. What also began happening a few weeks ago is that my shift button on my Mac decided to not recognize certain letters. You may think that capitals aren't so important if you happen to be doing your thesis on e.e. cummings and/or Gavin Creel (go to his twitter account to see for yourself) but they are important when you make (some) part of your income as a writer. What keys wouldn't do a capital, you ask? How about i for starters. That's right! The one word I'm obsessed with! Co-dependently, I couldn't spare my computer overnight to let the Mac store fix it, so I adjusted instead. My left shift key was the temperamental one, so I forced myself to get used to using the one on the right. Did you even know there was a shift key on the right? P.S., I just left London, and using the right shift key is as bizarre, weird and uncalled for as their insistence on driving on the wrong side of the road. So, to continue my karma, I brought my broken shift key computer with me since I'd learned to deal with it, but once I got to Europe, it added a new twist: Both my shift keys stopped working…and my return button! I'd call it my "enter button" but I don't have the energy for the requisite sassy double entendre that should follow. My point is, when you don't have a return button, you can't do anything! I type in the name of a website and it literally just stays in the toolbar. Nothing. I hit return and there's less reaction than when Nicole Kidman registers intense surprise. P.S. I had so many ways to go with that joke and I picked the easiest. P.P.S., speaking of jokes, Varla Jean Merman's P-town show is themed around her writing a novel, and at one point she sings a lyric imploring someone to Kindle her Nook. Brava bizarre double meaning! Back to my computer: Thankfully, James happened to be carrying an extra keyboard (!) and it's plugged into my Mac at this moment. Hence I, can capitalize everything. Take that, E. E. Cummings!

Before I write about my European excursion, let me describe the myriad of interviews I conducted before I left. Because I'm gone for two weeks, I doubled up on "Seth Speaks," my new Sirius/XM talk show. I always give the details of when it airs because I'm constantly running into my "biggest fans," who literally know nothing about my new talk show. It's every Sunday at 5 PM on Sirius/XM Stars 107.

Meredith Vieira

Anyhoo, two weeks ago I got a great "get." Isn't that what real journalists call it when they snag someone hot? Or was that just in the film "Anchorman." Either way, I got to interview Meredith Vieira! I asked why she was left "The Today Show," and she mentioned the old chestnut of wanting to spend more time with her family which I was a tad skeptical of until she told me that her wake-up time was 2:30 in the morning. I calculated that in order to get eight hours of sleep, she'd have to be in bed by 6:30 PM! I then amended her "I want to spend more time with my family" sentence to "I want to be able to recognize my family in a crowd." After a little prodding, she revealed that when she was younger, she wanted to be an actress! Perhaps there's still a chance? I don't want to say I see a tour of Legends in her future starring herself and Barbara Walters, but I am slightly psychic. Actually, speaking of Barbara Walters, Meredith said that the first people who tried out for "The View" were herself, Star Jones and Debbie Matenopoulos. They auditioned lots of other people but it was the three ladies who went in first that got the gig. I guess it pays to be first. However, Betty Buckley's theory is that you should always try to be the last girl on the last day because it worked for her when she did 1776 and Promises, Promises. I guess both theories can work. Unfortunately, I'm usually the middle girl on the fourth day.

Kristine Zbornik

I also interviewed the hilarious Kristine Zbornik, who's just back from the 9 to 5 tour, for which she played the secretary obsessed with Mr. Hart. We were reminiscing about our days working in piano bars and she recalled the horrifying/hilarious day when she was singing a torch song and a man at the bar watched her intently. Unfortunatley, as he was watching her, he was also drunkenly urinating! She noticed a puddle forming on the floor near where she was singing and ironically realized she was singing "Cry Me A River." After she finished (and he did, as well), he dropped $40 bucks on the floor and left. I nervously asked her if she took the cash, and she looked at me like I was crazy. She told me, "I picked it up, washed it off and gave it to the cab driver." La vie boheme! O.K. Let me now share the beginning of my European foray. James and I decided to take Juli with us because we didn't want to leave her for such a long period of time, but because it's the beginning of the school year, we needed a tutor — so James' mother is with us as well. As opposed to my usual last-minute entrance to the New York metropolitan airports, the four of us actually got to Newark with plenty of time to spare and therefore decided to get something to eat. We actually went to a sit-down place at the airport and ordered. We were patiently waiting for our food when James casually looked at his watch. Yowtch! Yes, we had plenty of time to spare when we first got to the airport, but that was spent checking in, getting our luggage weighed, going through security, etc. When we realized how crazily late it was, we panicked-ly asked for our food to-go and ran to the gate. I will simply say that I wasn't the last passenger to board…James was. On the flight to London I tried to get a little sleep but was woken up by James' mother making a comment into her microphone. When I awakened, I was surprised to see she wasn't wearing a microphone — she just sounded like it. Not since Merman. Regardless, none of us really had any sleep when we landed at 6:30 AM London time. We assumed we'd get to our hotel by 8 AM and be able to sleep 'til our pre-arranged 12:30 lunch date at Parliament. Turns out, there's such a thing as "customs." We waited for a crazily long length of time. How do the Brits stand it? Now I know why it was no issue when the original version of Les Miz was 3 hours and 20 minutes. After we were finished at Heathrow, we were told that taking a cab to our hotel would include bad traffic and that we should take the "tube" instead. Cut to: the four of us lugging crazily heavy luggage all over the underground and the "speedy" tube still taking so long that we didn't get to our hotel til 10 AM! In conclusion, I was able to sleep from 11 to noon. One hour! And then I had to get dressed nicely for Parliament. I knew we wouldn't go to sleep til that night and I was devastated to know we'd pretty much be without sleep for 48 hours. James tried to mollify me by saying it would only be for 36 hours. That's marginally better!! I will write about our private tour of Parliament next week, but let me say that it was amazing. And that night James and I went to see Road Show starring David Bedella who won the Olivier for playing Satan in Jerry Springer and, more importantly, dated me when he used to live in NYC. I had a whole plan to pit current boyfriend against ex, but I was too exhausted to carry it out. David was fantastic in the show (he played the role Michael Cerveris played) and he not only sounded great but he did some amazing tap dancing. When was the last time there was tapping in a Sondheim show? Well, I guess right now on Broadway every night in Follies. David also just filmed a sitcom pilot for British television that's all about putting up a big musical! He plays the mean choreographer. A perfect role for me if the show becomes a hit and transfers to America and they want to have an American cast. Wait. He is American. I'm out of a job before I even get it? Not cool.

Michael Jibson, David Bedella and Seth's jet lag

Well, by the time Road Show was over we were exhausted but stayed awake to have dinner with David and his co-star Michael Jibson. Afterwards, we stumbled back to our hotel and went to sleep. Everyone had assured us that if we stayed up it would cure our jetlag because we'd be forcing ourselves to get on British time. Unfortunately, Juli took a nap during the day and therefore woke up bright and early… at 2 AM. Since she didn't have a job to go to like Meredith Vieira she instead decided to wake up James' mother every half hour. She then took her charm to our room at 6 AM and I did my signature rolling over while James took her to breakfast. All irritation then shifted to Juli. Throughout this trip, there's always been one of us four whom the other three are mad at. I was so mind-bogglingly cranky at Heathrow I had to tweet that my behavior proves James and I should never be on "The Amazing Race." I was then corrected that couples hating each other is precisely the kind of behavior "Amazing Race" is looking for. Touche.

All right, I'm about to go out to a delicious European dinner so I must bid you adieu, but stay tuned next week for more of my overseas adventure. And my new dating profile which I may be soon be forced to post on Match.com ASAP.

(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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