Every week I worry that nothing interesting will happen and I'll have no material for my column. The good news is, every time something nightmare-ish happens I think, "That was horrific. But at least I'll have a column this Monday." That's what happened on Sunday.
Here's the backstory: Public schools in New York have spring break this week and Juli happened to mention that whenever we go out of town, I'm always working. James and Juli come on my various cruises and Provincetown escapades, but it usually involves me saying, "Go have fun while I'm in tech rehearsal." So, James and I decided to take a vacation where we did no work. We asked Juli where she wanted to go and she told us she didn't care as long as it was hot and sunny. James and I had miles on JetBlue and saw that it was cheap to fly to Bermuda so we booked three tickets and found a nice hotel on the beach. Yay!
Then, we were talking to our good friend Andrea Martin and she told us she was taking a family vacation at the same time... to Bermuda! Ah! So fun! Also, we happened to have booked that exact same flight as Andrea. Perfect! I fly all the time so James asked when we should leave the apartment and make an 8 AM flight. There's usually never traffic on Sunday mornings so I said 6:20 AM, knowing that if we left a little later, we'd still be fine. Cut to, we leave at a respectable 6:30 and we're in the cab going to the airport. There's no traffic so we're set to arrive around 7:05, leaving us plenty of time for the security line. Just to expedite it all, I asked James to call Andrea as we got near JFK and ask what gate we were at. We were all sitting in the back seat of the cab and when he calls, I only hear James' part of the conversation:
JAMES: Hi, Andrea! (suddenly concerned) What? (more concerned) Oh, no! That's terrible!
He spoke a little while longer. He finally hangs up and, after hearing such a sympathetic/concerned tone, I expect him to turn to me and tell me that something bad happened to Andrea. I knew she was traveling with her brother and sister and figured that one of them got sick and couldn't come. So, imagine my surprise when this is what I hear:
JAMES: (shaking his head) Well, that stinks. OK, bye Andrea. (Turns to me) Andrea's at the gate but she just told me that we're past the time when we can check in. We missed our flight. OK, first of all, I'm obsessed with him talking to her for a full minute and, for some reason, giving her sympathy! Why didn't he immediately turn to me and yell, "We missed our flight!" Why the calm, concerned and comforting tone with Andrea instead of connecting and giving important information to his actual husband!?! Andrea told us later that it was the mark of a true co-dependent; Instead of having a breakdown that our vacation was ruined, James was more concerned with Andrea's disappointment that we missed our flight.
Back to the cab; we realized that, as opposed to a domestic flight where you can check in up to 45 minutes early, you have to check in an hour early for an international flight. We forgot Bermuda is international! Andrea and her family had checked-in at 6:59 and they were told that they ju-u-u-u-u-ust made it and no one else could check in after that. She immediately texted us but my ringer was off so I didn't get it. When James called, she thought he was responding to the text and she laid the bad news on him. Anyhoo, we ran out of the cab and James and Juli went on the security line, hoping for the best. We had only one suitcase to check and I brought it to curbside check-in, hoping that they wouldn't be so literal about the hour cut-off (it was 7:05). After waiting a while, I got to the head of the line and was told there was no way they could check the bag. Ah! I ran inside and went to the help desk. The guy again told me he couldn't check my bag. He then got on his computer and I hoped he was going to tell me that we could all get on a flight that left in an hour. Instead, he told me there was one ticket available on the next flight to Bermuda... and it left the next day! What!? We paid for three days at a resort in Bermuda! For all three of us! He then suggested we try Florida. What the-? (That's the part of the story Andrea is obsessed with).
I'd had it! But then I remembered something he said: Since we had all checked in and gotten our boarding passes last night, we were fine getting on the plane. But he couldn't check my luggage. Well, what if I didn't have luggage to check? I asked if I could leave my suitcase at the airport for someone to come pick up. He told me that I could do it... if they came before my flight boarded in the next ten minutes. How would that be possible? I don't know anyone who has an apartment in the JFK air traffic control tower. I then asked if I could just put the suitcase in a locker. He then told me that all storage was in a completely different terminal and I wouldn't make it back for my flight. I was devastated. I felt like there was no possible way to salvage it. Turns out, the FAA won't "make an exception" because they recognize you from a fun YouTube video where you deconstruct Barbra and Bea Arthur.
Then I got an idea; I called James frantically and told him I was going to bring the suitcase to an arrivals luggage carousel and just leave it there. It was perfect! The luggage people would think that someone forgot their bag and we could pick it up on the way home in three days. Problem solved! James told me that it wouldn't work because all of his clothes were in the suitcase. "Who cares!!?" I yelled. "You'll buy underwear in Bermuda!" He was about to mention that all of Juli's asthma medicine was in that bag, but I didn't quite hear him because it's hard to hear someone after you've both angrily hung up a phone. The next thing I knew, James had gotten out of the security line ran to meet me with our two carry-on's. He realized there was still room in those bags! What did that mean? Well, we flung open our big suitcase on the floor and grabbed everything out of it, cramming it into our two carry on's. Then we carried the (basically brand new) suitcase near a trash receptacle and left it there. Yes, perhaps we left something that will attract a concerned citizen who would "see something" and "say something" but all bets were off. We had to get on that plane! We got through the security line and ran to the gate. When we arrived, we saw Andrea Martin who was waiting for us with her mouth completely agape. We all couldn't believe we made it! Yes, we had to throw out a perfectly good suitcase and, yes, James and I almost ended our marriage and, yes, we left a suitcase sitting in JFK which may be being opened by the bomb squad as I write this, but we got on that flight! End of the story: Juli's only requirement was that our vacation area be hot and sunny and when we landed, Bermuda was freezing and rainy. Next time, I won't try so hard to make a flight.
I had the great Patti LuPone on my SiriusXM show, "Seth Speaks" this week because she's doing her own show at 54 Below and she's about to come back to Broadway in a play by Douglas Carter Beane with Michael Urie as her co-star. We were talking about the version of "Trouble" from The Music Man that she does in her Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda show. She told us that when she performs it around the country, she gets a local high school choir to sing the back-up! Such a great idea! She's coming to Patchogue, Long Island April 18 and is going to be backed up by the high school choir from Commack. That's where she grew up, and when she told us, she got tears in her eyes because the current choir director had the same one she had in high school! She's come full circle!
Afterwards, I played a game with her where she had to recreate line readings from different songs she's recorded. I did a little video about the game here and I'm obsessed with her two different versions of the line "A customer"! Watch here.
I also had Luba Mason come on "Seth Speaks" because she's doing a show at 54 Below April 9 (Details at LubaMason.com). I first met Luba when we were both doing the revival of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Matthew Broderick in the mid-90's where she played the comic role of Heddy LaRue. Right after that, she wanted to get an audition to replace Linda Eder in Jekyll & Hyde but they wouldn't see her. She was known as a comedienne from How To Succeed… and Linda Eder was the hottest singer on Broadway. Thankfully, she knew the music director and he was able to get her in. She had two auditions and got the part! This is, yet again, a great message for actors. Don't listen to the powers-that-be when they tell you you're wrong for a part! You have to try every angle you have to get that audition. That's how Betty Buckley got the lead in Promises, Promises, Terrence Mann got Javert in Les Misérables and Rebecca Luker got Marion Paroo in The Music Man revival. All of them had been denied auditions!
Anyhoo, turns out, Luba started on Broadway years ago but for her first big Broadway show (Late Nite Comic) she had a different name. Why? Well, she was overweight and her real name was Luba Gregus. She said her name also sounded overweight. I first thought she was crazy, then I said it. Try it! Lu-ba Greg-us. Doesn't it sound like someone lumbering into the room? She decided to change it to…Kim Freshwater. I guess Kim sounds "thinner" than Luba, but does "Freshwater" sound thinner? Or more like the fake last name of a Native American Princess dabbling in porn?
On another note: James and I were in the process of being trained to become adoptive parents here in NYC when we found out that the agency we were working with was de-funded by Mayor de Blasio's Administration for Children's Services (ACS). There are 1,300 foster kids that need permanent homes and they consist mainly of hard-to-place kids. Why are they hard to place? Because of the simple reason that they're over 10 years old. ACS ended funding to the only two agencies that worked to get older foster kids adopted. We started a petition on Change.org and so many amazing people have been supportive; Judd Apatow, Megan Hilty, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Benanti, Josh Gad, Lauren Graham, Nia Vardalos, Debra Messing, Anika Larsen, Julie Halston, Christopher Jackson, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rosie Perez, Perez Hilton, Hunter Bell, Kristen Johnston, Brian d'Arcy James, Kerry Butler, Rosie O'Donnell, Patricia Heaton, Dan Bucatinsky and Lin-Manuel Miranda to name some of the starry names! Please sign and share!
Finally, I'm coming to the beautiful Poconos this weekend! I'm doing Deconstructing Broadway this Saturday afternoon so come and see deconstruct Cher performing all the roles in West Side Story and The Osmond's singing Fiddler On The Roof. Just in time for Passover! L'chaim!
(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.)