This Memorial Day would have been my first time in Provincetown this year to start my Broadway concert series with my producer, Mark Cortale. Not surprisingly, it ain’t happening.
We had a ton of Broadway stars scheduled for this summer but the kibosh was put on the concert series because The Art House (where we usually perform) is really small and the singer would be right near the audience. He/she would obviously have to be unmasked to sing and would, therefore, put the audience in danger so the power-that-be told us we could do the concerts…if we put up a plexiglass wall between the singer and the audience. That seemed not conducive to a fun concert so the summer schedule has been ixnayed.
The whole “Yes, you can if…” actually reminds me of when I wanted to audition for the revival of A Chorus Line. I called my agent and told him that I knew the opening dance combination really well and I wanted to audition. The Chorus Line casting peeps told my agent I could audition…if I could guarantee that I dance as well as someone in Movin’ Out! What the-?! Those dancers were from major ballet companies!!! A Chorus Line is old-skool jazz. It was such a crazy qualification. I was outraged! I raged to my agent:
“You tell them to watch the original A Chorus Line performance on the Tony Awards. Some of those dancers are amazing….and there are some who are not that great. You tell them I’m as good as one of those bad dancers!”
MY AGENT (miffed): “OK…I’ll tell him you’re bad.”
ME (Satisfied): Thank you!
Anyhoo…since the plexiglass idea was a no-go, we decided to start an online concert series instead! All the fun unscripted interviews, all the amazing singing! They’re going to be Sundays at 8PM ET and then replayed the next day (so people in different time zones around the world don’t have to watch in the middle of the night!). Tickets start at $20 and our first three stars are Kelli O’Hara, Jeremy Jordan, and Jessie Mueller. People keep asking if we’re airing a previously filmed concert. N-O. These will all be brand new concerts and you can get more info and tickets at TheSethConcertSeries.com.
My first one with Kelli O’Hara streams Sunday May 31 at 8PM ET and we are so excited to perform together again! This is a photo from our show in Las Vegas where Kelli told me that much of her character choice in The Pajama Game was a sassy stance with her hand on her hip.
I had the multi-talented Jane Krakowski on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM radio show, and we immediately talked about the new Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt movie on Netflix. It’s a “choose your own adventure” film…as you watch, you can decide choices that each character makes and there are so many permutations that you can watch it a crazy amount of times and see new stuff each time.
Jane explained she initially got the role of Jacqueline in Kimmy Schmidt at the last minute right before the pilot filmed. Basically, Tina Fey called her and said “Do you want to be on my new show?” Jane didn’t ask any details, said yes, and they started filming.
P.S. Tina and Jane had, of course, already worked together for years on 30 Rock. She played a (basic, untalented) actor and had so many amazing lines like “It’s called upstaging, Liz. It was my major at the Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks.” I love that the name of the school flat-out admits that it’s not an acting school…it’s just tricks you can use to get by. She references the school later by saying, “This is why I hated my first two weeks at the Royal Tampa Academy of Dramatic Tricks: No one knew who was the sluttiest. But I showed them. Oh, I showed them all.”
Jane was on the show for years, including through her pregnancy. During 30 Rock filming, they covered it up by using a trick that Kelly Ripa used on her sitcom. There was a piece of blue tape that was always placed above her baby bump. The camera people knew that if the blue tape got in the shot, it couldn't be used. As she progressed, the blue tape got higher and higher. Right before she gave birth, the tape was basically above her boobs. Her mom called her and said, “Wow! You’re getting so many close-ups suddenly. I love it!”
As for Kimmy Schmidt, Jane didn’t know much about her character before she started filming, but said that it was incredibly easy to figure out who she was from her first episode. Kimmy comes to Jacqueline’s stunning multi-level house in NYC and the beautifully dressed Jacqueline offers her a bottle of (diet) water. (Already, I’m obsessed! Water has zero calories. How can you make it diet!?! ) Kimmy declines and therefore Jacqueline tosses the unopened bottle into the garbage. She hires Kimmy as her assistant and tells her, “Get me up by 10, but don’t wake me up.” She also quickly informs Kimmy that she has to sign an NDA and a DNR. So hilarious! Why does Kimmy have to agree not to be resuscitated!?
Speaking of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, James and I had Carol Kane on Stars in the House. Carol plays an aging hippie landlady. I am so obsessed with the scene where she tells Titus (who is played by Tituss Burgess) about how she doesn’t want to lose “another beautiful black man” again. She explains that her late husband got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and, on his way back, he was shot in the face. Titus reminds her, “By you!” She defends her behavior with, “Well, it was dark out and a black guy was trying to get in bed with me. It was the ’70s!”
Speaking of comedy people, we also had Yeardley Smith, who plays Lisa Simpson on The Simpsons. I love that show so much! Yeardley told us that back in the late ’80s she was in a play at a t-i-n-y theatre in L.A. Amazingly, Bonita Pietila, a casting director, came to see the show and recommended Yeardley when they were casting The Simpsons. At first, Yeardley read for Bart but was immediately told she sounded too much like a girl. They then asked her to try for Lisa. She saw that Lisa was eight, so she pitched her voice a little higher than it naturally was. Her reasoning was people always told her she sounded like a 10-year-old so she thought that if she spoke a little higher, it would make her sound like an eight-year-old. It worked and she’s been doing the voice for more than 30 years! Watch her best moments here.
The show (obviously) doesn’t have a live audience, but she told me that every week they read the new episode and invite people to the reading. So smart! That way they can get an audience reaction to the jokes! And, even though technology would allow the actors to record all their roles separately, they always record it together so they’re able to play off of each other. It’s like a radio play! We asked about the episode where Lisa became a vegetarian.
That episode featured Paul and Linda McCartney and they only agreed to do it if her character would always remain a vegetarian. Forever! And Paul actually checks back in often to make sure nothing has changed. As a fellow vegetarian (with a large dash of judgment towards people who eat meat) I say brava!
We have some great Stars in the House episodes planned for this week! For Star Trek fans, we have the cast of Star Trek: Voyager tonight…and 80 percent of them have been on Broadway! Who knew?
Last night we had a coven of witches and it was so fun! Four different women who’ve starred in Wicked…great stories and great singing!
P.S. We’ve raised over $310,000 for The Actors Fund so far! Watch every episode (and donate) at StarsInTheHouse.com.
Watch and peace out!