Watch the Hilarious Prank Chita Rivera Played on Seth Rudetsky

Seth Rudetsky   Watch the Hilarious Prank Chita Rivera Played on Seth Rudetsky
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth reveals how Chita scared him during their out-of-town concert, plus Airplane’s Jerry Zucker is writing a musical!
Seth Rudetsky and Chita Rivera Jenny Anderson/Getty Images

This is a summer of traveling, so being home last week with my doggies (yes, and family) until this coming weekend is big deal. I fly back to Provincetown early Friday morning for two shows with Melissa Ericco (that night and Saturday), then a show with Christine Pedi on Sunday and then a show with Megan Hilty in Cotuit on Monday! Here are some fun videos of each performer:

First, here’s Melissa Errico re-enacting the time her microphone was turned off during the opening number of the Broadway show High Society. It sounds like a problem that many have had…you’re mic is off and the audience can’t hear you. However, this time Melissa’s mic was off but Randy Graff’s microphone was on! And Randy was backstage in her dressing room…warming up! So Melissa was “singing” AKA moving her mouth with no sound coming out and all the audience heard was Randy Graff’s crazy backstage warm up. Hilarious..and devastating!

As for my SiriusXM co-host Christine Pedi, here is her amazing version of Into The Wood’s Witch’s Rap as so many different women…including the original Witch, Bernadette Peters. It’s so crazily on fleek as no one says anymore.

Finally, there’s Megan Hilty. Back when she was about to graduate college, she was cast as Audrey in the national tour of Little Shop Of Horrors. But before she was offered the official contract, they called to tell her that Seymour was going to be Anthony Rapp. Yay, she yelled until they told her that Anthony would look age inappropriate next to her 23-year-old self so she was being ixnayed. Don’t cry! She wound up becoming Kristin Chenoweth’s standby in Wicked five minutes later. Here she is with me, singing the duet from Little Shop that almost was…but was never meant to be.

After all these concerts (plus one more late-summer with Megan Hilty in Provincetown on Sunday, August 6) I fly to Europe for the fancy Playbill cruise on a riverboat down the Rhine!

Now, back to last week. I began in Cotuit with Chita Rivera. There is nothing like doing a show with her. Her story is literally historic!! “Jerry Robbins this, Bob Fosse that, Gwen Verdon this, Leonard Bernstein that…” INCREDIBLE! However, her sense of humor almost made me p** my pants. And not because I was laughing! We stayed at this beautiful Bed and Breakfast called the Captain Kelly House and after the show, she wanted to “see my room” as she claimed. She casually asked what was in my closet and when I opened it, I found the two inappropriate pink fuzzy slippers she had left for me. She was filled with glee over her surprise gift and then fled the room telling me there was another surprise.

Well, just so you know, I’m a big baby about bugs, rodents etc. Today at lunch, I jumped because I thought I saw something crawling next to my lunch and it was actually the shadow from my arm next to my plate. Seriously! James just glared at me. Anyhoo, I got ready for bed in Cotuit and when I pulled down the covers, I did my signature jump in the air again. There on the sheets was what looked like a giant rat. It was actually a stuffed animal. Who left it? Well, attached was a card that read “Love, Chita.” How dare-? Who’s going to pay to dryclean my pajama bottoms?

Here’s a video I took right after it happened:

On SiriusXM, I hosted film pioneer Jerry Zucker who created the brilliant comedic masterpiece Airplane with his brother and their childhood friend, Jim Abrahams. He told me that when they were growing up together, they would always watch old serious movies and make each other laugh by asking, “What if this happened? Or what if he said that?” Those kind of jokes eventually turned into the film script for Airplane and they soon got a studio to agree to do it. What I was so inspired by was that Jerry insisted he himself direct the film. I love people that have a vision and stick to it. The studio asked him to choose someone with more experience and that he could direct the sequel but he was adamant. It wasn’t that the direction was so difficult for someone else…he told me it’s not very difficult to film people who are all facing straight ahead! He wanted to direct it because he knew the style of the film.

There couldn’t be any commenting on what was happening. He didn’t want actors “playing it straight,” he wanted actors to literally play it straight. Well, he got what he asked for and was the director. He also wanted control over the casting because there were many names being pitched to him that he didn’t want. At one point, they were pushing Barry Manilow on him. (P.S. For what part? I love Barry but who would he have been?) Regardless, Jerry got final say on casting. However, there were other things they wanted that were more difficult to get from the studio.

Jerry told Michael Eisner that they wanted the whole film in black in white and for the airplane to be a propeller plane. Michael explained that a contemporary audience would identify more with a color film and the audience were all used to being on jet planes. Still, Jerry wanted it in black and white so Michael told him he could film it in black and white. But it would have to be in a different studio! Hence the film was in color on a jet.

Jerry was in town because because he’s written a musical! For many years people have asked him to turn Airplane into a musical and he never felt it was right. Finally, he decided to start work on a new musical. It’s called Intermission and is pays homage to all signature Broadway musical conventions…like Airplane did with the Airport franchise. They just did a reading of it that he co-directed with Tony Award winner (and my old pal) Chris Gattelli—who also choreographed it. If it’s as funny as his slew of amazing films, it’s going to be amazing.

Click here to watch classic scenes from Airplane, still so funny all of these years later—and note how everyone is playing is completely real.

I also had Mary Stout on the show talking about the NYMF musical Numbers Nerds, which is like Spelling Bee but about mathletes. I immediately asked Mary about the opening lines of [title of show]. If you don’t know, the show is about two composer-lyricist Broadway-wannabes and in the first scene they have a casual conversation on the phone where one asks, “Did you hear that Mary Stout got hit by a hot dog cart?” That line is based on total fact. Mary told me that she was playing the Wardrobe in Beauty and the Beast and had taken off a few months because of a bad back. She visited the show, exited the stage door...and, bizarrely, was immediately hit by a hot dog cart! Turns out, there was a guy racing down the sidewalk and the front area of the hot dog cart was the high part which blocked his view. Besides being hit by the cart, it wound up being a hit and run! The guy never stopped! The good news: Mary’s fine and her accident is immortalized in the official script of [title of show]. When she went to see the show Off-Broadway, the production treated the audience to free hot dogs. And they were one of the treats at the opening night party on Broadway, as well. So her accident has led to feeding many hungry audiences…and the opening lines of many regional productions.

Speaking of [title of show]., here’s the hilarious Susan Blackwell talking about her real and completely faked injuries of yore. She is fun-ny!

And finally, I decided to start deconstructing again. I haven’t done it in a while and I wanted to come back with a bang. So, now I’m filming them at fancy Playbill studios and my first one if “Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen. Turns out, adding fabulous lighting makes them look great. My sister called me after she watched my new one and told me I have to continue doing them at the studio. She stated that the ones I do from home make me look haggard and horrific. She informed me the lighting is very real in my apartment and “the camera doesn’t lie.” She then said that I look amazing on the Playbill video because “that camera does lie.” Hilarious! And honest. Read how I started by deconstructions here, watch the video below, and then peace out:


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