What Other Role Would Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez Play in Merrily We Roll Along? | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky What Other Role Would Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez Play in Merrily We Roll Along?

Writing from the Playbill Cruise to Tahiti, Seth Rudetsky also shares an audition horror story from Norbert Leo Butz.

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez in Merrily We Roll Along Matthew Murphy

Hello from beautiful Tahiti! I’m on the Playbill cruise and, holy cow, everywhere you look is crazy gorgeous. I’m looking out on a serene bay with mountains in the distance, palm trees nearby, and the soft sounds of birds around me. The food is delish and, on an unrelated note, I had to go shopping today for shorts that actually fit. I’m not joking. Basically, I am a walking refrigerator magnet: My diet starts tomorrow. And by tomorrow, I mean after April 8th when I return to New York.

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Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley Seth Rudetsky

Any to the hoo, before I left, I did a really fun interview for SiriusXM with six of the stars from Merrily We Roll Along: Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez, Daniel Radcliffe, Reg Rogers, Krystal Joy Brown, and Katie Rose Clarke. The three leads all had interesting stories about a connection from the past that predicted where they are now. Jonathan Groff talked about his first Broadway show, which was called In My Life. He understudied the lead (Christopher Hanke) and was the dance captain. It opened to dismal reviews and didn’t last long, but where was the opening night party? At the Hudson Theatre, where he is currently starring in Merrily! #Foreshadowing

Daniel Radcliffe talked about the time he started to take singing lessons. What was the song his teacher randomly chose for him, years before he did Merrily We Roll Along? “Good Thing Going!” The very song he now sings eight times a week.

And finally, Lindsay Mendez told us that she’s been friends with Katie Rose Clarke for years, but they had only seen one movie together. What was it? The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, the documentary about Merrily We Roll Along!

Seth Rudetsky, Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez Seth Rudetsky

And it appears that Merrily has always had a psychic pull. Liz Callaway told me, during one of my Broadway cruises, that the first Broadway show she ever saw was Company. She was just a kid, but she loved it and dreamed of doing something exactly like that someday. To refresh your memory, Company has a score by Stephen Sondheim, a book by George Furth, direction by Hal Prince, and played at the Alvin Theatre. Well, a little more than 10 years later, Liz was cast in her first Broadway show, Merrily We Roll Along, with, you guessed it, a score by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, direction by Hal Prince, and housed at the Alvin Theatre!

At one point during the interview I did with the current cast, I asked Jonathan, Lindsay, and Daniel what role they would play in the show if they weren’t playing their own. Jonathan went first and said, “Well, I am a gay man so I would love to play Lindsay’s role.” Lindsay then chose Daniel’s role. I asked Daniel which role he’d like to play, and he said he’d also love to play Lindsay’s, to which Jonathan asked, “Did you just come out?” Brava on the comedy!

Now, speaking of those three roles, the song they all do together that I am most obsessed with is “Opening Doors.” Here is my deconstruction of the original cast. I love it so much!

Back to the current cast! I then asked them to sing my fave song, “Opening Doors,” but to switch roles. Since Jonathan had asked for Lindsay’s role first, he was Mary, Lindsay was Charley, and Daniel was Frank. The experiment lasted one phrase before Jonathan got lost. Watch!

Seth Rudetsky, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jonathan Groff Seth Rudetsky

Back to Tahiti! 

Last night on the cruise, I was having dinner with a bunch of peeps, including Norbert Leo Butz, and we were talking about horrific auditions. Norbert told us one of my favorite stories. He had just moved to NYC and was cast as the cover for Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp in Rent. He had a theatre degree, but not a musical theatre degree, and auditioning was still new to him. His agents told him he had an audition for Side Show, and that he needed to prepare a classic musical theatre song, a pop/rock musical theatre song, and a pop song. They also told him, just in case, to bring his book.

P.S. If you don’t know, actors usually have a whole book with their sheet music that they can haul out if the people behind the desk at the audition want to hear lots of options.

The first mistake Norbert made was he didn’t run music with a pianist first. He just got sheet music and assumed it would be fine. He decided to sing “Old Devil Moon” from Finian’s Rainbow. You might assume he had sung this before. No. His brother had done the show, and Norbert sort of remembered liking the song. When he started to sing it at the audition, he clanked! He stopped after a while and they asked him for a pop/Broadway song. He was doing Rent, so he knew he’d be able to nail “One Song Glory.” He offered them that option and, in unison, they said No!” It was 1997 and everyone was singing that song. They did not want to hear it. Then they asked for his pop song. Norbert had bought sheet music to a Beatles song that he knew but was so panicked and covered in flops sweat by this point that he forgot the lyrics and melody and stopped.

Finally, they asked what else he had in his book. It was at that moment that he realized what his agent had meant. You see, when Norbert was told to bring his book, he assumed his agent was warning him that the audition might go long, and Norbert should have a literal book with him to read. Therefore Norbert had brought Tom Wolfe’s A Man In Full. So, with nothing left to sing, Norbert fled the audition, and decidedly was not called back.

Years later, he was touring the country as the Emcee in Cabaret. One night after the show, the cast was out at a bar, telling showbiz war stories. Norbert talked about that horrific audition and everyone there was like, “Oh, c’mon, Norbert! You’re so great. It couldn’t have been that bad.” Then, someone in the cast revealed that she had worked on Side Show and was in the room during Norbert’s audition. She told everyone with the certainty and PTSD of someone who had witnessed an atrocity that, yes… it was indeed that bad.

Here I am deconstructing Norbert’s amazingness (and, speaking of Side Show, I also discuss Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley!)

It wouldn’t be a trip with Audra McDonald if she and I didn’t swap adult ADHD stories. Audra told me and my husband, producer James Wesley, about the time she was performing in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill in London and took a weekend trip to Spain with her husband, Will, and daughters Sally and Zoe. Will had everyone’s passports so when Audra had to leave them to go back to London, she grabbed her passport from the pile Will had, hailed a taxi, and went to the airport. When she arrived at the airport she saw that she indeed had a passport, however, it was Will’s! She had to travel back to their hotel, get her passport, take a taxi back to the airport and book a new flight.

Once she landed, it took so long to get to London that she almost missed her curtain…but she did indeed make it. The real comedy part is this: she took a cab to the airport, had the wrong passport, took a cab back to the hotel, got the correct passport, and hailed a taxi back to the airport. When she hailed the taxi at the hotel to take her back, who showed up but the same driver! He was like, “Wait, what? I know I picked you up from here two hours ago and took you to the airport already! And now I’m picking you up from the exact same spot and you’re still going to the airport? Is this a 6-Time-Tony-Award winning version of Groundhog’s Day?

Speaking of London airport horror, on our first European cruise, James and I went to London beforehand and then planned to fly to Italy to catch the cruise. We had a super early flight, and we were so proud that we woke up on time, caught a taxi, and made it to the airport with an hour to spare before our flight. What was weird was that we were looking for a terminal that said “North” on our ticket and couldn’t find it anywhere. It was then that we realized London has an airport other that Heathrow—Gatwick! Who the hell knew? Anytime I’ve seen a TV show about someone flying to London, they’re always yammering on about Heathrow. When we bought our plane tickets, we just assumed it would leave from Heathrow because no one ever mentions Gatwick. In musical theatre terms, Gatwick is “…and Peggy.”

Audra McDonald and Seth Rudetsky Seth Rudetsky

End of story, we had to rebook out flights and it all worked out (if you call losing all the money we spent on our initial plane tickets “working out").

And finally, speaking of flying, I have a concert with Norm Lewis in Los Angeles on May 2. Tickets are available here!

Then Rachel Bay Jones joins me in Vegas just a few days later on May 5. Grab your tickets here!

Seth Rudetsky and Rachel Bay Jones Seth Rudetsky

Rachel can make anything sound amazing and here’s my proof!

Come hang out with us and peace out! 

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