Why Betsy Wolfe Had to Stop the Show at Waitress

Seth Rudetsky   Why Betsy Wolfe Had to Stop the Show at Waitress
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth shares stories he learned from Broadway’s Betsy Wolfe, Heathers writer Larry O’Keefe, plus who to expect at the next Concert for America.
Betsy Wolfe Marc J. Franklin

I’m traveling this month! First an update on the end of the month; Monday August 28 I’ll be in Atlanta doing the eighth Concert For America with Randy Rainbow, Jessie Mueller, Melissa Manchester, Ryann Redmond, Nora Schell, and more! Get tickets at ConcertsForAmerica.com. And, P.S., for those who think I just became obsessed with Randy Rainbow because of his recent amazing videos, just know that this video put him on the map for me.

The glaring is RELENTLESS!

OK, where am I writing this, you ask? From the deck of the Anchor Inn in Provincetown, as per usual. So beautiful. However, when I write next I’ll have been in London, England, Basel, Switzerland, and throughout Germany! That’s right, on Thursday we leave for the Playbill cruise on a riverboat down the Rhine. All onboard details will be shared next week, but this week, let me write about last week (P.S. That’s my low rent version of Sondheim’s "Now/Soon/Later").

On Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM radio show, I interviewed Betsy Wolfe, who is now starring in Waitress. Turns out, they use real dishware in that show and while she was making one of her character’s signature pies, the bowl she was holding fell… and completely smashed into a million pieces on the floor. She tried to improv some lines like “This has never happened before,” but despite her efforts to keep the scene going, they had to stop it to clean the terrifyingly dangerous glass shards. I’m glad they stopped the show as opposed to Melissa Errico’s experience: She was playing Cosette in the national tour of Les Misérables and when she entered during Valjean’s death scene she was carrying a tray of glassware…which she dropped, causing them to shatter. Well, instead of stopping the show, she and Valjean continued their touching song…AKA “You will live! Papa, you’re going to live….” However, that wasn’t the only thing going on onstage; while she and her father sang, crew members came out and got rid of the glass…with a Dustbuster. Oh, right…so they would blend in and not distract, they were dressed as French peasants. Because every French peasant in the 1800s had a dustbuster. The relentless sound of the vacuum was just what the song needed to make it work.

Speaking of Les Miz, I also had Darren Criss on Seth Speaks and he was talking about the third edition of Elsie Fest, his big New York cabaret festival. This year it’s in Central Park and he has some amazing guests lined up! Look at ElsieFest.com. Also, (here’s the Les Miz connection) he’s released an acoustic/folk version of “I Dreamed A Dream.” I didn’t know he played guitar so well! Listen!

Back to Waitress: If you’ve seen that show, you’ll know that pies are sold at intermission. And as soon as you walk into the theatre, you smell pie baking. Well, turns out, it is the smell of a pie baking, but this pie is basically inedible. The producers just wanted the smell of delicious pie to really permeate the air so it’s not an actual pie baking, it’s a combination of the ingredients that smell amazing: its basically cinnamon, spices, and sugar with no other ingredients. Actually, why is it inedible? It sounds great to me. Pass me a spoon.


As for Betsy, back when Sherie Rene Scott was working on her show Everyday Rapture, she was looking for two backup singers. But instead of feeling competitive or in competition with them, she told the director she wanted two performers who would be amazing enough to have their own one-person show. And she got ‘em! Betsy and Lindsay Mendez were cast as her backup ladies. Here they both are when they were on my SiriusXM talk show and sang up a storm! It’s the Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand “Get Happy” duet!

I also had composer-lyricist Larry O’Keefe on the radio and we were talking about our musicals being done around the country. I so wish I could see Disaster! in all of its various incarnations…especially the current production in Galveston. Why?

A. My husband is from Texas so it would be fun to visit his home state with him
B. One of the reasons I wanted to write Disaster! in the first place is I’m obsessed with natural disasters and one of the worst ones was the Galveston hurricane of 1900. I would love to see all the cool hurricane exhibits down there! And, speaking of disasters, when James and I were in Seattle getting ready to do Concert For America a month ago, I was laying in bed in our hotel room and reading. I was relaxed and had the nice feeling I have on a Playbill cruise when the boat is sailing along the ocean. Then I realized I wasn’t on the cruise. I panicked and looked up at James and he said, “It’s an earthquake!” AH! I had never been in one before. It really felt like the room was rolling. So crazy! Now, if I do Disaster! again, I’ll have a good “sense memory” as we say in the (pretentious) acting business.

Anyhoo, Disaster! is also being done in high schools and just last week it had its theatre camp debut at Stagedoor Manor, which is what the film Camp was based on and where it was filmed. James saw the production and said it was fantastic! Here’s a photo montage of the leading characters. I love seeing 14-year-olds playing people in their 50s…not since my infamous (if infamous means awful) portrayal of Harry in Company when I was 14.

Larry was saying that lots of high schools wanted to do his musical Heathers, but he was told that he had to cut all the cursing, drug/alcohol references, and sex. If you don’t know, the whole show is about high school kids murdering the popular girls at school. Well, the “good news” is there wasn’t any problem with leaving all the murders in the show. That’s right: cut the curse words, leave the murders. Wonderful values. Weirdly, as I was typing this part of my column, Larry texted me and I told him I was writing about him. He texted me the actual conversation. He wrote that after he was told to cut the drugs/alcohol/sex/cursing, he asked:

LARRY: But we can keep all four violent deaths?
POWERS-THAT-BE: It seems you can.
LARRY: Wow. Ain’t that America.

I was obsessed with his Off-Broadway musical Bat Boy (saw it four times) and I wrote and asked if there was any footage of the original two stars (Kerry Butler and Kaitlin Hopkins) singing “Three Bedroom House.” He wrote: "I can’t be sure if this is them, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be." Then he sent this video.

Click the link and come back.

HILARIOUS! I totally fell for the “my eyes aren’t what they used to be” But, P.S., I wound up watching it and not only is their lipsyncing amazing but it also reminded me how fantastic that score is. Larry said there’s a chance Bat Boy will return to New York. ASAP, please!

And finally, my newest deconstruction is on Playbill! It’s Gavin Creel in Hello, Dolly! Enjoy and peace out.


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