I'm in Provincetown yet again, but this time I'm spending seven days here! It's "Family Week" which means that there are special events planned for parents and kids and it's sponsored by Family Equality Council, which is an amazing lobbying group for gay parents (www.FamilyEquality.org).
I got back to NYC last Monday from P-town and hightailed it to the Skirball Center at NYU to tech the New York Civil Liberties Union benefit. The show went great! Moises Kaufman, who directed and wrote Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and [AUDIO-LEFT]3 Variations, started off the evening and spoke about growing up in South America where he was gay and Jewish in a country that was macho and Catholic. When he came out to his father as a boy, his father's solution was to place him in martial arts class. Although at first apprehensive, Moises said, he wound up enjoying it based on the outfit and the after-class group showering. I hosted and played piano for most of the acts, and one of my favorites was John Tartaglia, who performed with Rod, the gay puppet in Avenue Q. Since the NYCLU was part of getting marriage equality passed in New York state, a lot of the acts had to do with marriage. So, when Rod came out, he held out his puppet hand that had a ring on it and said, "Yeah, it's real, b*tches!" Rod talked about finally getting married to Ricky (the puppet he meets at the end of Avenue Q), and then launched into "Can't Help Lovin' That Man." Near the end, he went into "bring-it-home" tempo and he pulled out a full feather boa. Carly Rose Sonenclar, who starred in Wonderland, showed off her amazing voice with "I Am What I Am," and I cannot wait to see the video for two reasons. First, because Carly is only 12 but has an incredibly mature and beautifully musical voice. Secondly, because of the ending of the song. Gavin Creel was backstage and thought that Carly had modulated without telling me, and, because I was so brilliant, I kept changing keys, trying to figure out what key she was in. Well, yes…I was switching keys a lot, but it's not because I'm brilliant, it's because I'm an idiot. Carly and I decided that she'd add a modulation for the last verse of the song, and adult ADD-style, I didn't write in the new chords because I was certain I could do it on sight. Yes, I can transpose on sight, but unfortunately, I forgot in the actual moment if we were modulating up a half or a whole step. So I kept frantically switching keys while she kept singing! Thankfully, her voice sounded phenomenal and she got the most extended applause of anyone in the show. Unfortunately, she now has a "hilarious" story with video proof she can use on various talk shows when she gets famous. Hopefully, my last name will prove too difficult for her to pronounce.
|photo by Chris Cassidy|
Every weekend, I bring someone up to Provincetown for my Broadway at the Art House series. Last week, Adam Pascal not only sang up a storm, but had so many fun stories. We were talking about "One Song Glory" from Rent. If you've ever seen it, you know that the Roger character sings most of it from the bed and only stands up when he sings the long "Glo-o-o-o-ry." What ingenious blocking, you'd think. Roger is homebound, afraid to move emotionally and physically, and can only feel the impetus to actually get up when he sings what he truly wants…"glory." Cut. The real reason for the blocking is because Adam couldn't learn the lyrics for the song and they were written out and put on his bed! The only part he felt secure with was "Glo-o-o-o-ory." Immediately after he would sing that, he'd skedaddle back to his bed to look at the lyrics for the last verse. And that became the blocking used on Broadway and every national tour — and it was up to the actor to find the subtext. Adam's was: "What're my lyrics?" Speaking of lyrics, when we did the Actors Fund Chess concert (he was the American and Josh Groban was the Russian), we had the singers hold their lyrics. The London version that was filmed for PBS gives the illusion that everyone was off-book. Turns out, they had their lyrics streaming on teleprompter! Delicious! Or as they say in Britain about anything whatsover, "brilliant"!
Adam talked about his initial Rent audition, which came about because Idina Menzel (who lived around the block from him when they were growing up) told him that they were looking for an actor with a real rock voice. Since he was pursuing a rock career at that time, he went in. He was outraged that he was asked to come back a third time and refused to go (!). How dare they not decide after two auditions! P.S., that set the stage for the future of Rent auditions where I had friends go back ten times. And still not get it. Anyhoo, he went back in and Michael Greif, the director, had one concern: the fact that Adam sometimes kept his eyes closed when he sang. He asked Adam to sing his Mimi love song directly into the eyes of Daphne Rubin-Vega. Actually, no. He was asked to sing the love song directly into the eyes of the casting director, Bernie Telsey. Let's just say, Daphne and Bernie have never been up for the same roles. Adam realized they needed to know if he could act. And he did it! Cut to: Broadway, Tony nomination, film version, national tour, triumphant return to Broadway. And, 15 years later, he still looks the same. Not cool. My fave story of the evening was told only because I happened to ask a random question. I knew he had been a rocker, and I jokingly asked if he ever had some stupid rock name like "Axl" or "Flash." Instead of laughing and saying no, he paused and said, "Well…at this point, I think only my wife knows." Knows what?, I demanded. Turns out, while he was in the band, he decided he wanted to be more like Bono or Sting and he showed up one day at band rehearsal and told everyone that from now on, his name was no longer Adam, it was…Rain. *Silence*. He then decided to add a last name and became…"Rain Madison." His bandmates were mortified and would often be at a bar and ask, "You wanna beer, Adam?" There'd be an awkward pause, then…"I mean, Rain." He also revealed that there are some girls out there he dated who only know him as his fake name! I'm very thankful he went back to his birth name and we didn't have to hear, "And the 1996 nominees for Best Actor in a musical are Nathan Lane, Savion Glover, Lou Diamond Phillips...and Rain."
|photo by Robert Mannis|
This weekend I had Andrea McArdle who sounded fabulous as usual. Usually, at the end of each Broadway Series , we've gotten a standing ovation, but this time we got a standing ovation when Andrea first walked onstage! Mark Collins, who was running spotlight, told her that he's never seen anyone get a standing O for just walking out, and Andrea said, "It actually just means I'm old." Not true, but sassy comeback.
I showed the video of her singing "Tomorrow" on the Tony Awards and she asked us to notice how much she flips her head. She said it was because she was a natural brunette with long hair so the Annie people got her hair dyed red and gave her a sassy haircut at Vidal Sassoon every few weeks that cost a few hundred dollars. She described her hairstyle as a Dorothy Hamill/Toni Tennille modified wedge. While she was playing Annie, she wanted the audience to see how nice it layered, so she got used to constantly flipping it up and back. Take a gander. Unfortunately, Andrea said the haircut was so short that it sometimes made her look like "Willy Wonka" character Mike TV or "Eight is Enough" star Adam Rich. I identified because, in the early '80s, I had to deal with my sister constantly calling me "One Day at a Time"'s Glenn Scarpelli.
This week in Provincetown I'm doing my own show on Tuesday-Thursday and then I head to Greece on Friday for the next rFamily cruise. The fabulous Marilyn Maye with Billy Stritch at the piano will be the next Broadway at the Art House guest over the weekend. For tickets to our shows, go to www.PtownArtHouse.com.
And finally, the hilarious and high-belting Nancy Opel was my Playbill Video "Obsessed!" guest this week, telling of her mishap when she went on for Patti LuPone in Evita. It involves Mandy Patinkin, a large bunch of cables and her uterus. Watch it, and peace out!
(Seth Rudetsky has played piano in the pits of many Broadway shows including Ragtime, Grease and The Phantom of the Opera. He was the artistic producer/conductor for the first five Actors Fund concerts including Dreamgirls and Hair, which were both recorded. As a performer, he appeared on Broadway in The Ritz and on TV in "All My Children," "Law and Order C.I." and on MTV's "Made" and "Legally Blonde: The Search for the Next Elle Woods." He has written the books "The Q Guide to Broadway" and "Broadway Nights," which was recorded as an audio book on Audible.com. He is currently the afternoon Broadway host on Sirius/XM radio and tours the country doing his comedy show, "Deconstructing Broadway." He can be contacted at his website SethRudetsky.com, where he has posted many video deconstructions.)