ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Success Stories from Megan Mullally and Audition Horror Stories from Norbert Leo Butz

By Seth Rudetsky
20 Jan 2014

Norbert Leo Butz

OMG! I just feel like I discovered buried treasure! As I was writing this I had my signature ADD attack and decided to browse YouTube. I was looking for the Disaster! video where Jane Krakowski is knocked out by a disco ball (found right here!), but while I was searching, I saw some footage from opening night that I had never seen. I started watching it to see who in the cast was interviewed and I suddenly saw Tina Fey! She had come to opening night, and I knew she liked it because my various spies in the audience told me she was laughing up a storm, and because when she took over Entertainment Weekly for a week with Amy Poehler, Disaster! was put on the must list. But I didn't speak to her very much about the show because I had to chat with so many people at the opening night party. So, I got very excited when I saw she was filmed giving her opinion about the show.

I watched it and it was so crazily amazing. It's like we gave her copy for a commercial and she just repeated what we scripted! Not only did she say the show stars "really, really funny, talented people" but she also told the viewing audience, "If you love fantastic music from the '70's, excellent singing, hilarious jokes... starring really really fun and talented people... then you need to see Disaster!" It's so thrilling for me to see a video of her saying that. One of the only TV shows James and I watched for years was "30 Rock" and the star is saying these amazing comments! Next, I want footage of Lucille Ball saying that Disaster is a hoot.

Well, I'm trying to be more responsible and I've already booked this week's "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox" as opposed to waiting until the day before, which has been my signature for the last 10+ years. I'm very excited because my guest is Steven Pasquale, who's in previews right now for Bridges of Madison County. You can come see "Chatterbox" Jan. 23 at 5 PM, get a bite right after and then cross the street to see Disaster! at 7 PM. All on 46th Street!

When I wrote about my "Chatterbox" with Norbert Leo Butz in my column last week, I forgot to mention a few things: I asked him about the upcoming recording of Big Fish and he said that he decided not to do it old-school style. Usually, Broadway shows run six days a week and on the day off, right around opening night, the cast comes in and records the entire show. Everyone is usually vocally tired and they record 'til all hours of the morning. There's a great video of how this was done if you watch the making of the Company cast album. And it ends with the notorious footage of Elaine Stritch not being able to give a good performance of "The Ladies Who Lunch." 

Norbert knew he'd be vocally fried if he did it all in one day, so he begged Andrew Lippa (the composer) to let him do it on various days, and Andrew agreed! Norbert first got that idea from Idina Menzel when they were making the Wicked CD. She really knew how to take care of her voice and hence she rarely missed a show. As a matter of fact, he revealed that he and Idina recorded "As Long As You're Mine" on different days! That's right, their love duet about being together happened when they weren't together. The same thing with the original cast of Little Shop Of Horrors. The love song, "Suddenly, Seymour," was also recorded on different days... but that's because the two leads were decidedly not getting along when the album was made. (It still sounds great, though!)