ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Birthday Bonanza and Mischief with Megan Mullally

By Seth Rudetsky
04 Mar 2014

Sarah Litzsinger
Sarah Litzsinger

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

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My birthday officially began last Friday. Basically, when it comes to the length of my birthday celebration, people have been known to say "Not since Ramadan." I really do extend it for a long time. At this moment, there are wrapped presents from my party that I haven't opened. I basically hate the idea of anything being over ("You have difficulty letting go" according to my therapist), so I force things to keep going well after they're completely finished (see several unhealthy college relationships).

Anyhoo, on the day of my actual birthday (Feb. 28), I rehearsed Disaster! all afternoon because Sarah E. Litzsinger is joining the cast! I became obsessed with her when I saw her in Amour and made an immediate vow to work with her. When the role of Jackie opened up, I tracked down her email and contacted her. PS I saw Amour in 2002. That's a long time to sustain a vow to work with someone. Basically, it took the length of two birthday celebrations.



Anyhoo, we rehearsed that afternoon, I went out to dinner and then did the show. It was really thrilling to spend my birthday doing a show I co-wrote. Then, at the end of the show, we did our curtain call as usual which is choreographed to "Hot Stuff." Right on the last few beats, we're supposed to bow as group, wait four counts and then the exit music begins. Well, after four counts, I didn't hear "Hooked on a Feeling" which is what plays as the curtain closes. I immediately went into a full depression that the timing was off, shot the band a scathing look, and made a mental note to send a passive-aggresive email asking why the cue was late. Soon the music started to play but it wasn't "Hooked on a Feeling." What was happening? I then heard the entire cast singing "Happy Birthday" to me onstage! Ah! I prayed the audience hadn't just seen my scathing look to the band and rearranged my face from glaring to smiling.

It was so great! The next night I had a birthday party at my apartment, which was super fun. My sister had come in on from Virginia on Friday with her husband and Rachel Sarah, one of my nieces. Eliana, my other niece, couldn't make it because she had school. I was so disappointed... and shocked. No one from the Rudetsky family has ever put school above anything. There was always a very valid reason to miss it constantly. When we were growing up, if I had any kind of cold, my mother insisted I stay home from school... for days. If there was any snow, we also had to stay home because "no one is going to show up."

Note bene: There was only one time my mother took school seriously and thankfully it didn't involve me. My sister Nancy had read in Seventeen magazine that putting mayonnaise in your hair makes it supple and shiny. Maybe it does, but she discovered it's also impossible to get out. Nancy rinsed and rinsed, but suffice it to say if she added some hard-boiled eggs and celery, she could have catered her own Bat Mitzvah. Nancy told my mother that she was mortified to let anyone see her with a mayonnaise head, but, out of the blue, my mother insisted that school was way too important to miss. It is? I think this was during the time my Mom was trying EST and she changed personalities for a brief period of time. Regardless, Nancy is still devastated when she recounts being forced to go to school with a pint of Miracle Whip layered throughout her Dorothy Hamill wedge.

Anyhoo, Eliana is 16 and obsessed with school (and has amazing grades) so there was no way she could miss Friday's classes. Suddenly, around 10:30 PM Saturday, in the middle of the party, Nancy announced that she had my present outside my apartment door. I had a fleeting thought that she got me a puppy, but that made no sense. Nancy opened the door with a flourish and there was Eliana! She came up herself on Amtrak, and I was so happy! It was the first time she had ever traveled by herself on a train. Brava! Of course, I begged her to stay through Tuesday, but she claimed she had "school" and wanted "good grades." Two things never heard before in the same sentence by a Rudetsky.

Seth enjoys some birthday cake with Emily Skinner and Susan Blackwell


 Continued...