ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Apple Picking With Audra, and Making 'Em Laugh With Andrea Martin at 54 Below

By Seth Rudetsky
15 Oct 2012

Nathan Lane, Andrea Martin and Dee Hoty
courtesy Studio 54
So much of Andrea's show has amazing videos: slides of the original Toronto Cast of Godspell (Victor Garber, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Gilda Radner and Paul Shaffer), her first headshots, videos of her first commercial, her amazing appearance on Johnny Carson, etc. Well, in the middle of the first show, her whole computer crashed! Nothing! Of course, there was an hour left to the show and we couldn't leave the stage. Andrea just kept going and simply described things ("Here's the part where I show a picture of me in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" as a 45-year-old Greek woman… then I show a picture of me at my senior prom looking like a 45-year-old Greek woman"). It was like a workshop performance of the show. But, because it was so spontaneous, the audience loved it! Then, of course, we were terrified that the show works best in that version. Thankfully, our tech director from 54 Below fixed everything for the next two shows and the response was even more amazing! The last show had Victor Garber, Deb Monk, Nathan Lane, Shaiman and Wittman, Brooks Ashmanskas and Christopher Fitzgerald in the audience. Essentially, if 54 Below had blown up, Broadway would only be able to do straight plays for the next two years.

I had the cast from the current Forbidden Broadway (Natalie Charlé Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Jenny Lee Stern and Marcus Stevens) at Seth's Broadway Chatterbox (every Thursday at 5 PM at Don't Tell Mama) and they were so funny. They sang two medleys from the show featuring Elena Roger ("Just an utter lack of star quality"), Matthew Broderick ("Nice song if I could sing it…") and more. Before any singing, however, I confronted Natalie on her middle name "Charlé." Literally with an accent aigu over the e. Turns out, her mom named her after her grandfather (pronounced like "Charles" without the S) and Natalie always hated it. But when she was doing a beauty pageant as a 'tween, the announcer read her name wrong and called her "Charl-ay." Voila! Thus her middle name became a tip o' the hat for people who change "Target" to "Tar-jay." The other woman in the show, Jenny Lee Stern, is super-funny. When she told me that she and her husband (Broadway's Jeremy Kushnier) have two kids, I asked her, "How do you stay so thin?" She immediately answered, "Drinking and anorexia." She then followed that with "Hey, if it ain't broke…it's a tried and true combination." Brava!

Marcus Stevens, Seth and Jenny Lee Stern
photo by Robb Johnston

On my radio show "Seth Speaks" I had Jeffrey Roberson (aka Varla Jean Merman) who's starring in Carlo Menotti's The Medium which is opening at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater near Lincoln Center. Jeff told me, "My character is a medium who has a daughter and is also a conniving, drunken scam artist." He sighed. "It's a hard role for me to play…'cause I don't have children." Get tix to The Medium

I also had Joey Mazzarino, the writer on "Sesame Street" who's spearheading all the new Elmo, the Musical on PBS. He's married to Kerry Butler. As a joke, I called him "Mr. Butler." He laughed and recalled being in Toronto when Kerry was opening as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Joey saw all the Disney top brass at the after-party and he felt very cool and like an insider. As a photo was about to be taken of everyone, the photographer walked over to Joey and asked, "Can you step out of the photo, please, Mr. Butler?" Joey was obsessed with the double bust: not only "step out of the photo," but "Mr. Butler."

This week I plan on seeing Sherie Rene Scott at 54 Below, Betty Buckley at Feinstein's, Closer Than Ever (again because it's now starring my two friends: Marya Grandy and Anika Larsen) and the opening of The Other Josh Cohen. And next week I'll be in Pittsburgh for five shows at the City Theatre. On Friday, Nov. 9, I'm doing my show in Orange County! Get all ticket info at SethTV.com and peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)