ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Patti LuPone Remembers Les Miz High Note; Heidi Blickenstaff Recalls Mermaid Low Note

By Seth Rudetsky
07 Jan 2013

David Bedella
Last Thursday, I had a great Chatterbox with David Bedella, who is an American who lives in London and a winner of the Olivier Award for originating the role of Satan in Jerry Springer: The Opera. And speaking of which, when he was at the Olivier Awards, the winners before him were being very blasé in their acceptance speeches. Everyone was acting like it wasn’t a big deal to win and/or not wanting to sound like a show off, which is very British. Well, when David won, he said he was very American and therefore made a heartfelt speech. After the awards, he was approached by Dame Judi Dench (!) who thanked him for changing the tone of the evening. She said that after his acceptance speech, everyone turned, and suddenly the subsequent winners started treating the evening with the proper respect and reverence. David calls the moment being thanked by Dame Judi as “his Oscar.” And I assume he calls his Olivier Award, his “Olivier Award.”

A few weeks ago, I had a Chatterbox with the cast of [title of show], who just released the CD of their newest musical Now. Here. This., a show that played last spring at the Vineyard and dramatized/musicalized various key experiences they had as children. I asked Hunter Bell for details about his segment where he’s in a teen modeling competition. Yes, a teen modeling competition. He told us that his parents had just gotten divorced, and he had moved to a new town in Georgia and was about to start a new school. When he saw the ad for a modeling competition, he was thrilled because he figured it would be his ticket out. Why? Because he knew that when he won, he wouldn’t have to go to his new school. Why? Because he’d have to be in Paris. He doesn’t know why he assumed his modeling would start in Georgia and immediately segue to Paris, but that is exactly what he thought. The night before the big day, Hunter still had lots of his clothes in boxes because his family hadn’t finished unpacking. He was having a breakdown because he had to find his amazing pair of Lee jeans to wear on the runway. On the day of the big event, his father took him to the mall where the competition was being held, and Hunter soon discovered that he was the only boy participating. Did that make him feel awkward? Hardly. He thought it meant less competition. Yes! Finally, they called his name, the music started, and he walked up and down the makeshift runway that was set up. Did he nail it? Yes! The winner was announced...and it wasn’t him. He was supremely disappointed, but when he looks back on the experience he’s actually moved because on the way home, instead of his dad asking him, “What were you thinking?,” his dad told him he did a good job. Very sweet. Of course, I feel bad that Hunter lost, but I’m even more devastated that there’s no video footage.

Speaking of photographic evidence, I was on SiriusXM recently talking about my first professional job ($50 a week!) where I played an orphan in Oliver at the Northstage Dinner Theater. Cut to, I got a Facebook message from Michael Battari and his partner Ronald Case, who told me that they did the costumes and sets way back when! And then he sent me some photos! That’s me on the top of the stairs (of the very cool rotating set) holding buckets of milk because I also played the milkmaid (changed to milkboy) in “Who Will Buy.” And if you look downstage left, the knife grinder is the man who later on played the Phantom for more than two years…Davis Gaines!

Seth (on the stairs) as the milkboy in Oliver!


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