ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Blast From the Past With Volleygirls and Surviving Broken Arms With Susan Blackwell

By Seth Rudetsky
29 Jul 2013

Susan Blackwell in Volleygirls.
Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

On Thursday, I had the hilarious Susan Blackwell on Seth's Broadway Chatterbox with the entire cast from the NYMF production of Volleygirls. They not only performed three songs from the show but they consisted of the largest amount of people I've ever had at a Chatterbox. I asked everyone about high school roles and Jennifer Johnson (who has a great voice!) told us she was cast as Frenchy in her high school production of Grease. The operative word is "cast" because after the cast list went up, another girl complained and was given the role of Frenchy. That's right, Jennifer gave up her role and took another one. However, there were no other girl parts available; the only role left was Johnny Casino, who has one scene, and sings the beginning section of "Born To Hand Jive." Well, the gender problem was solved with a quick name change. Yes, Johnny Casino became Janey Casino and instead of being in the entire show, Jennifer had one scene in Act Two. Problem solved and low self-esteem solidified. Speaking of gender-bending casting, when I was in high school, we didn't have enough male leading men auditioning for The Fantasticks, so my talented friend Lisa Disraeli was cast as El Gallo and did the show as...La Galla. Si, senor(ita).

One of the other highlights during the Chatterbox was the answer to my question about horrific onstage performances. PJ Adzima, who played the male romantic lead (the show closed July 27), is a cherub-faced redhead still in college, but when he was in high school he did the stage version of Holes, which is a famous young adult book. In one scene, he had to change from pajamas into another costume and that's where the horror took place. Let's just say that he wasn't wearing a dance belt and when he was changing, the audience got a glimpse of something they normally only see onstage during productions of Hair.

 Continued...