ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Disaster Takes the Stage and A Spot of Tea With Edward Hibbert

By Seth Rudetsky
22 Oct 2013

Seth Rudetsky and Paul Castree

On Friday, we had our fourth performance of Disaster! and already someone was out! John Treacy Egan had other gigs lined up when he was cast in Disaster! so we knew we'd have to cover him for certain performances. Since these are planned absences, we thought it would be smarter not to have the swing go on in case another cast member has to miss that same night. So, we hired someone that will go on just for John's part. I'm very excited that Paul Castree said yes! He played Scott in the last run of the show but had another gig when we were rehearsing the show so he couldn't do his role again. But he was able to learn the role of Tony in just a week and did an amazing job. I took a picture of us right after the show with our disaster make up still on.

Paul and I have done so many shows together, starting with Forever Plaid back in 1993. When I first met him, I noticed he was friends with the assistant stage manager, whom I didn't like. I decided I probably wouldn't like him either and made no effort to bond with him. Soon, he started making me laugh and we became good friends. I finally apologized for not being friendly to during the first two months of the show and waited for him to tell me how hurt he had been during my weeks of ignoring him. Turns out, he told me he actually never noticed. What the - ? There's nothing more embarrassing than thinking you're devastating someone by giving them the cold shoulder and then finding out they didn't know/care. What a waste of classic snubbing!

After Friday night's performance of Disaster!, I went to bed at 1 AM and woke up at 4:30 AM (!) to catch a 6:30 AM flight to Los Angeles. The Broad theatre in Santa Monica is now doing the Broadway @ series and the first performance was that afternoon at 5 PM with the great Patti LuPone. We took off on time but around two hours into the flight, they asked if there was a doctor on board. Soon, they announced that because of a sick passenger, the plane had to land in Chicago. We were told to stay on board because we'd be taking off again right away.

I texted Mark Cortale, the producer, and told him I'd probably be an hour late. It didn't make that big of a difference because it meant I'd land at 10:30 AM and the sound check wasn't until 2 PM. Well, soon they asked us to leave the plane but stay in the gate area. I felt weird complaining, because the whole reason we landed was because of a sick passenger. I didn't want to be Tracy in Hairspray when she's late and mutters "Stupid bus crash." I also didn't want to be like the annoying guy near me who kept telling anyone who'd listen how annoyed he was because he "paid for a non-stop flight". I told him that the reason it wasn't non-stop because someone needed medical attention, and he was outraged that the man flew in the first place.

After we waited for a while, they switched our gate. Then another hour passed and they switched our gate again. I began to get nervous and asked if there was another flight to L.A. I could be put on in case this flight didn't take off. The only one they had got me in at 3:40 PM, which would mean that I'd miss the sound check and get to the show with only 45 minutes until curtain. I booked a ticket just in case and soon more hours passed. They kept telling us they'd have more info but then they'd delay take-off again. I fled to the other boarding area and got on the flight that got in at 3:40 PM. We landed on time. I rushed to the theatre, and we did a 10-minute sound check.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson from Audra McDonald, who once checked the bag with her gown and music and then arrived in Fresno without it. So, that morning, even though I didn't not want to lug around the 30 or so songs we rotate, I made sure Patti's music was in my carry-on. However, I didn't fully learn from Audra because I checked the suitcase with my suit! I had to borrow Mark's suit jacket, shirt and tie. I wore my rickety-rackety pants that I was already wearing and my inappropriate Nike sneakers. Regardless, both shows were sold-out and Patti sang up a storm including belting out original keys of "Rainbow High", "Buenos Aires" and "With One Look"!

Speaking of belting, I saw the brilliant Betty Buckley in The Old Friends and, even though there was no belting, she was fantastic. She managed to get so many amazing moments into each line... and so much humor. Brava! OK, I have to meet with Jack, my co-writer, to make some Disaster! changes. Come see a preview 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.)