ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: How Did I Survive a British Natural Disaster and Still Make it Onstage on Time?

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18 Aug 2014

Jessie Mueller
Jessie Mueller
Photo by Joan Marcus

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


I'm back in the US of A! Of course, I'm already working on my next show and I'm super psyched I just added Jessie Mueller from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical to Not Since High School! That's the benefit I'm doing Aug. 24 where Broadway folk sing their "big song" from the high school role that put them on the map. All the money is going to Juli's middle school to help their after-school music program. As opposed to the school's regular music program? No. All they have is after-school music.

So frustrating! It's like all of us accepting airplanes charging us to sit in an exit row. Remember when it was free? Then airlines started charging to see if people would have fit and at first people were outraged but soon accepted it. It's the same with the arts. Public schools used to have theatre, music and art as part of the regular curriculum. It started being cut down to nothing and, after the initial protests, everyone soon accepted that schools no longer have giant choruses, bands, orchestras and musicals. #Depressing.

Anyhoo, I thought this benefit would be a great way to raise awareness about what we need to have back in schools, raise some much needed money and finally hear Julia Murney recreated "I'm Still Here" from her teenaged performance in Follies. Get tix here.

Here's what happened in London Towne: My show was planned for Aug. 10. Also planned that day: a hurricane. Yes, so-called Hurricane Bertha started underneath Florida and had the nerve to cross the Atlantic Ocean and come ashore in the UK! When I heard I'd be battling a hurricane for ticket sales, I was terrified I'd be playing to an empty house. Who the hell would want to leave their "flat" to see a comedy show and risk being washed away by flooding and/or being impaled by flying objects? Luckily, YeOldeWeather.com said it would be gone by the time my show began. However, it was still going to pass over London that afternoon. Cut to: my tech rehearsal. James and I were sitting outside in Leicester Square because, despite my fears of a deluge, the weather was actually fine. Perhaps a tiny bit cloudy.

In Kensington Gardens

My tech was scheduled for 2:30 PM and at 2:28 James decided to film us walking over to the theatre... around 100 yards. As he's filming, you can hear me chatting about being in London and how the hurricane was predicted, but so far all it's done is given us winds up to 10 MPH. Suddenly, I heard vague screaming near me and within two seconds everyone was shrieking and fleeing because Leicester Square during into a wind tunnel surrounded by a monsoon. AH! Of course, James, for comedy reasons, kept filming as everyone was running around us and you can hear me screaming, "I'm sorry Hurricane Bertha! I believe! I believe!" The Guardian newspaper posted a photo of Millenium bridge at 2:15 and then minutes later to show how crazily quickly everything changed. Look!

Anyhoo, we made it to my tech, and the show went fantastically! Of course, I hate to brag but I shall do so under duress; I got numerous five-star reviews and they asked me to come back in February! Frances Ruffelle (the original Eponine from Les Misérables) came to see it and I used one of her clips in the show! I was demonstrating the delicious use of straight tone to vibrato and played "One Day More" where sings "...but he never saw me there!" and holds it straight-tone for a while as the camera comes closer and then she finally gives it full sassy vibrato. Watch


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