ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A New Member Joins the Unbroken Circle Family and Flea Market Festivities
By Seth Rudetsky
A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.
Ups and downs. This week has had plenty. First, we found out that Eve Plumb had to leave Unbroken Circle by Sept. 22. Not only were we sad to see her go (she's hilarious as Aunt June and has been with the show since the second reading in 2010), but we also had the pressure of finding a replacement in a matter of days! I started going through my contacts, Facebook friends and scouring IBDB (the Internet Broadway Data Base) until I found a group of women whom I thought would be great as Aunt June.
While on Facebook, I noticed a little alert pop up that said, "Marianne Tatum posted a comment on Emily Skinner's wall." I don't know Marianne, but I saw her in Barnum, playing Jenny Lind, back when I was in high school. I remembered what a splash she made on Broadway back in the '80's and thought she'd be around the right age for Aunt June. I did a little research and read that she left the business for many years to raise her daughter. The next day I saw Marianne Tatum's name pop up on Facebook again and did some more research, only to find out that she's from Houston! Not only is that where James is from, but the play takes place in Galveston, TX. Thirty miles away!
I decided to send a blind Facebook message saying that we'd never met, but I wanted to know if she was interested in replacing Eve in Unbroken Circle. She wrote back later on and agreed to come to the audition. I had to finish my auditions for Disaster! but I saw James afterwards. He told me that as soon as Marianne read her first lines, everyone knew she'd be perfect in the role. She was told the good news that she got the role... and the horrifying news that she had one week to learn it! Her first performance is this Wednesday's matinee and I can't wait to see her! Get thee to UnbrokenCircleThePlay.com and come on by, y'all!
That was the first up and down of the week. Yesterday was the BC/EFA Flea Market, which was an up in many ways. We had a booth featuring SethTV.com, Unbroken Circle and Disaster!. It was really fun to be there all day and meet so many nice fans. Then there was this conversation:
So many people helped out at my booth and I'm super grateful to them. At one point Matt Farcher (Myths and Hymns) and Haven Burton (Legally Blonde and Shrek) came by. Haven brought her adorable baby and we all took a picture together. Every time I show it to people, they ask me if they're married. They're not, but they're soon to be heavily involved. Why, you ask? Because we just cast them as Chad and Marianne, the romantic leads of Disaster!!
At the end of the Broadway Flea Market, I went to the auction area where I auctioned off two tickets to Unbroken Circle, two tickets to Disaster!'s opening night (Nov. 4) and a chance to co-host with me on SiriusXM. Two people in the audience were going back and forth and finally one went up to $4,000 (wowza!) but the other one stopped. I asked the lower bidder (from the stage) why he halted and he said he was bidding for someone else and wasn't supposed to go above $3,500. Hmph. I glared and he said I could call the bidder if I wanted. Of course I said yes. He dialed the guy's number (who, incidentally was actually named "Guy") and I took the iPhone onstage with me. Guy answered and I, into my mic, had a conversation saying that I was Seth Rudetsky and he could win the auction if he went above cheapskate $3,500. Guy said yes and I gave the package to both bidders, so BCEFA got $8,000! Shaming someone in public works!
Sept. 22 was not just the flea market; it was also Juli's birthday! And not any old birthday, her 13th birthday! She's now officially a teenager. I remember how much "fun" I was as a teenager with my parents and I can't wait for the next few years. How do you spell karma? Anyhoo, the downside of Juli's birthday was that James and I couldn't spend much time focusing on it because the flea market was from 10 AM-6:15 PM for us and in the middle James and Juli had to do a matinee of Unbroken Circle. But Juli's taking a page out of my birthday celebrations and extending her birthday well past the expiration date. We're going out to dinner Monday with Grace James (daughter of Brian d'Arcy James and Jennifer Prescott) and later in the month she's having a birthday sleepover with Zoe Donavan (Audra McDonald's daughter). Not only does her birthday extend for weeks, it also apparently can only be celebrated with the children of Broadway stars.
On "Seth Speaks" this week I had a really fun mix of people. First Edward Hibbert came by and discussed "Frasier," on which he was just hired for one episode! The feedback for him was so fantastic, he continued with the show for the entire run. The crazy thing is, whenever Edward goes to L.A., he doesn't drive. It's not that he doesn't like to drive, he literally doesn't drive! I don't like to drive either, but I have a license. He does not. He said he wants to write a book called "How To Enjoy L.A. Without a Drivers License". He claims it will be four pages long.
Edward has performed all over the country and England and he told me about he time he was doing a big highfalutin' drama with famous British actors like Maggie Smith. The last part of the show was that signature type of scene where the whole cast comes onstage for the denoument, dressed in their most stunning finery. Edward noticed that one of the women looked extra large. Could she have gained an enormous amount of weight during intermission? Upon closer inspection he saw that was indeed wearing a stunning gown... and attached to that was the gown she wore in the first act! It had somehow gotten tangled in the dressing room and she entered the stage with both dressed combined. I guess the audience thought it was the ol', "I couldn't decided which dress to wear so I just decided to wear both of them" routine.
My next guest was Sara Chase who's currently starring in First Date. She sang up a storm on my radio show... what a great voice! I asked her about an onstage mishap and she told us she was doing Toxic Avenger Off-Broadway and when she unrolled a carpet onstage like she normally did as part of a scene, a mouse ran out! The nightmarish part was she couldn't react at all. Why? Because her character was blind. Yikes! That takes a lot of control! I asked where the mouse went and she said it ran into the audience, but nobody noticed. She then noted the irony that the only person to actually see the mouse was the person who was supposed to be blind.
Finally, I had Lee Wilkof on the show. He was the original Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and throughout the years I've seen him in many shows like Sweet Charity, Assassins, She Loves Me and Kiss Me, Kate. Now, however, instead of acting in a show, he's directing a new film! It's called "No Pay, Nudity" and it stars amazing people like Laurie Metcalf and Nathan Lane. He's raising the money to fund it through ye olde Kickstarter. Here's the link to a fun video with all the stars.
I asked him about any onstage debacles and he talked about doing She Loves Me and finding out that the New York Times was reviewing it that night. He went into a total panic during the opening number, which is when all the employees of the parfumerie arrive. There's a moment when the young character of Arpad is supposed to sing of how wonderful everyone who works at the store is and sings, "And we get the tilt of our hats right!" Lee was so nervous that he sang during Arpad's solo. But he was also so nervous that he didn't even remember the correct lyrics so instead of singing, "And we get the tilt of our hats right…" he sang, "And we get the clop of our clopper…" Lee reiterated to me: he not only sang full volume over someone else's solo, he sang bizarre, nonsensical lyrics. From then on, whenever someone made a mistake during She Loves Me, the cast would say that the cast member "clopped their clopper". Brava!
As part of Lee's Kickstarter campaign, there are rewards for donating certain amounts of money. For $1,000, Lee will sing "Suddenly Seymour" to you on the phone or Skype and will substitute the name "Seymour" for whomever you want! When he was on my radio show, he told us he hadn't sung that song in around 15-20 years, but would do it again with me! I literally got to sing the Audrey part with the original Seymor. It was a truly thrilling moment for me. You can watch it here.
OK, everyone! Enjoy the beginning of fall and come see the newest cast member of Unbroken Circle starting this Wednesday (Andrea Martin and I are coming Thursday night at 7 PM) and come see Varla Jean Merman and I do some hilarious stuff at 54 Below this coming Sunday and Monday. 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.)
The Star-Studded 27th Annual Broadway Flea Market
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