Chicago Alum Jim Borstelmann Recalls His Audition for Ann Reinking and Rob Marshall

Seth Rudetsky   Chicago Alum Jim Borstelmann Recalls His Audition for Ann Reinking and Rob Marshall
 
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth also revisits Scandal with Kate Burton, Scott Foley, and more.
Ann Reinking
Ann Reinking Max Vadukul

We had more reunions on Stars in the House last week. The cast of Scandal came on and James and I were starstruck because we love that show so much. We started watching it during the pandemic and averaged 2-3 episodes a night! It’s so brilliantly written and acted.

If you don’t know, Shonda Rhimes is the creator, and speaking of writing, Katie Lowes (who played Quinn) told us that there was no estimating lines. They had to be word perfect. And there was no suggesting ideas for plots or character development or things their character would say. Shonda told them early that she is in charge of what they say and they are charge of how they say it. I love specific directives like that! It’s actually easier for me when there are clear boundaries.

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Scott Foley, Tom Verica, Kerry Washington, Jack Falahee, George Newbern, and Josh Malina at Dear Evan Hansen Bruce Glikas/GettyEntertainment

We were asking everyone how they got the job and Scott Foley told us that he had worked with Shonda on Grey’s Anatomy and she told him she had a role for him on her show if he wanted it. He read it, loved it, and said yes. She told him he had the part and he told his agents. A little while later, she told him that the network had a new president and they wanted him to come in and read. He read for them and felt good about it. A few weeks later, they asked him to meet with the pilot director. It went great. A while later, she called and told him that, turns out, they didn't want him. She was so apologetic but that was that. He wound up getting another TV show, filmed it… and it was canceled. After it was canceled, Shonda called Foley and told him she wanted him on Scandal. He responded “Um…we’ve been through this.” She told him that all the kerfuffle happened before the show aired and now it’s a hit and they can’t tell her what to do anymore! He joined the series in Season 2 and stayed until the very end.

I then asked Josh Molina how he got the gig and he said, “I auditioned and they did like me.” Hilarious! Speaking of his humor, James and I were hoping he’d do a reunion of one of his other TV shows and asked him if he’d be available sometime in March. He replied “Yes! I’m free from now… until my death.”

We also spoke to Jeff Perry who played the scheming Cyrus. Turns out, the cast never knew what was going to happen in an upcoming episode. They first found out at the table reads. However, because his wife did casting, she would get the scripts in advance. They had a deal where she wouldn’t tell him anything that was upcoming. Except once: she was reading a script in the other room and he heard her yelp. He reminded her about their agreement. She nodded but said “Ok, just one thing…naked.” Yes, she read that he and Dan Bucatinsky had an upcoming scene that would shoot in the next two weeks where they needed to prove they weren’t recording each other, so they both stripped. Jeff thought about being nude on TV and his bod, then he thought about one of his idols, James Gandolfini, who would do scenes in his underwear and was always brilliant. Jeff said he thought, “F- this. There will be no juicing.” Dan however, told us that when he heard had a nude scene he thought, “I have 11 days to lose 65 pounds.”

James and I asked the great Kate Burton about (spoiler alert!) the amazing scene where she kills her husband. She told us that she and her co-star Jack Coleman did what she called “play practice” the day before. They knew there would be a lot of fake blood, so if something didn’t film correctly, it would take a long time to clean up and do again. They wanted to get it right the first time. The two of them met in his kitchen (with his wife and daughter looking on, horrified) and blocked the murder so they knew exactly how they were going to play it. It’s such a great scene and Tom Verica directed it so creatively. Watch it here.

Jim Borstelmann
Jim Borstelmann Joseph Marzullo

We also had a Stars in the House dedicated to the late Ann Reinking. Bebe Neuwirth put it together and it was so beautiful. Ann was so many people’s idol! Jim Borstelmann talked about his audition for Chicago when it was being done at Long Beach Civic Light Opera in 1992, before the Encores! production at New York City Center. He flew to California and was so excited to audition for her. While he was warming up, a guy came up to him and told Jim that he loved his work in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. Jim barely took him in and said, “Thank you, but I can’t talk. Ann Reinking is going to be here—I have to prepare!” He completely blew him off and kept warming up. Finally, Ann arrived and Jim went in to audition. Not only was he freaking out seeing Reinking, but he was freaking out seeing his “fan.” Turns out, he wasn’t another dancer auditioning—he was behind the table and part of the creative team. Yes, Jim completely blew off the director of the musical... Rob Marshall [yes, that one who directed the movie adaptation in 2002]!

The good news, it all worked out! Jim got the gig in California. Chicago then ran at Encores! and then moved to Broadway… and Jim got to dance “Roxie” opposite his idol eight times a week. You can watch this episode, and any other one, at StarsInTheHouse.com.

Watch this “Roxie” video where you can see Jim to the right of Ann when the boys come in—so good! Enjoy the fabulousness, then peace out.

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