How Alix Korey’s Time in Hello, Dolly! Led to Equity Rules Protecting Personal Days

Seth Rudetsky   How Alix Korey’s Time in Hello, Dolly! Led to Equity Rules Protecting Personal Days
 
This week, Seth visits Fairycakes and gets ready for a concert with Tony nominee Kathryn Gallagher.
Alix Korey
Alix Korey Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Hello from many feet in the air! James and I are headed to California for a few days. When we land, James is staying in L.A. and visiting old friends, while my friend Jack Plotnick and I are headed down to Palm Desert to visit my Dad and his wife Gloria.

Back to my Palm Desert trip: Broadway beltress Alix Korey lives in “the desert,” as they call it, and I first became a fan of hers when I heard her brilliant performance of David Friedman’s “My Simple Xmas Wish.” Here’s my deconstruction.

I remember interviewing Alix about her run in the late 1970’s tour of Hello, Dolly!. She played Minnie Fay and Carol Channing was reprising her role as Dolly. Alix’s sister was getting married and Alix asked if she could take off a performance to go the wedding. All was approved until right before the wedding. She was solemnly called into Carol’s dressing room by Carol’s husband, Charles Lowe, who was also Carol’s manager. Charles pointed at Carol and asked Alix if she truly was going to let this great star go on with an understudy. It was a very dramatic guilt trip and Alix, who was a young actress, felt enormous pressure and felt she had no recourse. In the end, Alix missed her own sister’s wedding. The good news is that after that horrific experience, Alix got onto the Equity council and became one of the pioneers who got Equity to officially recognize personal days, so actors are now allowed to miss a show for a wedding, funeral, etc. Brava!

A Chorus Line.
A Chorus Line. Photo by Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

The other craziness that was happening in the ‘70s and early ‘80s was random firings. I have friends who did the A Chorus Line tour and they told me that Michael Bennett would come to the show in various cities and, when he arrived, everyone knew that meant trouble. Situations would happen where an understudy would be on, Michael would be impressed with that person’s performance and then have them take over the role. Yes, it was cool that an understudy would take over a role, but it also meant firing the person who actually had the role! My friend in the cast said that the day after Michael would be there, the cast would be standing in their signature A Chorus Line poses and they’d look up and down the line to see who remained from their regular cast. They likened it to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None because you never knew who was going to be missing the next day. Well, the good news is that all those random firings led to the new rules where you now have to be written up three times before you can be officially fired.

I remember being fired from one of my very first jobs I got after college; I was asked to play second keyboard at the Darien Dinner Theatre. I was still living with my mom in the house I grew up in and I would take the LIRR to Brooklyn where I’d be picked up by fellow musicians and drive to Darien, CT. Then, after the show, they’d drive me back to the Brooklyn LIRR stop and I’d go back to Long Island. When I told my Mom we had a show on New Year’s Eve, she forbid me from being in a car on New Year’s Eve because the roads are filled with “lunatics.” Yes, I was 21 and when my mother forbid something, I listened. I told the conductor of the show that I couldn’t do the show but he didn’t tell me to get a sub. (P.S. I didn’t even know what a sub was…I had just graduated school! It was all new to me. Instead, he told me that the boyfriend of the comedic lead would be at the show and he could sit at my keyboard. That way, it would like someone was playing and no one would notice my absence. I assumed that was a normal thing to do and said I’d see him after the New Year. Well, on the day I was going to return, I got a frantic phone call from him telling me that the woman who ran the theatre figured out that there was a non-keyboard player sitting in my chair and I was therefore fired. What the-? I didn’t come up with that Lucy/Ricardo-esque scheme. Anyhoo, the good news is that even though it was the first time I was fired it definitely wasn’t the last! Wait. Why is that good news?

Jack Plotnick, Seth Rudetsky, Ann Harada, James Wesley, and Mo Rocca
Jack Plotnick, Seth Rudetsky, Ann Harada, James Wesley, and Mo Rocca Courtesy of Seth Rudetsky

Speaking of good news, I went to see Fairy Cakes and had such a great time. It’s such a cast of comedy superstars! Here we are after the show with Mo Rocca and Ann Harada!

We saw that last weekend, but this weekend I have Kathryn Gallagher on The Seth Concert Series. Yes, you may have first heard of her because she was recently Tony nominated for her performance in Jagged Little Pill but I first met her when she was 7-years-old and I was doing a benefit with her Dad, Peter Gallagher (On The Twentieth Century, The O.C.). She’s known as a rocker now, but she was a major musical theatre kid. We’re going to be reprising some roles she did back in the day, like her signature Mama Rose, which took place when she was the appropriate age of 13. Also, her Baker’s Wife that she portrayed opposite Ben Platt’s Baker! And we’ll feature her Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray as well the other time she did Hairspray and played Corny Collins...re-named Cornelia Collins!

I do this live concert series every Sunday at 8 PM ET. It’s a little bit of a headache for me because me show Seth’s Broadway Breakdown has Sunday matinees at 4PM. So, I end at 5:30 PM, then do the “meet and greets” I have with the audience members that purchased them, and then rush home to do the sound check/dress rehearsal, which starts around 6:20 PM. Speaking of the sound check/dress rehearsals, if you buy tickets to my December lineup, you get free access to the sound checks where which are so fun because we often run songs we wind up not doing in the concert! My December stars are José Llana (who asked if we can do Christmas songs, even though it’s early December, and I said “yes!”); Jessica Vosk, fresh off her sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall; and Andrew Barth Feldman, who’s no longer playing Evan Hansen because he’s now at Harvard. (Tip o’ the hat to Elle Woods in Legally Blonde?)
Get tix to all my concert at TheSethConcertSeries.com.

By the way, I just got extended again! I’m now playing Seth’s Broadway Breakdown in December in addition to my previously announced Friday night 11 PM performance for Thanksgiving Weekend. You can see a Broadway show and then come see my show!
If you haven’t seen me deconstruct/break down music, here’s my Ben Platt one, since he went to high school with Kathryn. Watch, then peace out.

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