Seth on Leslie Odom Jr’s Hamilton Vocal Style, Les Misérables Lyrics, More

Seth Rudetsky   Seth on Leslie Odom Jr’s Hamilton Vocal Style, Les Misérables Lyrics, More
 
This week, Seth remembers stories from Victor/Victoria and prepares for a Mean Girls duet.
in <i>Hamilton</i>
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr. in Hamilton Disney+

My new show opened! I had my official opening of Seth’s Broadway Breakdown October 15 and am thrilled to say I already got extended, meaning I’m now running until the end of November. The only scary part for me is once a show opens, I always feel I can relax about knowing my lines because I’m doing it so often. Well, my show is only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. So, I haven’t run the show since last Sunday and now I’m in a full panic that I don’t know any of my lines anymore.

It’s like my years when I was subbing the piano books on Broadway. On a typical week, I could play Phantom on Tuesday, Les Misérables on Wednesday, How to Succeed... on Thursday, and then not have any gigs for a week. Then back to Phantom on the following Friday. But that would be 10 days between playing that particular show. So, I’d always get there 90 minutes early and run the whole piano part. And if I didn’t… hoo boy! I remember when I was playing Victor/Victoria and Anne Runolfsson was on for Julie Andrews. Anne sang the songs in a different key and, one time, after I played the show with Anne, I didn’t play it again for a few weeks or so when Julie was back on. I showed up and thought, “This has been open for a long time. I know this. I don’t have to practice.

VictorVictoria01.jpg
Tony Roberts and Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria Carol Rosegg

Well, playing the songs in the original keys was fine for me… until the Act 2 song “Living in the Shadows.” It began with a huge piano solo and I was so thrown playing it in Julie’s key after I had last played it Anne’s key. I clinked and clunked throughout the solo, and was doubly mortified realizing that the entire time I was playing Julie’s blocking was to simply stand center stage and look thoughtful. She was there for my entire pianistic disaster. After the show, Joe Thalken (whom I was subbing for and was conducting that night) visited Julie in her dressing room. I nervously asked him if Julie noticed my clambake during “Living In The Shadows” and the answer from him was yes she did. Her reaction to my clinks and clunks was “I thought I was living in the shadows.” Huh? I know it was a bust on my horrific piano playing… but I didn’t really understand it. Then I thought, maybe it was a British thing? Perhaps in the U.K., when someone messes up on the piano, the singer thinks they’re the title of the song? Like if I messed up during The Sound Of Music, she would have said, “I thought I was a lonely goatherd.” Can I get a yea or nay from a West End star?

By the by, if you never Anne Runoflsson’s different key in Victor/Victoria, you have to watch this video where she belts the high F at the end of “Le Jazz Hot”… and then does the same ending with a three octave slide…ending on an F above high C. For real!

I just remembered one more Victor/Victoria story, too. Even though people thought Julie Andrews lip-synched the end of “Le Jazz Hot,” she did not. She sang it live every performance. However, in the scene directly after, a partygoer would confront “Victor” and ask “him” to sing the signature high note. Victor would hit the high note again and everyone at the party would hold their ears and glass would shatter. Well, that note actually was on tape. I don’t like lips ynching, but I didn’t mind that because it was during a scene (not a song) and it was right after the number, so Julie needed a reprieve from relentless singing (and dancing). Hilariously, though, one night the pre-recorded note didn’t work. So, the partygoer asked to hear the amazing high note, Julie opened her mouth…and nothing came out. Uh-oh. She knew she needed to do something so she sang a note but she was completely not prepared so it was decidedly not a high note. Yet the rest of the scene remained the same. The audience was like “A middle C can do that?”

READ: How Julie Andrews Handled Her Onstage Mishap in Victor/Victoria

Patti LuPone and Anthony Heald
Patti LuPone and Anthony Heald

Anyhoo, I’ve been posting mini-Broadway breakdowns since my show began and here are some of my favorites. First, I breakdown the fact that Leslie Odom Jr. drop his Rs in Hamilton the same way I did when I was 12 on Long Island. Then, the lyrics of Les Misérables, also known as qu’est-ce que c’est une centime!?And why does Patti LuPone add two amazing high notes during Anything Goes.

Come see Seth’s Broadway Breakdown Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 4 PM. And speaking of Sundays, I follow my 4 o’clock show at Asylum NYC with a live concert from our new Upper West Side apartment. Last week, I had Jessie Mueller and there were so many amazing moments. First of all, James joined her for “You Matter To Me” and he was so nervous he wouldn’t know the harmony until Jessie told him she didn’t really remember the harmony. The fact that she had sung it 8 times a week and didn’t remember it completely relaxed him and they sounded so great together.

Speaking of doing something 8 times a week and not remembering: the amazing Priscilla Lopez starred in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine and won a Tony award for her performance. She had an incredible Act 1 song called “The Best in the World” about an aspiring actress whose father is overly enthusiastic. Every chorus begins with a version of “Papa said…you’re the best! You’re the best in the world…”. There are four choruses with a version of that. Well, she took one week off and when she came back, she told me she got to the chorus and sang “Papa said…” and then silence. Finally, someone backstage or in the pit loudly whispered, “you’re the best” and she went on. So, back to the beginning of my column…it’s hard to remember lines, etc. when you’re doing a show 8 times a week. If you’ve never heard the song, watch my deconstruction.

My other favorite moment from my Jessie Mueller concert was when our doggie Bagel wandered downstairs during the concert. He was wandering around while she was singing and decided to pipe up only at the very end…in a perfectly timed bark. It was exactly on the button. His timing was so completely in the pocket.

Coming up this Sunday I have Erika Henningsen who starred in Mean Girls on Broadway. I just rehearsed with Erika and she shocked me by adding an extra high note to the end of “Meadowlark.” And the amazing Mean Girls news is that Cady and Aaron Samuels will be together again: Erika (who played Cady) and Kyle Selig (who was Aaron) are now engaged—and Kyle’s joining her for the concert. #YassDuets! Come join us live on Sunday at 8 PM ET by getting tix at TheSethConcertSeries.com and then peace outs.

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