We have answers! And by “we,” I mean actual experts (not me). Yes, James and I did two episode of Stars In The House dedicated to the latest COVID variant that had lots of answers about COVID protocols on Broadway (and in all theatres).
On Monday we had Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS’ chief medical correspondent and two experts with him: Michael Mina (a Harvard epidemiologist) and Kimberly Prather (an expert on aerosols, the way COVID is spread). They were joined by Audra McDonald, Christine Toy Johnson (from the tour of Come From Away), Ciara Renée (who plays Jenna in Waitress) and Miguel Cervantes (who plays the title role in Hamilton). We were supposed to stars from Jagged Little Pill, but they called me around 6 PM to tell me they were just told their show had closed. UGH! We had an appearance by Kathryn Gallagher, who created the role of Bella in Jagged Little Pill, just to say a quick hello and check in. It’s always so hard when a show closes, but usually a cast has at least a week’s notice to prepare for it. It’s much more jarring emotionally when the show is suddenly over. Weirdly, Kathryn had been speaking to her brother a few days ago, and he was telling her to be in the moment. She then did Jagged Little Pill and during it, she thought, “if this is the last time I ever get to do this…remember it.” So, in a weird way, she was able to feel what it was like to do her final performance.
P.S. These protocols also relate to family/friend get-togethers for the holidays. Basically, it’s important to do a rapid test right before you take off your mask. Dr. Mina suggests doing it in the driveway right before you enter the house. And Dr. Prather emphasizes the importance of ventilation and filters. Getting a good air purifier can help catch COVID before you inhale it. She recommends going to CleanAirCrew.org to check out some inexpensive but great air filters. And to monitor what the ventilation is like anywhere, she recommends getting an air quality monitor.
On Tuesday, we had our doctor (and the head of the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center) Dr. Jason Kindt. One of the main things he reiterated was that it’s safe to see a Broadway show. Just make you’re wearing a good KN95 or N95 mask that’s good-fitting. That means your glasses shouldn’t fog up! If air is getting out to fog up your glasses, that means air is getting in! AND, if you have plans to see a Broadway show, check out BwaytToday.com for the latest in what’s open and what’s temporarily closed.
Now, onto books! If you’re looking for some good reading over this holiday season, check out Sharon Gless’ new autobiography. First of all, I love the title: Apparently There Were Complaints. It’s such a hilarious way to sum up a life! Second of all, it’s such a great read. Sharon asked me to do an event with her at the Strand Bookstore, and it was fantastic. Here are some of my favorite things we discussed.
Sharon’s grandfather was a famous and very successful Hollywood lawyer. He told her that acting was a “filthy” business and, therefore, she never pursued it. She had lots of different jobs and eventually was working on the production side of films. No performing whatsoever. She lost her job when she was 26 years old and her grandfather invited her to visit her where he lived in Arizona. When Sharon arrived, her grandfather’s wife sat her down and told her, “You’re 26 years old and you have nothing to show for it!” Ouchie-wowee. She asked Sharon what she wanted to do with her life, and she told her not to censor herself—just to answer without thinking whether or not it was possible. Sharon told her that she wanted to act. Sharon felt she was too old, but her grandfather’s wife told her to go for it. Sharon then told her not to tell her grandfather, because she knew he wouldn’t approve. Well, the next day her grandfather called her in (turns out, his wife spilled the beans) and told Sharon that he would never stand in the way of what she wanted. And he then gave her the money she needed for acting class. Even though Sharon was scheduled to stay and visit with him for a month, he encouraged to get back to L.A. and start her new career. And through some amazing events, Sharon soon became a contract player at Universal. She was actually the last contract player ever!
There’s lots of great stuff about Cagney and Lacey as well. If you don’t know, there was a different Cagney for the first two TV movies, and when the show went to series, the co-creator Barney Rosenzweig wanted Sharon to star opposite Tyne Daly. Well, Tyne had created the role of Lacey and naturally wanted first billing. Sharon had already done some TV series and had top billing, and knew that it would be bad for her career if she didn’t continue with top billing. They were at a standstill. Cut to Barney coming up with the solution: The top billing would switch each week! One week during the opening credits Tyne would be billed first, and the next week it would be Sharon. And whoever was billed second in the opening credits would be billed first in the print listings. Genius!
Here’s the opening with Tyne listed first:
And here it is with Sharon first:
Back to her being a contract player (before Cagney and Lacey). There was a show called House Calls that starred Lynn Redgrave. After a few seasons, she asked for the same salary as her co-star Wayne Rogers and to be allowed to breast feed on the set. In response, she was fired. Horrific. Sharon, still under contract for Universal, had to replace her, and did the show for a year. In the book, she writes about her not enjoying working with Wayne Rogers. Well, at the end of the series, she writes that she had a party for the cast (not Wayne). She decided to invite Lynn Redgrave, whom she had never met! I told her I thought that was so cool of her, and she said that Lynne was even cooler…she said yes! Lynn then asked Sharon if she wanted to mess with the cast and stage a fight. Sharon loved the idea and said YES. So, a few hours into the party, Sharon saw a car pull into the driveway. She muttered out loud, "Who could that be?" and went outside. She and Lynn quietly introduced themselves and then started a loud, fake argument. Lynn yelled “You stole my job!” Sharon yelled “You lost it because you can’t act for sh*t!” Finally it ended with Lynn yelling, “F*ck you!” followed by Sharon standing at her door yelling, "F*** me? F*** you!!!!!" Sharon said she turned around and the cast was standing there with their mouths hanging open. Sharon "apologized" to everyone…and then, of course, invited Lynn inside. Brava!!
Get the book OR audio book read by Sharon herself here.
My January live concerts are booked! I have a concert Sundays at 8 PM ET and in January I have Jessica Vosk, Christy Altomare, Ciara Renée, and Ana Gasteyer. And I have an early bird special for $20 tix if you go to TheSethConcertSeries.com.
If you only know Ana Gasteyer from Saturday Night Live, you have to hear her amazing singing. Here’s a video where we discuss how her loud belting backfired in my apartment.
Watch, and then peace out!