What Stephanie J. Block Lied About To Kickstart Her Career | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky What Stephanie J. Block Lied About To Kickstart Her Career

Plus, how Christy Altomare set her mind for success and what Seth thought of London's Back to the Future.

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Stephanie J. Block Joseph Marzullo

I am in transit, writing on Amtrak from Rhode Island to NYC. 

Last night, I made my debut at Theatre By The Sea deconstructing Broadway (aka doing my Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Show). When I was in college, I was always trying to get a gig as a music director at Theatre By The Sea. It only took them thirty years to respond! 

I had a great time, the crowd was amazing, and I was very happy my pal Gay Willis was there because she’s one of the stars of their upcoming Cinderella. She last worked at Theatre By The Sea years ago, and I mean years as in 37 years ago. This was her first time back after decades on Broadway and in tours. Here she is as Christine Daée. Yes to that high E!

I also had two shows with Christy Altomare in Provincetown. She talked about her first big job, starring as Wendla in the national tour of Spring Awakening, a fabulous gig to get right out of college. The show is about the perils of not teaching teenagers about their sexuality and it features lots of sexual experimentation throughout both acts. She performed all over the country and told me it was only in Houston that she got flack. She remembers a woman waited for her after the show and yelled, “Does your Grandmother know what you’re doing?” Christy’s reply was so hilarious to me because it was completely honest. She said, “Yes! My Grandma just saw the show and she loved it.” Silence.

After that, she went from show to show, Spring Awakening to Carrie to Mamma Mia! and then nothing. She had been auditioning all the time, but suddenly the auditions stopped. Christy said she ran out of money and could only afford to live in her apartment for another month. She decided to change her life. 

She thought, “What do successful people do?” Well, they successfully wake up early! Christy started waking up at 5 AM, then she thought, “Successful people go to the gym." She started going to the gym every day. Then, in order to keep herself feeling good, she kept an accomplishment journal. She’d write down every positive thing she did. She’d write, “I made the bed." Then, instead of being depressed that she wouldn’t have enough money to live in her apartment the next month, she’d think, “Wow! I get to live in this fabulous apartment all this month!” Furthermore, she only listened to positive music. I knew that must have put a kibosh on one of her favorite singers, Joni Mitchell. There’s a reason Joni’s most famous album is called Blue. #Downer

Well, Christy’s plan was working. She felt like a new person. She called her manager and asked for an audition. She was told that no one wanted to see her audition. Christy insisted, and her manager got her two auditions. One of them was for Anastasia, and the day after her audition, she got the title role. It took one month from her thinking like a "successful" person to getting a major Broadway show. Brava!

The other story I loved is when Christy talked about the fact that she always thought she could never do a solo show. She was fine doing scripted shows, but felt that doing an act all her own was beyond her. Well, during the lockdown, I called her and asked her to join my concert series. It was something she hadn’t ever done before, but she decided to try it, and she loved it. It gave her the confidence to do her own act in Bucks County where she lived as a kid. 

One of her childhood friends came to see her show. They had been really close in middle school and, at one point, he had written Christy an email revealing he had a crush on her. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but they chatted after her show. On thing led to another and they’re getting married in September. Their story began again because I asked her to do my concert series in 2021. There’s a reason they call me Yenta the Matchmaker! (They don’t.)

Of course, the whole audience laughed when she mentioned getting an email from years ago and that, obviously, it was on AOL. I did not laugh considering I had just sent an email on AOL. Yes, I still use it. #OldSkool

I stayed in Provincetown through Sunday because I had a show with Stephanie J. Block and Sebastian Arcelus. It was so much fun. Stephanie told some hilarious tales of “woe.” For instance, when she was still in high school her mom changed the birth year on her birth certificate to make her one year older. Why would a mother want to change her daughter's age? Well, so that her daughter would be old enough to be cast in Disney shows! 

Stephanie’s older sister had played a string of princesses, and Stephanie was so excited to finally join the ranks. Well, after a grueling day of auditions, she found out she was going to be Fifer. Oh, she was so excited. She wracked her brain trying to remember a Princess Fifer. Soon, then found out there was no princess title before Fifer. However, Fifer did have two siblings. Yep, Stephanie was cast as one of the three little pigs. Yay?

Okay, some time has passed since I began this column. I was in transit then and am again now. To recap, I went from Rhode Island to NYC, London to Southhampton, and now I’m on a cruise through the Norwegian Fjords!

I’m looking out my cabin balcony window at the sea. So pretty!

Before James and I got on the ship, we saw the new musical Back To The Future to see our pal Roger Bart. Holy cow. Roger gives one of the most hilarious performances I’ve ever seen. He turns every line into a brilliant comedy bit that is never needy for a laugh, but always gets one. He is a master comedian. If you’re in London, you have to go. I am really hoping the show comes to Broadway so all my American pals can see it!

Roger was one of the stars of Disaster! with me on Broadway. When we were in performances, the cast would raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDs by having audience members bid to sit onstage while one of the stars sang their signature song. Faith Prince sang “Adelaide’s Lament,” Adam Pascal sang “Light My Candle,” with guest star audience member Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Roger sang the song he sang in the film Hercules. Here he is and, so you know, his voice still sounds this clear. He hit a crazy high note in Act Two of Back To The Future and I flipped out! 

Watch this then peace out:

 
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