I want to remind “y’all” (James is from Texas and I’ve adopted some of his vernacular) to tune into Stars In The House for our all-day Election Day show November 3! We start at 9AM ET and go until 7PM ET. It’s a chance to relax, laugh, and feel a sense of community. Tune in at StarsInTheHouse.com. AND, we've teamed up with #SingingOnQueue, a movement to entertain voters who are waiting in those long lines at the polls! My editor, Ruthie Fierberg, started it (separate from her Playbill work) and, with the help of Eric Ulloa, we’re going to broadcast live from certain poll sites throughout the day—starting with Tony Award winner Alice Ripley! So if you’re voting on Election Day and standing in a long line stay in line and tune in to StarsintheHouse.com to keep busy. You never know if a Broadway star is going to sidle up and start belting.
Here are some fun stories about the people scheduled to appear:
Tony Award winner Chita Rivera: Chita once told me about the mysterious bruise she had on her forehead. She couldn’t figure out why? She hadn’t fallen down or bumped into a door. WTH? At the time, she was doing the Broadway musical Seventh Heaven and there was a number where she did a sassy dance that included her leaping straight up, arching her back and kicking the back of her head. Well, she finally realized the source of her bruise: She was so flexible that her heel was coming past the back of her head and hitting her forehead! Now, that’s full out!
Olivier Award winner Jenna Russell: This first part of this story has to include the Elaine Paige backstory. Before Elaine was cast as the lead in Evita in the late ‘70s, she was in the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar. She didn’t really have to worry about her voice in Superstar and was able to galavant around after performances, going out and drinking with her friends. But when she got Evita, she was super scared she’d lose her voice and after-show activities were off. There is so much singing in that show! Here is a deconstruction of just one of the songs…and it contains a two-octave range!
Elaine felt the need to protect her voice because Evita was so difficult to sing, so she stopped going out after the show. Well, many of her cohorts thought she was avoiding them because she had a lead role and therefore didn’t want to associate with them anymore. But it was really because she was trying to be responsible so she could consistently give a great performance. Now Part 2: Not so many years later, Jenna Russell was a young girl working with Elaine. She had been warned about Ms. Paige being a diva, but wound up being shocked at how she was actually a pleasure. But, Jenna was young so she didn’t know how to politically phrase what she was feeling. So, after rehearsal, she went up to Elaine to praise her, but what came out was this: “Ms. Paige! Everyone told me you’re a c**t, but you’re actually lovely to work with!” Thanks?
Patti Murin and her husband Colin Donnell will also be joining us during our Stars In The House Vote-a-thon. Patti played the title role (and the high-belting lead) in Lysistrata Jones. The show opened on Broadway in the winter when it’s really difficult to keep a show running and, sadly, it closed quickly. After they opened, the cast was told that the show could continue…if they sold out every show for the next two weeks. The cast was optimistic until they went onstage for that day’s show and the theater was half-full. Devastated. Incidentally, they found out that the show was in dire straits from the dreaded full company meeting. For those who've done a Broadway show, we know that when a cast is forced to assemble onstage for an "important meeting" with the producer, it's usually a horrible sign indicating imminent closing. Unfortunately, almost everyone in the cast was making their Broadway debut, so when the producer called the meeting after Christmas week, one of them thought, "Yay! We're being told the show's gonna run forever!" Another cast member, however, remembered that the first sign that perhaps it wasn't going to be a happy announcement was the fact that the theatre was freezing yet the producer was dripping sweat. Anyhoo… here is Patti and Colin singing together, pre-pandemic:
And, P.S., they’re both going to be starring together in The Seth Concert Series with me in December! Get thee to TheSethConcertSeries.com for tickets.
Speaking of the The Seth Concert Series, Jessie Mueller is not only going to be doing our Vote-a-thon on Tuesday, but she’ll also be appearing in my concert series this coming Sunday, November 8. Here’s a story about her dedication to her craft (even though that sounds cheesy): Jessie told me that at one point, they offered her a reading of Waitress and she turned it down! She was doing Beautiful at the same time and felt she couldn’t give her all to a reading during the day and still give a good performance at night. Jessie had the smarts to know that she couldn’t sacrifice her performance as Carole King just to try to secure a new job, so she had the maturity to say no and hope the role would come back to her. I would be so nervous that I would be replaced in the new show that I would say yes and do 12-hour days, be bad in the reading and my show at night (and hostile to James at home because I’d be exhausted). Well, Jessie’s maturity paid off. She got the role of Jenna on Broadway (and a Tony nomination!). Here she is singing the title song from Beautiful at our first Concert For America:
Get tickets for my upcoming concert Sunday night concert with Jessie at TheSethConcert Series.com. We’re also going to have Martin Short on our Stars In The House all-day Tuesday show. He was the first guest of the second season of Seth Rudetsky’s Back To School, my podcast all about high school. Marty graduated in the ’60s and I asked him if he loved The Graduate and boy, did he! It’s one of his favorite movies ever (mine, too). He told me a great story about the film: In the early 2000s, he was starring in the L.A. production of The Producers opposite Jason Alexander. He was out after the show with Mel Brooks and Mel’s wife, Anne Bancroft, who had starred in The Graduate.
Marty decided he was going to risk sounding like an obsessed fan and tell her about a moment he loved. There’s a scene where Mrs. Robinson is taking off her top and Dustin Hoffman awkwardly touches her breast. While Dustin’s doing it, she notices a stain on her blouse and starts rubbing it together to try to get it out. Marty told Anne that he thought it was a brilliant bit of real-life acting…the juxtaposition of being pre-occupied with a stain while preparing to have sex. Anne thanked him…but then told him the real story: They had been doing the scene a lot because director Mike Nichols was trying to tell Dustin the right way to be physical with Anne so she just assumed they were not going to use the take they were doing. That’s why, when she actually noticed a stain on her costume, she was trying to help out the wardrobe department by rubbing it together. It wasn’t acting…it was real! And, amazingly, it’s the one Mike Nichols chose to keep. Watch!
You can hear my whole Martin Short podcast here.
Ok, everyone. I really hope you stop by our show on Tuesday for some peace and togetherness. See you then! StarsInTheHouse.com.