Last week featured what James coined our “Vote-a-thon” edition of Stars In The House, which we did to relieve the stress of Election Day. We were on the air from 9AM to 7PM (with the fabulous Brenda Braxton hosting from 2-3PM so we could take a break). We had appearances from so many people! Here are some highlights:
Alice Ripley #SingingOnQueue
Alice Ripley joined us first from the street. She was part of Playbill’s Ruthie Fierberg’s project to keep people entertained while they were waiting on lines to vote. It was called #SingingOnQueue and Alice picked a great song for a long line: “American Pie” which, quite frankly, has enough verses to last an entire election cycle. She sounded great as she sang it for us…. and it was more impressive because it was so effing early! Not since she sang “I Dreamed A Dream” as Fantine during a morning talk show.
Jenna Russell Rushing On As an Understudy
Jenna Russell checked in from London and told one of my favorite understudy stories: When Les Miz first began in the ’80s, she was in the ensemble and understudied Eponine…but never went on, even though she stayed in the show for a few years. Three years (!) after she left the show, she got a call asking her if she was available that night. She was…and asked why. They told her that the Eponine was on vacation and so was her understudy. There was one understudy left….but she was having a tooth issue. They asked Jenna if she’d be willing to go on…just in case the understudy couldn’t do it at the last minute. Jenna asked who the understudy was and when they told her, Jenna relaxed because she knew that actress would never miss a show. She told them she could do it, if need be, and then proceeded to go about her day and not worry about it.
That night, she was having dinner with her mom and thought she should do a quick check-in with the theatre, just to fully confirm she didn’t have to go on. This was before cell phones, so she called from the restaurant payphone and shockingly they told her “You’re on!” Seriously! She had never gone on for the role and hadn’t even done the show in three years. Well, she hightailed it to the theatre…and, turns out, had the best time! She still knew the show by heart and she said it was thrilling to stand on the stage and sing those classic Eponine songs! At the end of the night, they thanked her for saving them and quietly handed her an envelope filled with cash. Not quite Union-approved, but a great ending to a crazy day!
Laying Down the Law
Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry stopped by. During their segment we had Karen Olivo waiting to go on. James and I are able to see people on our livestream when they’re “backstage” and we noticed Karen was LOVING everything they were saying. Well, we decided to bring Karen on early and she revealed that, yes, she was a HUGE fan of L.A. Law! I mentioned the classic episode of L.A. Law where Rosalind (played by Diana Muldaur) was chatting with her boyfriend and went to enter the elevator, which malfunctioned and suddenly she plunged to the bottom of the elevator shaft!
Michael and Jill remembered that everyone found out about at the same time as they were doing a read-through of the script. Everybody…including Diana! It was shocking to the cast and, I’m sure, not fun for Diana to find out her job was ending. It reminds me of my friend Tom Lenk from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He and his friend (who was also on the show) got the script for that week’s episode and decided to read their scenes together for fun. And that’s when his friend found out that he was being killed off…and Tom did the killing. #Awkward #FriendshipOver
Joel Grey came by and I busted him because he’s always under-praising his dancing. I found an amazing clip of him when he was 19 years old. Watch how fantastic he was here. Of course, after I showed it he claimed he didn’t know what he was doing and was just faking it. I can’t!
Josh Groban Gets Starstruck
Julia Murney wound up coming on the show with Josh Groban so we could reminisce about the Chess concert we did for The Actors Fund back in 2003. Josh was 22 years old and had a huge recording career already, but was in awe of Broadway because it was what he had always wanted to do. He remembers being so nervous coming to his first rehearsal with so many people he was a fan of (Adam Pascal, Norm Lewis, Sutton Foster, Jonathan Dokutchitz, Raúl Esparza) and then how welcoming everybody was. He said that the warm vibe that everyone set so early in his career is what continues to bring him back to theatre because it’s a “family like no other.”
Here’s some footage from our final day rehearsal: If you don’t know what it’s like for these one-night events, you get one (1) day in the theatre to put it all together with the lighting, orchestra, etc. This is fun to watch because you can see everyone is in their street clothes with their backstage tags around their necks…and you can see me conducting in my signature day-of outfit: a tank top.
What’s Up Next
There were so many other amazing moments and James and I are going to play a bunch of them in our recap episode this Friday night at 8PM. We have other exciting shows planned this week on Stars In The House. Tonight, guest host Brenda Braxton will spend the hour with Moulin Rouge’s Robyn Hurder…talking about her Tony-nominated performance and cooking and mixing cocktails! For a list of what ingredients to have so you can cook/drink with them, get thee to Facebook.com/StarsInTheHouse.
Tuesday night we have a reunion of the cast of that classic ’80s TV show Family Ties just in time to talk about Michael J. Fox’s new book!
Wednesday, we’re going to honor Veteran’s Day by having a reunion of the Broadway show Bandstand, featuring Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, and Beth Leavel. Here they are, tearing up the Tony Awards.
Thursday will be a reunion of a TV show I did many years ago; Legally Blonde: The Search for the Next Elle Woods. I will definitely be highlighting some of the hilarious things about that series by showing the recaps I did for MTV.
READ: The Oral History of Legally Blonde: The Musical – The Search for Elle Woods
Friday will be our “Best of Vote-a-thon” episode, and Saturday will be a reunion of the three men who played Pippin during the original Broadway run: John Rubinstein, Dean Pitchford, and Michael Rupert, along with composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz!
Here’s Michael Rupert from the 1970s commercial.
Watch these upcoming episodes and all the ones from the past at StarsInTheHouse.com.
Yesterday, I did my second online concert with Jessie Mueller and she again proved she can sing anything. She not only sang gorgeous soprano songs like “On The Steps of the Palace” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but she did belty songs like “Beautiful” and “She Used To Be Mine”….and character songs like “Adelaide’s Lament”! We’re going to re-air the whole concert again today at 3pm ET! Get thee to TheSethConcertSeries.com.
Here’s a little preview I did of the concert:
And this coming Sunday at 8PM to The Seth Concert Series is the incredible Lillias White! Now, you can also watch our Sunday dress rehearsals at 5PM ET. People are loving a glimpse of what it’s like getting the show together, like watching me and my Broadway stars go through various songs to see what we want to do that night. I will leave you with a deconstruction of one of my favorite Lillias’ performances. Enjoy and get ready for our concert!