This week, Seth visits Las Vegas and shares how “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was almost cut from Fat.
Hello from beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona! I’m here to do a show with Jeremy Jordan, and I’m very happy to escape the cold temperatures of New York. And I’m going to be in Las Vegas next weekend, so let the sun damage continue. Speaking of Vegas, I was recently reminiscing about my very first time there in the mid-1990s. I finished working as assistant musical director on the very first play of side show and immediately hopped on a plane to musically supervise the first production of Plaid forever in Vegas. My friend Jack Plotnick came to visit me and I told him about an episode of The simpsons where the family is robbed. Bart laments that the thieves stole his stamp collection, and the rest of his family relentlessly mocks him for having a stamp collection. The phone rings and Bart picks up and hears Nelson Muntz say, “Stamp collection? Ha haI thought that was so funny. So later that day, Jack and I go to the casino, and we watch a woman play blackjack. She gets 12 and says, “Hit me. The dealer puts down a 2. “Hit me.” He puts a 3, so now she has 17. She thinks and then: “Hit me. He puts a 10. She was way 21. I immediately thought “Ha Ha” à la Nelson Muntz. . . and suddenly realized I didn’t mean it, I said it out loud. I literally laughed at a woman who could have bet and lost hundreds of dollars. I was mortified. She turned around, looked at me, (Oh oh !) and said, “Stamp collection? Haha!“Seriously. It was hilarious. She must have seen the same episode.
Anyway, I’m going back to Las Vegas, but this time to do my Seth’s Big Broadway Show the afternoon of Sunday February 27. I’ll be at the Smith Center, and I can’t wait for the weather to be nice. Come see me!
My show is full of me deconstructing Broadway, and if you’re wondering what that is, take a look:
Speaking of the wonderful Liz Callaway, she has an all-Sondheim show at Feinstein’s/54 Below March 23-26. She is a fantastic interpreter of Sondheim. Don’t forget she made her Broadway debut in We ride happily. Get tickets here.
I’m excited about Vegas, but disappointed that Celine Dion isn’t playing there anymore. I’ve never seen her perform live; I only saw Ana Gasteyer play her. Do you remember the shine Saturday Night Live sketches that Ana would do like Céline hosting a talk show? It was basically Celine running non-stop, then passive-aggressively bashing all the other guests for their lack of talent. I’m good friends with Ana, and I’ll never forget when we talked about the time she played Celine at a real Celine Dion concert in Madison Square Garden. Because Ana was literally pretending to be Celine, she had to wear exactly what Celine wore to the concert, which Ana described as “a ladies’ tuxedo with an extended belt.” It was the year of Titanic song. Ana said she took the stage at Madison Square Garden and threw herself into it. Of course, the audience first went crazy hearing their favorite song. . . then began to realize that it wasn’t Celine, it was Ana. Then Céline “surprised” her on stage and the audience freaked out. Ana said these kind of sketches are called sneaker tops. Description: Someone is impersonating someone famous, then the real famous person “causes” them in the act. Like this fantastic weekend update with Vanessa Bayer as Jennifer Aniston:
At SNL, Ana interpreted Céline as an incredible narcissist and kept repeating, with her French-Canadian accent, “I have the best voice. . . in the world!” Celine, however, didn’t understand what the joke was and actually thought people were laughing at the skit because Ana didn’t sing well. PS, that’s crazy because Ana sings very well. Well, I’m not saying that art imitated life, but I’ll let the description of their rehearsal speak for itself: Celine gave Ana a glimpse of how the stage of her concert would work and ended with: “Ana, it will be ‘hilarious because you will come out singing and everyone will laugh because you ring the bell so ‘terrible. I found a clip where you see Ana and Celine at this real concert. #ExtendedCummerbund
Depending on when you read this, you may get to see of them of my live concerts this week. On Monday, February 21 at 8 p.m. ET, I have Caitlin Kinnunen from Prom. Do you remember this incredible performance? This kiss happened on national television and I say well done!
And on Thursday, February 24, I have Rob McClure. I am so excited, they just announced that Mrs. Doubtfire officially returns. I was so obsessed with his Conductor Cam videos. Here is one of my favorites. I identify so much with his gaze.
Get tickets to all of my live concerts at TheSethConcertSeries.com.
And finally, I received an advance copy of We go together, which is the story of Fat. It’s so fascinating. Fat was a small show in Chicago that producers Ken Waissman and Maxine Fox thought could turn into a musical in New York. The book includes interviews with the original cast, producers, director and creative team, as well as future cast members like John Travolta. Travolta auditioned to be Danny Zuko on the national tour, but got the role of Doody because they thought he was too young. Travolta says he thought the fact that he was the actual age of a high school student would work in his favor (he was literally 18), but he looked too young to direct Jerry Zaks (Kenickie), Michael Lembeck (Sonny) and the other Burger Palace Boys.
The whole book shows the incredible talent it takes to create an original musical. No show is perfectly written. It takes skill to understand what works and what doesn’t and how to fix it. One of the most interesting stories in the book concerns “There are worse things I could do”. It’s now one of the show’s best-known songs, but it almost got cut. And I mean it was extremely close to be cut. After original Rizzo Adrienne Barbeau sang/laid her heart out, the audience barely clapped. Now, people who take things at face value would think, “I guess the song isn’t good.” But what’s fascinating about theater is that it’s a combination of things that makes something work or it doesn’t. Maybe the lights aren’t bright enough to see an actor’s face, or maybe the pitch isn’t right and the actor isn’t singing in the best part of their voice, or the song is in the wrong part of the show. Ken Waissman writes that he was standing next to their music editor, Sylvia Herscher, watching the show, and again, the song barely received applause. He told her they were probably going to cut it, even though they all liked the song. She told him the song has been great and was not the problem. . . it was the scene that led to it. The gang didn’t care when they found out Rizzo was pregnant. So when she sang the song, the audience didn’t care either. At the next performance, Rizzo’s pals all acted concerned. They added lines where Sonny tells Rizzo she can always talk to him about anything and Roger offers her money if she needs it. Suddenly, the same song received tons of applause. Here it is on the original recording which sounds good:
Listen, then calm down!