Who Was the ‘Zen Master’ Able Calm Down the Legendary Elaine Stritch?

Seth Rudetsky   Who Was the ‘Zen Master’ Able Calm Down the Legendary Elaine Stritch?
 
This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth announces the lineup for this week’s Concerts for America, and his Seth Speaks guest shares stories about Stritch!
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Elaine Stritch At Liberty

Happy week between Xmas and New Years! I’m writing on our flight from Newark to Atlanta and then to Bozeman, Montana. And from there, we take a car trip to Big Sky, Montana! Why? Because we’re doing Concert For America on December 27 and 28! The first night features Jessie Mueller, Andrea McArdle, Abby Mueller, Carrie Manolakos and Vanessa Williams, and then everyone is back again for the second night plus Audra McDonald! So watch the livestream both nights for full amazingness at ConcertsForAmerica.com or the Facebook page.

And, here’s the big news that I’ve sort of been in denial about: We moved! I’m in denial because we moved out of Manhattan and we don’t have an NYC apartment anymore. The reality is: We’re going to get a small NYC apartment in March, but right now I feel in this weird state of limbo because I don’t have a Manhattan zip code. However, I must say, I really like the house! We’re in Warwick, New York and one of the reasons we moved was to get a great high school for Juli. Boy, is this one perfect: Every day she begins with a two-and-a-half hour cosmetology class. Anyone who follows her on Instagram knows about her makeup obsessed! Look!

Industrial revolution look lol this was for school but still cute 💖

A post shared by 👻 Juliwesley2 (@juliwesley226) on

And speaking of following Juli, don’t forget to check out her “Broadway Babies” series here on Playbill!

The area we live in is beautiful and very rural. Here’s a view from our kitchen window one evening:

Seth Rudetksy 12.25.17

I’m a big animal lover, so of course I loved seeing all those deer in our backyard. But while I was marveling at their peaceful beauty, I was also in a panic because 99 percent of my brain just sees three walking Lyme disease carriers. Note that I took this picture from behind the window of my kitchen.

Seth Rudetsky 12.25.17  - 2

P.S. We just had our house painted and it was really “fun” hearing about the bears in the neighborhood. Why does anyone want to go outside ever?

Naturally, Andrea Martin has already come over and has told us in no uncertain terms how we should decorate everything. Right now she is seething because, even though we’ve followed 99 percent of her advice, we decided not to paint the fireplace white. Hoo, boy. The chilly December air is nothing compared to the frigid reception we got when we told her we going to keep the fireplace it’s wood color. I dropped that bomb while I was helping out at her COAF benefit, which helps build schools and medical centers in villages in Armenia. I thought for sure she’d be distracted by the enormous event happening around us and not react, but instead spent the entire dinner showing Vanessa Williams photos of the fireplace so she’d have someone on her side to apply more pressure. (P.S. Vanessa agreed with her).

This week on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM talk show, I interviewed (Playbill Cruise alum) Michael Feinstein who’s currently appearing at his namesake, Feinstein’s/54 Below. He is chock full of amazing stories. Here’s a few! If you don’t know, he wound up working for Ira Gershwin when Ira was 80 and he was 20. Turns out, Ira was the total opposite of his brother George, who was extremely confident and was always the center of attention. Ira told Michael that one time he was swimming in Manhattan and started to drown. He wound up being saved… but only because someone happen to see him. That’s right, he was drowning but opted not to cry out for help. Apparently, he was too reserved/polite to bother anyone! It reminds me of this article.

Michael asked Ira about Ethel Merman, and Ira said she was very green when she first starred on Broadway. After the opening night of Girl Crazy, her first Broadway show (where she brought the house down singing “I Got Rhythm”) Ira told her the reviews were wonderful. She asked, “What are those?” She was from the nightclub world and she probably had never been reviewed!

Michael also talked about his friendship with Elaine Stritch. It solidified when he was backstage with her at a huge concert at the Hollywood Bowl. She had just become sober and was in a panic about performing. She felt she absolutely could not go on. He told her she didn’t have to go out and be brilliant…she just had to get through it. It snapped her out of it. The pressure she felt to be superb paralyzed her. The same thing happened years later; Stritch had invited a group of her friends to watch her rehearsal for her show at the Café Carlyle. She had a moment in the middle of a song where she would pause and then suddenly sing again. She wanted her (fantastic) pianist, Rob Bowman, to come in at the exact moment she began. It was impossible to time. She kept doing it over and over, lamenting that they’d have to cut it if it wasn’t exactly right. Finally, Michael called out from the audience “Elaine! It doesn’t matter!” Again, that snapped her out of it. She had put so much pressure on something being perfect that she couldn’t see the whole picture. Brava, Zen Master Feinstein!

All right, I’m on the plane to Bozeman now and I’m dying to get back to one of the three books I brought with me! On a side note, Jack Plotnick (my Disaster! co-writer) came to visit us and, when we picked him up at the airport, we asked how the food was on the flight.
JACK: “They didn’t serve any food.”
SETH: “Wait. We always fly Delta and they always serve food.”
JACK: “Well, I could have bought something but I chose not to.”
JAMES: “Well, I’m looking online and I see that your flight did indeed provide meals.”
JACK: “What? I don’t think so!”
SETH: “Didn’t they give you a menu?”
JACK: “They did, but I didn’t want to buy anything.”
SETH: “Jack! The menu was showing what they provide for free!”
JACK: “Wait… that’s why there were no prices!”

And I’m out. Happy early New Year!

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