Let me first start the column by addressing what happened in Charlottesville. The rise of Nazism in this country is real. James and I started doing Concert For America in January and we’re very, very proud that one of the groups we’ve benefited every month is the Southern Poverty Law Center. They are at the forefront of fighting hate groups. What they do is sue their biggest leaders, win the lawsuit for lots of money which the leader can’t pay and the group goes bankrupt. Here’s the president of the SPLC speaking at our April concert about a recent lawsuit against one of the biggest Nazis groups in America. These Nazis targeted a Jewish women in the Midwest with online harassment against her and her child, the SPLC heard about it, contacted her and they’re now suing. His amazing segment with us (and her!) ended with Barry Manilow coming out and singing a thrilling “Let Freedom Ring.”
Please come to our Concert For America in Atlanta on Monday, August 28. Tony award winner Jessie Mueller, Grammy Award winner Melissa Manchester, and the hilariously brilliant Randy Rainbow are all performing. You can buy tickets or simply just donate to the cause at ConcertsForAmerica.com.
And now… Hello from the lovely St. Antoinette River Boat on the Rhine. This is the tenth Playbill cruise and it’s my first time on a riverboat. Except when I did Show Boat in summer stock. It was actually performed in New Jersey but I think a lot of the show takes place on a riverboat, doesn’t it?
Anyhoo, we embarked in Switzerland and James and I had a layover scheduled in London, so we decided to leave a day early and make a day of it to acclimate to the time and enjoy London. First, we stayed at our favorite hotel, which is the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Seven Dials. They sponsored the concert I did there with Audra McDonald last April and James and I were obsessed with our room. When we checked in Thursday night, we asked about availability and our previous room was available again! Yes, together again! Not since Peaches and Herb sang “Reunited” in the mid-to-late ’70s.
Speaking of Audra, we met her and her hubby Will Swenson and kids in a London park for a picnic. Audra is starring in Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar And Grill on the West End and sometimes on her days off, she’ll take a jaunt out of town. Of course, in America that means you drive for two hours to another state. In Europe that means fly for two hours to Spain, Italy, France or basically anywhere that has a rich 10,000-year history. She was telling us about her recent trip to Barcelona; when it was time to leave and go back to London, she got in a cab with her baby early in the morning. Then she took a long ride to the airport. Then she waited on a long line at the airport. She finally got to the front of the line…and realized she had taken Will’s passport. AH! She then had to get in a cab, go all the back to their hotel, drive back to the airport, buy a new flight back and then do her show that night. The hilarious part is the cab driver that drove her in the morning from the hotel to the airport…was the same cab driver who picked her again from the hotel to the airport! He pulled up, saw Audra and her baby and had a full Twilight Zone breakdown because he had literally picked up the same people two hours before from the exact same spot!
So, after James and I had a great day in London, we flew to Basel, Switzerland and met up with the other Playbill stars as well as two new passengers: my dad and his wife! They’ve never done one of these cruises and they are loving it! We first stayed in this luxurious hotel in Basel that featured a huge breakfast buffet. My Dad got there before me and Playbill Travel performer Charlotte d’Amboise told me that my dad walked into the breakfast room, took a look at the buffet, and announced “pick me up in a week.” Like father like son. Dual eating disorders.
Yesterday, we all got on the riverboat and it’s so stunning! And today we went to two beautiful villages in the Alsace region of France and we, shockingly, ate up a storm. Yassss chocolate croissants! Or OUIIII chocolate croissants. Tonight is the first show of the week: Tony Award winner Faith Prince. Cannot wait for these passengers to see her “Ladies Who Lunch.” Its so fantastic! The cruise just left yesterday, so more news from the high seas (low seas? river waters?) next week!
Back to Audra: I’m currently editing my third edition of Seth’s Broadway Diary and I’m finding so many Broadway stories I forgot about.
Here’s one I loved:
Audra and I were talking about our dogs and she told met that her new doggie sleeps at the foot of the bed and snores up a storm. The laundry basket in the bedroom is on Audra’s side of the bed and in the morning she’ll look toward the bottom of the bed and notice that her dog is covered in socks and random bras. Audra’s explanation is that she obviously gets woken up in the middle of the night by the snoring, reaches over the side of the bed and flings various underthings to quiet that mutt! It's either that, or her dog is a drag queen.
Speaking of dogs, I was chatting with my sister, Nancy, who told me that everybody seems to have one in Virginia Beach (where she lives). She always forgets how much of a dog culture she’s in and is constantly misunderstanding things. For instance, someone posted on Facebook that they almost “lost their baby” and Nancy was devastated thinking there was a pregnancy mishap, but it turned out that the woman’s dog almost got off its leash. Nancy is now trying to remember that most things pertain to dogs in her part of the state and she told me about a conversation she recently had with a friend. When you read it, make sure you do it sing-song style, a la Alexi Darling in Rent. “Nancy!” the woman trilled. “Our family’s about to get a new addition!” The last word was sustained with vibrato. “Details!” Nancy sang back. “Terry is moving in!” The woman continued, with the same melody. “That’s a-dorable!” Nancy sing-song’d. Then silence. Finally, the woman glared and said, “Uh…I guess it’s ‘adorable’ that my 17-year-old stepson is moving in with us.” Nancy thought quickly and said, “Well, it’s adorable because of all that youthful energy!”
Huh? First of all, her cover-up makes no sense. But more importantly, Nancy asked me, “Why would the woman add vibrato to the word ‘addition’ if it wasn’t about a dog?” Valid point. Everyone in music conservatory teaches: Dog = vibrato, stepson = straight tone.
Also, I just read that the fabulous Matt Morrison is going back to TV and (Juli’s favorite show) Grey’s Anatomy. Well, speaking of Matt and TV, I found this hilarious story:
“Marissa Jaret Winokur invited us to stay with her in L.A. and we're loving it…ish. The actual bed for me and James is actually an enormous couch that forces my back to do Cirque Du Soleil contortions while I’m sleeping. The best part is her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Zev, who is adorable. He and Juli are now best friends. My best friend Jack Plotnick came to visit and, of course, we immediately snooped in Marissa’s bedroom. We were so excited to see her Tony Award lying around. Then we looked closer and saw it wasn’t a Tony, it was an Emmy. What the — ? Then we picked it up and saw it wasn't even for Marissa…it belonged to Adrian Zmed! I confronted Marissa when she got home (blaming the snooping on Jack) and she revealed that she stored some boxes for Adrian when his house flooded. They’re still friends from the 1990s Grease national tour. However, she hasn’t yet returned the Emmy. And she used it for her own hilarity. She took a picture of Zev holding the Emmy and then blew the photo up to the size of a door. Then, after her good friend Matt Morrison lost the Emmy Award this year, she literally drove to his house and put the picture on his front door with the caption: You lost? Ouch. Even Zev has one of these. Amazing!”
OK, check out my Twitter @SethRudetsky (or Instagram or Facebook) for Playbill cruise photos and don’t forget to visit ConcertsForAmerica.com for tickets and amazing photos and videos!
For information and booking inquiries about Playbill’s upcoming travel adventures, visit PlaybillTravel.com.