What Sign from the Theatre Gods Told Liz Callaway to Join Miss Saigon | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky What Sign from the Theatre Gods Told Liz Callaway to Join Miss Saigon

Plus, how Sebastian Arcelus scored five free tickets to Barbra Streisand's concert.

Liz Callaway Heather Gershonowitz

Hello from the Norwegian Fjords! I’m on an amazing cruise with so many fun people. The best part is it’s chilly. Yes. James actually said, “Close the balcony door. I’m getting cold.” It is the perfect place to visit during a heatwave and, holy cow, it’s so beautiful!

I’ll start with a Seth Signature Story. Okay, we ate dinner on the cruise with friends, and when I was leaving the table, I realized I couldn’t find my bag. I remembered saving a seat for Paul Castree with said bag, but now it was missing. Ugh. James had left around fifteen minutes before I did, so I thought maybe he had taken it with him. I texted him and he told me he hadn’t. Really? I knew he said he didn’t, but I still kind of thought maybe he had. Regardless, I looked for it for ten more minutes before I went to do my show with Sebastian Arcelus.

After the show, I went to the Lost and Found at reception. My bag was not there. Then Paul Castree’s husband, Stephen Spadaro, went back to the restaurant and looked for it thoroughly, which involved hitting his head on the table when he was scrounging around underneath. Then I went back to Lost and Found. Still nothing. Then I went back to the restaurant. I was looking thoroughly underneath the table, but, this time, the waiter joined me. It was definitely nowhere to be found. The waiter told me he would check the CCTV and get back to me. What a mystery! 

Finally, around midnight, I decided to go to bed. In the bedroom, I noticed something next to the bed, my bag! Turns out, I had never taken it to the restaurant in the first place. 

I had indeed a saved a seat for Paul, but I had saved with my jacket. I knew it was something substantial and, in my mind, that translated to my bag. Yay. It was really worth searching in multiple places, having Stephen join the search and hit his head, vaguely not trusting James, which he picked up on, and bothering the waiter non-stop. This is why it’s not fun to hang out with me.

Well, after that happened, Paul told me a story that gave him a headache. When he was living in the west 70s, he went to meet his friend, the fabulous actress Janet Dickinson, in a midtown park between her matinee and night show. When he walked back uptown, he realized he had lost his wallet. He texted his husband Stephen and told him he was going back to the park. Paul returned midtown, and his wallet was right underneath the bench where he had been sitting. He texted Stephen to say the found his wallet right where he thought it would be. To capture the amazing luck of its perfect placement, he put his wallet back underneath the park bench to take a quick photo.

Paul then walked back home, but when he got to his apartment he realized he didn’t have his wallet again. OMG. He texted Stephen who basically replied, "What!?" 

Paul immediately headed downtown again. This time, however, no wallet in that perfect spot underneath the bench. It was gone. Paul went back to his apartment and basically shut down emotionally. He lay on his couch with the lights off until, out of nowhere, his buzzer rang. 

“Are you Paul Castree?” 

A woman had found the wallet, had seen his address on his license, and had come to return it!

Before we celebrate with Paul, let’s just take in the following:

  1. He was lucky enough to find his lost wallet
  2. He then put it back, where it had been lost, for a photo opportunity which caused him to...
  3. Leave it there again!

I see we are equally not fun to hang out with.

Stephen Spadaro, Paul Castree. Stephanie J Block, and Sebastian Arcelus Courtesy Seth Rudetsky

Anyway! I began the week by doing a concert with Liz Callaway who, of course, sounded great. Right after this cruise, she’s heading to Ireland for a Sondheim concert. We shared lots of fun career stories including her audition for Miss Saigon. From the start, she completely assumed she wouldn’t get the part. She was four months pregnant at the time, and knew previews would begin right after she gave birth. Even though she knew she couldn’t do it, she auditioned in case they needed a replacement. Liz and her husband, Dan Foster, were driving to the audition from Boston and were on the Massachusetts Turnpike. All of a sudden, a helicopter landed on the side of the road. True on-the-nose foreshadowing!

It was such a literal sign from the theater gods. Liz went to the audition, and when she left, she told Dan, “You know, I think if I weren’t pregnant, I would have gotten this role.”

Cut to: she got the role! Liz was assured they could work around her pregnancy and they did. Of course, the “work around” was only two weeks after giving birth and she had a cesarean!

Liz's son Nicholas came early, so her first day back was the first day of tech rehearsal. She remembers the crew playing a joke on her about her Act Two entrance, which took place on the second floor of a hotel. They put a ladder backstage and told her she had to climb it. Ha ha ha! Turns out, they weren’t joking. Liz had to climb a ladder after a cesarean. She told us she would start the climb so early because she had to go so slowly!

I found this great recording of her singing with Lea Salonga post ladder climb!

Sebastian Arcelus was in my next concert and he was fantastic. He has such a pretty voice, and it’s always so easy no matter how high he sings! At one point, we were talking about his parents, and he told us his mom looks like Barbra Streisand. I looked at him and immediately saw Barbra in his face. During the 1990s, at a big Barbra concert at Madison Square, his mom walked up to the box office and pointedly asked, “Do you have my tickets?”

I thought she was literally pretending to be Barbra, but she had another tactic. She confidently “reminded" them who she was, Barbra’s film stand-in!

They were dubious until she asked, threateningly, “Do you want me to call Babs?”

Well, that did it. She got five tickets! #Werk

We have some amazing fans of Stars In The House on the ship. Isabel from Germany is here. She watched Stars In The House in real time, which meant that every night when we were streaming live at 8 PM ET, she was watching at 2 AM in Germany. That’s dedication. Donald and his wife Mel are here. They gifted us the most amazing piece that he commissioned from Joanne Cooke Sculpture. It’s a Stars in the House-themed ceramic iPad with a ceramic keyboard featuring stunning replicas of our four doggies. WE LOVE IT SO MUCH!

A gift from Donald Young Courtesy Seth Rudetsky

And finally, it’s my good pal Paul Castree’s birthday on July 25th. Here’s one of the hilarious videos he made with me. Enjoy!

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