Caroline Rhea and Mario Cantone Spent Interesting High School Years With Insurance Scams and Digital Technology Confusion | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky Caroline Rhea and Mario Cantone Spent Interesting High School Years With Insurance Scams and Digital Technology Confusion This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth talks about the New Works Virtual Festival and Liz Larsen's experience in Starmites.
Caroline Rhea and Mario Cantone

Happy December! I hope you’re buying your Broadway-themed holiday gifts at They have so many great items like ornaments in the shape of Broadway stars as their signature roles. Here is my Evita deconstruction, which begins with me holding up the amazing Patti LuPone as Eva ornament.

And they have tons of Carols for a Cure CDs. Those are compilations of Broadway shows/stars singing holiday songs, sometimes beautiful, sometimes hilarious. Here’s a deconstruction of one of my favorite ones featuring the stars of Hairspray. I love it so much!

We’re going to feature BroadwayCares/Equity Fights AIDS on Tuesday’s Stars In The House. Not only will we have Tom Viola, the president of BC/EFA, but we’re going to show highlights from past years of The Red Bucket Follies and have different stars talk about their performances. Watch at P.S. we’re sooooo close to raising $600,000 for The Actors Fund! James and I are so shocked and elated that people are still donating despite the fact that mostly everyone is not doing well financially. Thank you!

Caroline Rhea in high school. c/o Caroline Rhea

In terms of my shows on SiriusXM, I’ve had so many hilarious interviews with stars for my Seth Rudetsky’s Back To School podcast. That’s where I talk to celebrities specifically about their high school years. Caroline Rhea’s episode just debuted, and her high school years were so anachronistic. She graduated in the early '80s, but it’s like she went to school in the '50s. One of the biggest scandals was when she had a party and she saw a kid from her high school smoking. She was distraught and irate and marched right over to tell him to put it out this second! Turns out, he wasn’t smoking…it was his digital watch. But because it was the late '70s, no one had seen anything like it, so the only explanation for the light coming from the corner of the room was a cigarette.

Of course, Rhea was always doing comedy all throughout high school. If she wrote a paper about Columbus, she would write on the front “This is the best paper about me I’ve ever read!” and attribute it to Columbus. Or, if she wrote about Einstein, she would have a quote from “Einstein’s best friend” saying Caroline really nailed it.

When I had Mario Cantone on the show, he talked about his mom, who was always pulling insurance scams. One time, his house got robbed and they got money from the insurance company for all the things that were stolen. Of course, a little while later, Mario was in some remote area of his house and saw a plastic tarp. What was underneath it? His television! He was so excited, he ran upstairs and told his mother, in front of all of her friends, “Ma! They brought the TV back!” She was furious.

Mario Cantone in high school. c/o Mario Cantone

Another time, his cousin was teaching him to drive. Well, when he pulled into the garage, he wound up hitting the barrier inside the garage and really damaging it (uh-oh!). This time, however, his mother wasn’t furious. She was actually elated. Why? Because she called the police, told them “someone” smashed into her garage, and collected the insurance. You can hear all my “Seth Rudetsky’s Back To School” episodes here.

On Seth Speaks, my weekly talk show, I had Courtney Reed, Laura Osnes, and Susan Egan from Broadway Princess Party, which is a show that features the trio who originated Disney’s Jasmine, Cinderella, and Belle, respectively! Susan told us that when she auditioned for Belle, she had a call back right before her call back to play Julie Jordan in Carousel. She wound up being offered Belle, so she never went to the Carousel one. Something similar, but reversed, happened to another Broadway star at the same time. This woman wound up not being cast in Beauty and the Beast but did wind up being cast in Carousel. Yes, Audra McDonald did not nail her ensemble audition for Beauty and the Beast, so she had to “settle” for playing Carrie…and winning the Tony Award!

On Stars In The House, we had tons of stars from the New Works Virtual Festival, which is happening throughout this month. I’m in A Mighty Road to Heaven with a cast including Miguel Cervantes, Marc Kudisch, and Shuler Hensley, while James is in Frontiers with Orfeh, Andy Karl, Ted Levy, Glenn Morshower, and more. You can watch the New Works Play Festival here.

Liz Larsen is in Family Game Night, and I asked her to regale us with stories from her time starring in Starmites on Broadway. The show was having lots of bizarre occurrences like the fire curtain coming down for no reason. A fire curtain is a wall of water that comes down at the front of the stage when there’s a fire, and it gets everything soaking wet. This includes the pit, which meant the sheet music got soaked. And the show was in the 1980s, so there were no computer files of the music. Everything had to be written out again! Liz said that the producer, who was into new-age stuff, got a shaman to come in and clear out the bad karma. He lit sage to clear out the bad karma and assigned an animal to everyone (I don’t know the reason for that). The shaman would say, “Who here is the lion?” Someone would raise their hand and he’d say, “A lion is the king! He is proud and spreads his strength everywhere!” Then he’d ask, “Who is the turtle?” Someone would raise their hand and he’d say, “The turtle is slow but meticulous. He gets done what needs to be done in a thorough, careful manner.” Finally, almost the whole cast had raised their hands and the shaman said, “Who is the thunderbird?” Liz thought, that sounds cool, so she raised her hand. He looked at her and said, “A thunderbird tries to soar… but falls to the earth and dies.” Yay? Regardless, Liz sounds great at the Tony Awards.

And finally, I have my weekly live concert December 7 at 3PM ET, this week with the great Ana Gasteyer. So many people know her from Saturday Night Live but don’t realize she’s an amazing singer. Not only did she star as Elphaba in Wicked in Chicago and on Broadway, but she has two amazing albums available. Here’s my deconstruction:

Get tickets at and peace out!
Recommended Reading:

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