I was first introduced to Seth Rudetsky by my friend Veri when we were working in group sales together, but it was in 2002 when I really got to know Seth during his critically acclaimed Off-Broadway show "Rhapsody in Seth." As someone who has read his weekly column on Playbill.com for years, it's a real honor to be able to interview Seth Rudetsky: theatre extraordinaire, Sirus/XM Radio host, Broadway star, Musical Director, and author.
Seth is the Broadway host, seven days a week, on Sirius/XM Radio. As a pianist, Seth has played for more than a dozen Broadway shows including RAGTIME, LES MIZ and PHANTOM. He was the Artistic Producer/Music Director for the first five annual Actors Fund Fall Concerts including DREAMGIRLS with Audra MacDonald (recorded on Nonesuch Records) and HAIR with Jennifer Hudson (recorded on Ghostlight Records, Grammy Nomination). In 2007 he made his Broadway acting debut playing "Sheldon" (singing “Magic to Do” in a devastating unitard) in THE RITZ directed by Joe Mantello for The Roundabout Theater. Off-Broadway he wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed RHAPSODY IN SETH (directed by Peter Flynn) at the Actors Playhouse and has also appeared on TV on LAW AND ORDER C.I. and had a recurring role on ALL MY CHILDREN. As an author, he penned the books THE Q GUIDE TO BROADWAY, now in it’s third printing, BROADWAY NIGHTS (also released as an audio book on audible.com featuring Andrea Martin, Jonathan Groff and Kristin Chenoweth) and the recently published "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan." Seth was also the vocal coach on MTV’s LEGALLY BLONDE reality show and he continues to write a weekly column on Playbill.com.
Seth's newest show, co-written with his friend Jack Plotnick, "Disaster!" is currently enjoying a sold-out run at the Triad Theater in NYC, through March 25. This June, Seth will be hosting the 2012 Broadway Specactular. From June 8-11, theatre lovers will be able to come to NYC and see PORGY AND BESS, starring four time Tony Award Winner Audra MacDonald, EVITA starring Ricky Martin and the hit sensation SPIDERMAN – TURN OFF THE DARK. Attendees will also experience private performances with Tony Award Winner Michael Cerveris (Evita) and Tony nominated star Joshua Henry (Porgy and Bess) while induldging on our delicious cuisine and libacious cocktails. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to work in theatre? My parents played Broadway albums all the time while I was growing up. Here's a little proof of how young I was when my obsession began.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Barbra Streisand. There are so many things I want to deconstruct in front of her and ask her about. Specifically this:
3. You are the Broadway host on Sirius XM. What made you want to have your own radio show? I love showing people across the country what's amazing about Broadway music. Specifically asking them to listen to certain notes (Judy Kuhn's high B flat at the end of A HEART FULL OF LOVE) or telling them that just because a show is a "flop" the music can be amazing (MACK AND MABEL) and I love that kids listen to the show. I get so many emails from parents who say they listen with their kids...I feel like I'm passing the torch because my parents introduced me to Broadway.
4. You also co-created, co-wrote, and star in the hilarious Off-Broadway musical "Disaster!" at the Triad in NYC along with a host of Broadway performers. "Disaster!" is a musical comedy paying tribute to the disaster movies of the '70s. What made you want to make a musical based upon the disaster moveis of the '70s? What has been the best part about this show so far? I've always been obsessed with disasters. I was constantly reading about them as a child and knew so many facts (ask me about the Anchorage earthquake of 1964 or the NYC blizzard of 1888). I also, of course, loved the slew of Irwin Allen disaster movies that I watched as a child. Me and my friend Drew Geraci (with whom I did FOREVER PLAID) thought it would be funny to do a disaster movie as a musical with music from the 70's. This was WAY before MAMMA MIA or any of the jukebox musicals hit broadway. But, because of my adult ADD, I didn't start writing it til last year...and I wound up writing the bulk of it with my friend Jack Plotnick. The best part has been how we wrote it in a vacuum and all the jokes we thought were funny actually work! It's still surprising to me to hear laughs because we only run once a week so even though we opened in January, we've only done around 8 performances. Also, it's very satisfying hearing the audience sadness when certain characters die. We worked really hard to make the show funny but to have real characters that you care about.
5. You recently released your 3rd book, but first young adult book, "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan." What made you want to write a book for young adults? What do you get from writing that you don't get from performing/musical directing? Where is your favorite place to write? I love love love reading. It's probably my favorite thing to do besides perform, so it's very satisfying for me to write a book. Also, I love young adult books. I've read them ever since I was a young adult! My recent favorite is the "Pretties/Uglies" series and my all time favorites is "The Great Gilly Hopkins" and the "His Dark Materials" series. Writing is a little less stressful than performing because there is no performance anxiety. Once it's written, it exists and you don't have to worry about messing up the material because you're nervous. I don't have a favorite place to write. I pretty much just write in my apartment. But I will say, that I could never write a book free hand. I think so fast and handwrite so slow I have to have a computer to write everything down as it comes into my ADD brain.
6. This June you will be hosting the 2012 "Broadway Spectacular," a weekend celebrating theatre during it's most magical time, The Tony Awards. What made you want to host this weekend? How did you decide which shows were going to be involved? What do you hope attendees come away with from this weekend? My Dad lives in California and has been begging me to host a Broadway weekend. A lot of them exist, but they're not hosted by actual Broadway insiders and he kept telling me that tourists would love to see Broadway stars up close with me leading the whole weekend. So, when a big travel agency approached me, I said Y-E-S. I chose the shows based on what I think people will enjoy/want to see. "Spider-Man" is an eye-popping crowd pleaser, no matter what people think of the show. People are consitantly blown away by the stage craft. "EVITA" is one of my favorite shows EVER and "Porgy and Bess" has some of the best singing I've ever heard on Broadway. I hope people leave and think they've had the most special Broadway experience they've ever had where they truly felt like they were on the inside.
7. In addition to everything we've discussed, you also travel the country with your "Deconstructing Broadway" show. How did you come up with the ideas for this show and what do you get from doing it? I came up with the idea of DECONSTRUCTING BROADWAY because of that Barbra/Bea Arthur clip I linked in question #2. Rosie O'Donnell saw me perform that (at "Gypsy of the Year") and told me I should do a whole show of "that." So, I guess, SHE actually thought of the idea!!! She told me if I did it, she'd produce the show. I wrote the whole show, and...she never produced it. Wah wah. BUT I had a show that I've been able to take EVERYWHERE. Big cities like Boston (Where I won the IRNE award), Los Angeles (where I sold out at REPRISE) and small places like Springfield, Ohio and Red Deer, Canada (twice!). In terms of what I get, I love making people obsessed with Broadway. I love when folks leave and say "Now, I have to get the CD to 'Pajama Game!'"
8. What have you learned about yourself from your varied career? hmmmm....One of the big things I've learned is to not be freaked out by feeling blocked. Well, it's one of the things I'm trying to learn. Meaning, right now, I have a writing assignment and I feel totally blocked and, because I've been through this before, I can feel more relaxed. AKA I was COMPLETELY blocked doing the re-write on DISASTER with Jack but suddenly something happened and after two months, the re-writes were made in two weeks. Same thing with my young adult book, my editor wanted a plot point changed and I could NOT think of how to do it, then on a set doing the Varla Jean Merman movie (!) I suddenly thought of how to solve it.
9. I was fortunate enough to get to see you in your Off-Broadway one man show "Rhapsody in Seth," your Broadway debut in "The Ritz," and on "All My Children." Looking back, what did you enjoy most about these experiences? Wowza. Well, RHAPSODY IN SETH was thrilling because it was my experience writing/performing my own show. Plus, I was really happy that so many people, from so many different walks of life, came up to me and said "That was my childhood." THE RITZ was amazing because it was BROADWAY! And we added that section with me singing MAGIC TO DO so it was fun to do a revival yet get big laughs from something that we made up. ALL MY CHILDREN was amazing because it was a blatant TV show! It was such a new experience. And I had the real ALL MY CHILDREN experience...I got to play my scenes opposite Susan Lucci!
10. You have also recently brought back "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox." How did this originally start and what made now the right time to bring it back? Seth's Broadway Chatterbox began because I felt Broadway people get 5 minutes on TV to discuss their careers and it's always horribly watered down/boring and/or wrong. I remember when Faith Prince was on Jay Leno and obviously there had a been a pre-interview and she was going to talk about when she's nervous she makes pancakes. So, when she was waiting to hear if she was nominated for a Tony, she made a ton of pancakes. Of course, instead of asking "Where were you when you were waiting to hear if you were nominated for a Tony?" he asked, "Where were you when you won the Tony?" Huh? Um...at the Tony Awards. oy. I can't take it. So, I wanted a full hour where people can tell all the stories about Broadway I love to hear whenever I'm hanging out with my theater friends. What was the worst audition ever? Funniest onstage mess-up? How did you come up (fill in the blank) etc. And it wound up being an easy way to raise money for BC/EFA (with the admission price and the sale of the DVD's). I stopped doing the Chatterbox because I was doing the SIRIUS XM LIVE ON BROADWAY show every Wednesday and it was too overwhelming to do them back-to-back, but the Broadway League cancelled our contract to do the live show, so I began to miss doing the interviews and I brought back the Chatterbox!