Onstage and Backstage: Why Broadway Is Singing For Foster Children

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage and Backstage: Why Broadway Is Singing For Foster Children This week in the life of Seth Rudetsky, Seth’s starry Voice for the Voiceless concert bows tonight, and the Disaster! cast will perform at a CD signing.

Tonight is our second annual Voices for the Voiceless: Stars for Foster Kids benefit. What is it, you ask? Well, James and I are putting up a show to help You Gotta Believe, a great organization that focuses on getting older foster kids into a loving family. Last week, I had Regina Calcaterra on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM radio. She wrote the book Etched in Sand, which is about her truly horrific childhood. Her mom was extremely abusive, physically and verbally, and would often abandon her children for months at a time. They had no money for food and had to subsist on shoplifting. Yet they didn’t tell anyone what was going on because they didn’t want to go to foster care and get separated. Finally, the authorities found out and, just as they feared, the kids were separated from each other.

Regina was a very young teenager and was told by her social worker that no one would ever want to adopt her because she was a foster child, and that no one wants to adopt foster children period, especially older foster children.. Amazingly, despite missing so much school throughout her childhood, she got into college and eventually became a very successful lawyer, who recently had a great job with Governor Cuomo. Now she’s back in the private sector and still writing. Her current book tells what happened to her younger sister; when all the kids were put into separate foster homes, her mother found out and basically stole Regina’s younger sister and moved her to a farm in the Midwest. Despite repeated tries, Regina was unable to get the New York authorities to do anything. Regina’s little sister thought that her siblings had abandoned her, and she had to live with her abusive mother until she got out of school. This book tells her story and how she and Regina reunited.

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Darren Criss is one of the fabulous performers singing tonight at Voice for the Voiceless!

My favorite part of the interview was this: I first met Regina last year with a young woman named Brezan. Brezan was a foster kid who really wanted a permanent family, but none of her caseworkers helped her find one. She eventually aged out of foster care and her hope for a family was lost. Then, her therapist told her about You Gotta Believe.You Gotta Believe affirms that no one ever ages out, and they began to look for a family for her. P.S. Take that in. Her caseworker from the Administration for Children Services knew she wanted a family but didn’t tell her about You Gotta Believe. She let her age out without ever knowing it was possible. Wonderful. Regina is on the board of You Gotta Believe and became Brezan’s mentor. Brezan lived with her as a mentee while waiting to find her forever home. She always dreamed of having brothers and sisters and was looking for a family with siblings. Well, during the interview, Regina told me that sometimes your dream of what you want changes. Even though Brezan had always had a very specific image of what her family would be, she suddenly realized that she already had the family she wanted! A few months ago she asked Regina to be her forever mom….and Regina said yes! Ah! I was so happy when I heard! Anyhoo, tonight’s event is going to be so great and we have so many amazing singers. I’m especially happy we just added Darren Criss! Get tix at YouGottaBelieve.org.

Last Friday was the orchestra rehearsal for the show and, of course, I was running late. James and I got into the elevator at 11:55 to go up to the noon rehearsal on the sixth floor. On the fifth floor, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. One inch. Then…nothing. We were stuck! I called the front desk of the studio, and they called back after a few minutes and said a mechanic was on his way over. From the East Side. FYI, we were on 55th street and Twelfth Avenue! We wound up stuck in the elevator for 30 wonderful minutes. Right when we started to get rescued, I took this picture.

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Trapped in the elevator

P.S. The guy outside the doors was talking to us so James is looking towards his voice.

Of course, that can’t compare with what happened in the building where I record my SiriusXM shows. Right before I began working there, a guy was stuck in an elevator for an entire weekend! 41. Hours.

READ THAT STORY HERE.

We’re closing the benefit tonight with the Broadway For Orlando version of “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” There are different people in it, so I sent out a solo list. Both Marc Shaiman and Charles Busch are singing unison on a three-word solo. Literally three words. Thus follows the email exchanges between me, Marc Shaiman and Charles Busch:

SETH: Here’s your solo line for Monday.
MARC: I will wipe the floor with this b*tch!
SETH: With the solo? Or with Charles?
MARC: B*tch is going down! (photo below)

Goin’ down!
Goin’ down!

CHARLES BUSCH: Well... And here I thought we were going to be like the Andrews Sisters with me as Patty and Mark as a sweet but thick-ankled Maxene. If you're going to be competitive, I shall be practicing my gospel riffs, runs and melismas from now till Monday.
MARC: Mark? MarK?? MarKK??? This is war!

And finally, last Thursday was the 20th wedding anniversary of my friends Peter Flynn and Andréa Burns. Peter arranged an entire surprise party of Andréa’s close friends at a beautiful restaurant in the Village. At their wedding, Billy Porter sang “The Human Heart” from Once On This Island with Jason Robert Brown leading their friends in harmony (Billy, Jason and Andréa did Songs for a New World together). So, this year, we all had sheet music, got to the restaurant early and practiced with Jason at the piano. At around 1PM, Peter led Andréa into a private dining area of Palma, this amazing restaurant on Cornelia Street. Jason began the opening the vamp as she came up the stairs, so when she entered we were already singing. She was so shocked and so moved. It was amazing!

The hilarious part, however, happened after we finished; Peter looked at this enormous table of people and told us that in the morning, they were both walking through the park and Andréa said “Peter, I love that today is totally private. Just between us.” Yikes! Peter said he was like “Uh-huh. And…you know…if people celebrate us…which people might do…they shall…and the private can be public…” Fade out. Regardless, it was so lovely. And my favorite part was sitting next to a Broadway luminary (Let’s call her “Angela”), who was dishing a previous leading lady (Let’s call her “Margot”). Angela said that at one point in the show, she and another featured performer sang in a trio with Margot. Angela and her fellow performer’s shoes got consistently lowered every day by the costume department as per Margot’s wishes. By the fourth performance, the leading lady was still in sexy heels and the other two were clunking around in ballet flats. Then Angela told me she had an amazing solo in Act II…basically the 11 o’clock number. When she did her first performance of it on Broadway, it brought down the house. The next day Angela showed up at the theatre…and the Margot was in a fitting…for Angela’s costume! That’s right…that night Margot sang that 11 o’clock number. And Angela had a great story! Start guessing!

Don’t forget to come see my amazing DISASTER! castmates and I sing some hits from the show and sign CDs! This Wednesday, September 14 at 7 PM, Barnes and Noble on E 86th Street!

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Disaster! at Barnes and Noble

Peace out, Broadway lovers!!