ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Disaster in the Making, Plus a Few Minutes With Jiminy Glick

Seth Rudetsky   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Disaster in the Making, Plus a Few Minutes With Jiminy Glick A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

Seth with Drew Gerai and Jack Plotnick after rehearsal.
Seth with Drew Gerai and Jack Plotnick after rehearsal.

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What a week! First of all, tonight (May 23) is the first performance of Disaster, the '70's disaster-movie musical I wrote with my friends Jack Plotnick and Drew Geraci. Rehearsals were great last week and we filmed a section featuring high beltress Carrie Manolakos. I'm obsessed with her never-ending range.

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Then tomorrow, I'm off to Boston to do an expanded version of my "Brady Bunch Variety Hour" deconstruction show. They decided to call it That 70's Deconstruction Show because I'm also featuring footage from other horrifying variety shows, including the first Dora Hall show. If you don't know who that was, she was a performer who had a very rich husband who owned the Solo Cup company. He literally bought an hour of commercial time and put a variety show, starring her, into that hour. I'm not saying she was a little old to be making her variety show debut, but suffice it to say the show was filmed in 1972…and she was born in 1900. You do the math. Also, in terms of her experience, I read that she had put performing on the back burner since the war…World War I. Look it up. Anyhoo, I'll be showing some classic moments from her show and the "Brady Bunch Variety Hour" and more at Speakeasy Stage on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. For tickets, go to http://www.speakeasystage.com/index.php.

Last week, I flew back on Saturday morning from Toronto where I had spent the weekend doing Andrea Martin's show. We were discussing the Tony Awards and laughing about Nathan Lane, who's one of her best friends. After Andrea won the Tony Award for My Favorite Year, she was nominated again for her next show, Candide. This was the year of The Life, FYI. She was chatting with Nathan and mentioned that someone told her she had a chance of winning, and before she could finish her sentence he simply said, "No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o." And then spelled out every syllable: "Lillias White." That was that. And he was correct. But we're obsessed with his lack of "Well, you are great in your show…" or "It's so hard to know who deserves an award…," etc. Instead, it was simply, "No-o-o-o-o-o-o!"

Susie Mosher

Sunday night I saw Susie Mosher's amazing one-woman-show The Great Daisy Theory and, yet again, I loved it! I'm obsessed with the section where she shows a montage of all the small film and TV roles she played when she lived in L.A. She accompanies the montage by singing "Eye of the Tiger" and ends it by singing "And he's watchin' us all in the eye…" and it segues to her saying the word "I-i-i-i-i-I" and then the full sentence, "I-i-i-i-I made $30,000!" Pause. "In ten years." Devastating poverty level living. I went to see it with Jack Plotnick who had just flown in from London where he was filming a Best Buy commercial. He had been filming a movie in L.A. and the London people asked him to film himself dancing down the street for his commercial audition He kept his film costume on and got his friend to film him. He was dancing to "Stayin' Alive" but after he filmed, he changed it to the song that the commercial was going to use and it weirdly matched up perfectly. He sent in the tape and booked the job. He just put his audition tape up on youtube. It's so much fun!

Last Tuesday, I recorded my new talk show "Seth Speaks," and had my comedy idol, Martin Short, as the guest star. There's always this idiot theory amongst certain comics that women aren't funny which is so strange to me because my favorite comics growing up were mainly women; Lucy, Carol Burnett, Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner and Catherine O'Hara. And there were very few guys I really worshipped, but Martin was one of them. Anyway, I was so thrilled to talk to him and he was, of course, hilarious. I literally wanted to spend hours with him asking him about every character. I mentioned Ed Grimley crazy hair and he said that was because he played the character in Second City in Toronto and someone in the cast always made fun of him for slicking up the front of his hair, so one night he slicked it as high as he could go and the audience loved it and the 'do stayed. I asked him to do Jiminy Glick for me and he told me that the voice was based on a man who lived in his neighborhood who would "(in high voice) Take ya to the movies (low voice) if ya stayed off his lawn all year." I had him recreate my favorite moment he improv'd when he interviewed Kathie Lee.

JIMINY: Kathie Lee Gifford, you were born Kathie Lee Epstein, a Jew.
KATHIE: May I remind you…Jesus was Jewish.
JIMINY: Hmmm….I knew he was thrifty.

He mentioned that he's 61 and I asked him why he looked so young and he said he never got any work done, "Because no one ever looks at that person and says, 'Ooh, there goes that 38-year-old,' they say, 'There goes that 61-year-old who looks like a burn victim.'"

e is from Canada and was in that amazing before-they-were-stars production of Godspell with Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Victor Garber and Paul Shaffer as the music director. Marty had just come from doing "Letterman" and was meeting Paul Shaffer for dinner after my show. Paul came with him to Sirius/XM and was sitting in the audio booth and Marty brought him into the studio after the interview. I was telling the audience how Paul had written the amazing song "It's Raining Men" years before for Donna Summer but she didn't want to sing it because she was a Christian and there were too many "Hallelujahs," etc. The next thing I know, Paul is sitting at the piano and starts playing "It's Raining Men" and I start singing it…in the original key. It was a crazy combination of belting, head voice and vocal damage. Then Marty told us that there's going to be a Godspell reunion in NYC featuring everyone cast from the last 40 years. That lead to a rousing version of "God Save the People" featuring Paul and Marty…and me on the last note. The whole thing was videotaped…watch!

Seth at the Lucky Guy opening night.
photo by Krissie Fullerton

The bad part about the week is that I had started to feel sick last Monday night and it got worse. On Friday, I showed up to rehearsal and literally had to lie down with my eyes closed. I felt like I had to go to sleep no matter what and the liquid in my head was giving me crazy vertigo. I felt so sick that I was terrified I wouldn't be able to do my Disaster show. P.S., Denis Jones, the director, was obsessed with the fact that I was lying down completely, with my eyes closed, yet I was still giving notes on the show. Nothing stops my controlling ways! I actually had to leave rehearsal (!) and saw the allergist to the stars, Barry Kohn, who prescribed me tons of stuff and I was able to be at rehearsal the next day, good as new! Yay Barry, Claritin, Z-pac, Flonase and steroids! And Yay Varla Jean Merman. I went to the opening night of Lucky Guy which stars Varla Jean (real name Jeffrey Roberson) and Leslie Jordan. First of all, Jenn Colella does so much great comedy in the show and hits crazy belted high notes. I cannot wait to get the CD. And Varla pulls every comedy trick out of the book. The audience loved all of her hilarious bits and, even though I hate to read reviews, I was thrilled that the New York Times compared Varla and Leslie to Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman. What a coup!

All right, I've spent the whole week obsessing about the show and changing lines and piping up with comedy bits and now I have to actually learn my part. The show is about to happen! Peace out 'til next week!

(Seth Rudetsky has played piano in the pits of many Broadway shows including Ragtime, Grease and The Phantom of the Opera. He was the artistic producer/conductor for the first five Actors Fund concerts including Dreamgirls and Hair, which were both recorded. As a performer, he appeared on Broadway in The Ritz and on TV in "All My Children," "Law and Order C.I." and on MTV's "Made" and "Legally Blonde: The Search for the Next Elle Woods." He has written the books "The Q Guide to Broadway" and "Broadway Nights," which was recorded as an audio book on Audible.com. He is currently the afternoon Broadway host on Sirius/XM radio and tours the country doing his comedy show, "Deconstructing Broadway." He can be contacted at his website SethRudetsky.com, where he has posted many video deconstructions.)

Jeffrey Roberson, Leslie Jordan, Jen Colella, Savannah Wise, Kyle Dean Massey and Jim Newman
Jeffrey Roberson, Leslie Jordan, Jen Colella, Savannah Wise, Kyle Dean Massey and Jim Newman Krissie Fullerton
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