ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: His Life on the D List

Seth Rudetsky   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: His Life on the D List A week in the life of actor, writer, music director and Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky.
Kristin Chenoweth, Seth Rudetsky and Kathy Griffin
Kristin Chenoweth, Seth Rudetsky and Kathy Griffin

Let me begin by saying that over the first weekend of March, I'm going to the Watertower Theater in Dallas, TX, to do my Deconstructing show and an auditioning master class. You can get tickets and register for the class at sethrudetsky.com/blog/see-me-live. Ah. I'm focusing on warm, warm Texas because I am currently in transit to freezing Canada, and already it's a headache. First of all, it's a five-hour flight. Second of all, there's only one direct flight a day from New York. Before I continue, let me say I know that this is a "luxury problem." I feel a little like the woman in an article I love from The Onion that's entitled "My Personal Shopper Is The Worst." It has lines like La Perla bras? [AUDIO-LEFT]Completely off the mark. I told her I wanted sexy, not a bra for my grandmother. If that's her idea of sensuous lingerie, it's no wonder she can't keep a man committed to her.

Now, back to my problems. The one-flight-a-day to Calgary is at 7:45 AM…from Newark! Because it's international (Canada is supposedly another country), they told me to get there an hour-and-a-half early. That meant at 6:15 A.M. I flat out refused. Luckily, I got there by 6:35 but then found out that my five-hour flight doesn't serve food. Wonderful. I decided that I would therefore spend the whole flight sleeping since it was so crazily early and I had no meal to look forward to. Cut to I wasn't lucky enough to be in the delicious exit row with the extra leg room. I was directly in front of it, which meant that my seat doesn't lean back! Whoever heard of such a thing? My personal shopper is the worst! The "good news" is, Air Canada does offer the option of buying (overpriced) food. Not breakfast food, though, because I guess most people have already had a hearty breakfast by 7:45 in the morning. I finally decided to try sleeping, but the seats don't have that delicious stabilizing neck rest, so every five minutes I kept waking up because my neck was rolling around more than Jennifer Beals dancing to "Maniac."

Anyhoo, let me get more bad stuff out of the way so I can get to the fun. The worst thing that happened this week I pretty much blame on myself. I bought James a new pair of sneakers for Hanukkah because I was sick of him wearing dress shoes to the gym. As soon as he put them on, he commented on how slippery they were. I thought to myself, "Please don't return them, they look so great." Followed by, "But if he slips, I'll feel terribly guilty." Cut to the snowstorm we had on Tuesday. I shoveled our front steps but didn't put down any salt, partly because we ran out and partly because it's bad for the doggies. Well, James was wearing the sneakers I bought him, walking down the steps I shoveled, and he completely slipped, fell and dislocated his shoulder! It was horrible. After spending five hours in the ER and finally getting it maneuvered back in, he found out that he also broke a part of it when he fell. The good part is that our friend Lee Perlman got James an appointment with a great orthopedist, and he said it will probably heal without surgery. Poor James. Which is worse: walking around with your arm in a sling while hoping your shoulder heals properly, or your seat not leaning back? My personal shopper is the worst!

The super fun part of the week was… I filmed an episode of "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List!" I love that show so much. It was so cool to actually be on something I watch all the time. It reminds me of the time I first started subbing keyboards on Broadway. My first show was Les Miz, and it was so cool to be the one playing the stuff I heard on the CD all the time. But, let me clarify when I say I'm "going to be on the Kathy Griffin Show": I'm sure I'll be seen, but I can't guarantee it'll be for any longer than I was onstage in The Ritz. Here's the background: This season (which will begin airing over the summer) Kathy decides she wants to entertain at her mother's assisted-living facility. She knows she can't do her stand-up act because of her non-stop cursing, so she's decided she's going to sing a song from her mom's era. Kathy then realized she'd better learn how to sing. We met on Wednesday at Don't Tell Mama, and I taught her how to perform "You Made Me Love You" alongside the fabulous Kristin Chenoweth. And by "alongside" I mean with me completely in the background. Essentially, being on "My Life On The D-List" put me on the D-list. Seriously. At one point, I was literally like Lisa Kudrow in "The Comeback" when she tries desperately to edge up from her place in the back during a photo shoot. As Kathy and Kristin were chatting, I started chiming in comments from my seat at the piano. Of course, they were both in the middle of the room, so I had to stand to get nearer to them. I was then asked immediately by the director not to get off the piano bench. Then, we took a break from filming, and a make-up artist ran up to Kristin and adjusted her face while another one flanked Kathy. I looked around and finally said, "Um…I seem to be the only person without anyone fixing my make-up." There was muttering into various headsets, and finally someone walked up to me. Not a make-up artist, mind you, but just literally a person. My make-up was then "adjusted." Not with a re-touch of powder, under-eye concealer or even some generic lip balm. No, the make-up artist (AKA crew member) simply blotted my face. Pat, pat, pat. Let me continue: Not with a brush, not with a make-up pad, but literally with a paper towel.

Regardless, Kathy was hilarious. She's so obsessed with getting accolades. If you don't know, her comedy CD is called "For Your Consideration," and her new book is entitled "Official Book Club Selection." When she rehearsed with us, she'd sing five notes and then ask if she could win a Tony for that. We would tell her no, and then she'd ask if we could figure out a way for her to win a Tony Award without her actually doing a Broadway show. Our conversation then segued to Ambien, Botox, Collagen injections, Liza, pageants and Kathy complimenting Kristin on shows she wasn't in: "Kristin, I heard you were amazing in Frost/Nixon." After we "wrapped," as we say on TV, Kathy invited me to her show that was the next night at Madison Square Garden. I was so psyched! She got tickets for me and James, and we were seated directly in front of Joan Rivers! Then, right when the show began, someone grabbed my face from the row in front, and it was Sutton Foster! Sutton was laughing so hard throughout. I loved my seat and the A-list stars around us, and I thought, "Perhaps, I'm no longer on the D-list." That afternoon, I had gotten an email from the producer Bryan Scott (whom I love) telling me how to get backstage so I could see Kathy after the show. Right after it ended, James and I ran to the side entrance that led directly backstage. A security guard glared at us, and I haughtily explained, "I'm Seth Rudetsky. I just filmed an episode. We're here to see Kathy." I smirked as he got on his headset and told the powers-that-be I was waiting to see Kathy. He then informed me, "Kathy's gone. She left right after the show." And, I officially moved to the E list.

Back to Broadway. Last Monday, I interviewed Tony Award winner Karen Olivo for the Broadway Artist Alliance, which is a theatre training program for kids. Karen told us that she turned down the audition for Anita in West Side Story because she knew she couldn't dance the original choreography. They finally told her that they wanted to see what she could do and would modify steps if they had to. She met with the assistant choreographer and learned one section of "America." Since she was able to do it, she asked to learn another. After that one, the assistant told her that if she learned one more, they'd bring her to get seen by Arthur Laurents. I asked how many call-backs she had after that, and she said none. Turns out, she had her first audition one week before rehearsals began! Once she got it, they put her in severe training: one hour of pilates every morning followed by one hour of ballet. On top of that, she's become a vegan. She loves doing the role, but it is exhausting. I'm obsessed with what she told one of my friends. Right after previews for West Side Story began, she lamented, "It's hard being a triple threat! It's so much easier to be a double threat with potential." Hilarious.

I'm now on my way back from Canada. Matt Grue, who runs The Matchbox Theater, and his staff treated me amazingly! When I got to the hotel in Red Deer, they not only had all different kinds of food in my room that my manager told them I liked, but they also had four Broadway-themed cupcakes, especially made by the Babycakes Cupcakery. There was Avenue Q, Phantom, Legally Blonde and Hair. Check out the side picture (taken after I ate the Hair one. So sue me. It looked delicious).

When I got to Canada, I was still feeling a little D-listy, so I was excited when I stopped for coffee at a Calgary Starbucks and the guy behind the counter recognized me! I was being chauffeured around by Clayton who works at the theatre, and while we were on line, the barista said, "Wait a minute…I recognize you!" I smiled kindly because I noticed he was not comfortable looking me in the eye. I assumed he was so cowed by my fame that he had to address me while looking to my left. As I was about to list my credits so he could figure from where he knew me (Legally Blonde reality show? Six lines on Law and Order: C.S.I.? four years ago?) I took a quick glance to my left. Turns out, he actually was looking there. Clayton, who was standing next to me, used to be a Starbucks manager, and the barista recognized him from a regional conference. I was horrified, mortified and devastated. And, my personal shopper is the worst.

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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 contacted at his website SethRudetsky.com, where he has posted many video deconstructions.

Broadway-themed cupcakes by the Babycakes Cupcakery
Broadway-themed cupcakes by the Babycakes Cupcakery
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