ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Love, Loss... and Change Your Hair

Seth Rudetsky   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Love, Loss... and Change Your Hair A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

Seth with Maggie
Seth with Maggie

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Hello, again Playbill readers. First let me start with the sad. This has been an incredibly hard week since Maggie, my dog, passed away last Sunday night. James and I have been literally sobbing every day. Right now, I feel distant from the feelings because we're in LA. Being separated from New York makes it harder to connect with the fact that she's gone. I've gone away a lot over the past 14 years, and it feels like any other time I'm out of town. It's easier not being in the apartment and seeing all the places she would normally be sleeping or begging for food or standing by the door to go out. Or leaving the room and not having her follow me like she always used to. Walking around our neighborhood and having to look at all the stores we'd pass by on her walks was incredibly depressing all last week. This break has come at a great time, and I'm hoping that when we go home, all the memories we have of Maggie will only make us happy.

On to L.A. I'm out here because I'm playing for Andrea Martin's show (coming up in Palm Springs) and because I have my own show at Reprise. Sadly, Reprise just announced that they're canceling their upcoming season and working on a new business model, so I'm the last scheduled show. Yay, pressure! The good news is I'm sold out. I still got it! The other good news is my radio show is national. Meaning what, you say? Well, I was talking about coming to L.A., and I mentioned that I'd be staying with Marissa Jaret Winokur like I did last year. If you don't remember, we all stayed with her and her adorable family last February, but because she actually doesn't want overnight guests, she doesn't have an extra bed. That's right, she has a pile of pillows/couch that she calls "The Pit," and quite frankly it was the pits.

Marissa Jaret Winokur

The house is amazing, her son adorable, but I had to get three (3!) massages because my back went out from the gelatinous sleeping area. So, I was mentioning my aching back on Sirius/XM and the next thing I knew, I had an email waiting from Max Mutchnick (creator of "Will and Grace"). Max's husband is Erik Hyman, who is the best friend of one of my childhood best friends, Anne Martin, with whom I went to musical theatre summer camp (USDAN), and that's how I met Max. Max told me that he would not allow me to stay at a "poor actress's" house and that we had to stay at his place. Meanwhile, Marissa is loaded. It became a battle of the 1%. At the point Max told us he had a guesthouse, I stopped returning Marissa's phone calls. I'm writing this column in his backyard, overlooking his pool and tennis court and listening to the sound of his stone fountain while I smell the jasmine in the air. So pretty. TV pays a lot differently than Broadway. Especially TV in "the day." I was doing Andrea's show last weekend and Sean Hayes, Dan Bucatinsky ("Web Therapy") and his partner Don Roos came. I was fawning all of over Don because I'm obsessed with one of the films he wrote and directed called "The Opposite of Sex." He told me that it was easy to fund independent films when he made the movie, and we were talking about ways to make money now. His advice was: "Make a sitcom…in the '90's." Great. Excellent time-traveling advice.

Speaking of traveling, I'm going to Fayetteville, AR, to do Seth's Big Fat Broadway Show on Saturday, March 3. My motto will be "I'm putting the sass in Arkansas(s)!" Go to http://www.waltonartscenter.org/calendar/view.aspx?id=7217 for tix and info.

Marissa, James, Juli and Andrea heading down to San Diego

And, speaking of tix and info, we're going to extend Disaster!! That New York Times review was all that it took to sell out the show on Grammy Awards night and the upcoming Oscar night. So, we're going to do four more shows in March on Sundays at 9 PM. The whole cast is excited, but I'm slightly dreading the crowdedness of my apartment. What do I mean? Well, this show is so Mom and Pop that every week we have to move the set out of the theatre and store it. Where you ask? My living room. Yay! It's fun to live in an incredibly small New York apartment and have it be made smaller by set pieces representing the railing of a ship, a slot machine, a wall that's been in an explosion and more. Why has nothing in my life changed since college?

More L.A. Even though I refuse to throw my back out again at Marissa's place, we still got to hang out. She brought her family and her enormous family eight-seat car to Costa Mesa and drove me, James, Juli and Andrea Martin to the San Diego Zoo. The whole ride down had the non-stop subtext of "Are we going to have ample time at the zoo and be sure to make it back for Andrea's show?," so when we saw that there was a safari park 20 miles before the zoo, we pulled the car off the freeway and parked STAT. Tickets were around $40, but a man approached us and offered us six tickets for $25. We didn't know if it was legit or illegal, but the cheapskate in all of us took over and the next thing I knew, I was rifling through my wallet for cash. As I paid him, I asked if the tickets were really going to work or if it was a scam. He told me that if it made me feel better, he was a preacher (?!). Then after he handed me the tickets, he asked if I've accepted Christ as my savior. I pointed to my Semitic face and told him I was Jewish. He was excited and told me that he loved the God of Israel whom he thought was "awesome." I saw Marissa's hair in the distance and made a beeline straight for it. Speaking of which, she credits her hair for changing her career. For the last few years, she had pretty much stopped acting and began to do hosting gigs/reality TV. Shows like "Dance You're A** Off," "Dancing with The Stars," "The Talk," etc. She played Tracy in Hairspray this summer at the Hollywood Bowl and went out to eat afterwards with Jeff Garlin from "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He told her she needed to get back to acting and to stop having blonde hair, claiming that "nobody could recognize her." She went back to being a brunette and told me she hasn't stopped working since. She just finished a season on the sitcom "Retired at 35"! Amazing. And, right when Jeff told her to stop the reality stuff she was about to sign a contract for "Celebrity Wife Swap." Wowza. I'm sure that wouldn't have been a career low. Not since "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here." PS, I know she's the queen of hair extensions and so when I looked at her brunette curly locks, I asked, "How much of your hair is fake?" She immediately replied, "All of it." Brava.

This morning, we were told by the house cook that breakfast would be served at 8:30. So fancy! We all came to the main house and met Max and Erik's two twins, Rose and Evan. They are not even three years old and are already being completely immersed in Broadway. Rose sang (with all the wordy lyrics) her own version of "Don't Rain On My Parade" (with raised arms) and Evan, not be outdone, hauled out "My Man" with amazing sustained notes during "Fore-e-e-e-e-e-e…ve-e-e-e-e-er…mo-o-o-o-o-re!" Maybe they'll be able to trade off the role when the revival finally happens.

This afternoon I'm heading to Kevin Chamberlin's who is graciously letting use his house for a get together of my L.A. friends that I always want to see whenever I'm out here, but never do because I always run out of time. We're meeting at five because he said the sunset is beautiful from his place. Yay! Thursday is my show here in L.A. and then Friday, Andrea and I do her show at the McCallum Theater. She got two great reviews at her Costa Mesa show even thought she forgot her lyrics to the beginning of her encore. We couldn't stop re-creating the moment because we loved the fact that it was such a big set up for a song that was then followed by nothing. She told the audience, in a somber way, that she wanted to sing "Laughing Matter" because "I think it's so beautiful… and because it truly sums up my philosophy of life." The audience sat back to watch and…nothing. Finally, I fed the opening lyrics to her and she sang but we're obsessed with her whole attitude of "I'm at peace and let me show you how you can be at peace, too" in the introduction and then the complete silence.

My young adult book "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan" is thankfully selling well amongst adults (PS, here's a link for the book or kindle version http://www.amazon.com/My-Awesome-Awful-Popularity-Plan/dp/0375869158/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329769086&sr=8-1), and I just found out I'm going to do an audio book as well! I'll be taping it in NYC in two weeks and it's coming out on Audible.com. My first novel, "Broadway Nights," is also on audible.com and stars me, Kristin Chenoweth, Jonathan Groff, Andrea Martin and more. You can get that at www.audible.com/BroadwayNights and I'll give details on my new audio book when I have 'em. Let me sign off with a quote someone sent me about Maggie that was very helpful/devastating: "The price of love is loss. But still we pay. We love anyway."

(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.)

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