ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Obsessed With the Evita Album

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Obsessed With the Evita Album A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.

Seth with Andrea Burns
Seth with Andrea Burns

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I've had it! I've always been obsessed with weather and natural disasters, and not only did I not feel any earthquake this summer, but the one time New York gets snow in October, I'm in Pittsburgh. Not cool, man. Not cool. Any to the hoo, I spent the weekend at City Theatre and did five performances of Deconstructing Broadway. I was sold out (except the Saturday matinee….synagogue?) and the audiences were great. I spent most of my time at Beehive, this cool coffee place in the 'hood, but on Sunday I went to Starbucks. A college student named Keaton who goes to Point Park asked me to take a picture with him. I had just come from the gym and hadn't taken a shower before or after my workout. I looked crazy and, even though I was at Starbucks for my coffee, my hairstyle was a tip o' the hat to the other coffee place I frequented: Beehive. It was literally standing up. As Tracy Turnblad said, "Welcome to the '60s." Part two: I always pull the "I don't read reviews" chestnut, but one particular review was copied and then put in my dressing room, so I have no choice but to put up the link here! P.S., I'm doing the show this Friday in Chicago at Mayne Stage and then giving my audition master class on Saturday! More info here. www.SethRudetsky.com.

I began my week doing a family outing with James, Juli, Tim Pinckney (from The Actors Fund), his partner Eddie Carlo and Andrea Burns, Peter Flynn and their son Hudson. We decided to go to a corn maze, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Once we were in, it was essentially James and Peter trying to find a way out while the rest of us followed in the background singing large sections of out favorite Broadway show albums from yesteryear. I don't know how we got to this particular one, but at one point, we were all doing Juan Peron's bizarre sprechtstime section from the top of Evita, Act Two — "Argentinos, Aregentinos! We are all shirtless now…"

Burns in Bye Bye Birdie.
photo by Larry Pry/The Muny

Speaking of Hudson and Andrea, this summer Andrea played Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie at the St. Louis Muny. Hudson came with her and because Andrea would be rehearsing all day and Hudson needed something to do, so the director said he could be in one of the town crowd scenes. Then, during rehearsal, he asked Hudson to come forward and do a little dance to fill a few bars of music. Of course, since Hudson has seen In the Heights a ton of times, he immediately launched into some funky hip-hop steps. The kibosh was put on that, and instead they taught him the twist. Even though it was one little scene, Andrea was so relieved he had something to do in the show. Cut to: The show opens and what was the review headline, you ask? "Andrea Burns Nails It?" No. "Not Since Chita?" No. It was "7-year-old Steals the Muny Spotlight." Seriously.  Not since "All About Eve" and/or "Mildred Pierce."

This week I saw Judy Gold: My Life as a Sitcom, Judy Gold's Off-Broadway show at the DR2 Theatre on West 15th Street. Throughout it, I was made aware of the scientific question, "How can Judy and I both have the same mother?" Mind-boggling. Judy talks about how her mother went into a full depression when David Berkowitz was found out to be Son of Sam. "How could a young Jewish man do such things? I don't understand," muttered her mother, walking around in a daze. Then, Judy recalls that a few days later her mother sat down triumphantly at dinner. She looked at everyone with an I-told-you-so triumphant stare and announced her newfound knowledge with undisguised glee: "Adopted!" When Judy got into college, her mother walked through her dorm looking at the last names of everyone on her floor and then announcing whether or not they were Jewish. Of course, Judy pushes the humor when she imitates her. "Stein? Jewish. Hmm…next door to that, Goldman. Jewish. Berman? Probably Jewish. Who's next….Hitler? Not Jewish."

Geri Reischl with Seth
photo by Robb Johnston

This week on "Seth Speaks" I got to meet someone I talk about very often in my comedy show….Fake Jan! For those of you who don't know, after "The Brady Bunch" was cancelled, producers Sid and Marty Krofft ("H.R. Pufnstuf") decided to bring them back to television for an hour of them singing and dancing. Even though very few of them could do either, let alone both. One of the things that was crazy about that show is that it wasn't supposed to be a variety show starring the actual actors, it starred the Bradys. So, Mike Brady was an architect who also happened to be starring in his own variety show. I don't understand why they stayed in their original jobs. Poor Alice was starring in a network variety show but was forced to keep her job as the maid. Anyhoo, back to Jan. All of the original actors playing the family returned, except Jan. The rumor had always been that Eve Plumb was too busy with her TV movie, "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway," and couldn't do the variety show. Well, I got to meet Eve Plumb after her hilarious performance in Broadway Backwards and she told that her father knew Sid and Marty Krofft's oeuvre, and he effectively told Eve that she couldn't do it because it would be the worst show on television. In truth, he was wrong. TV Guide ranked it the seventh worst show on television. Regardless, the Kroffts couldn't pretend that Jan was in boarding school (although that probably would have pleased Marcia), so they decided to hire another girl: Geri Reischl. They assumed that since she had blonde hair, no one would know the difference. What the — ? This isn't Stepford! Of course we knew, and thus came the nickname "Fake Jan." And in case you think I'm the only one who called her that, go to Geri's website; www. FakeJan.com. Geri now has her own CD called "Fake Jan Sings" and she's doing her own show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Brava! And, just to show you how bizarre my life is, right after I met Geri, I went to a reading of a play written by James starring…Eve Plumb! That's right! Within an hour, I went from Fake to real Jan. Next week, I'm hanging with Dick York and Sergeant.

Allen Hahn and Seth recreating the Oliver! opening scene

When I was in Pittsburgh I reconnected with an old friend of mine named Allen Hahn. Allen is now a lighting designer, but we met when we were both tweens in Oliver! at the Northstage Dinner Theater. It was in 1979 and it starred Shani Wallis, who played Nancy in the movie. Doing that show was an amazing time for me. I not only got to a miss a week of horrible, horrible school for rehearsal, but I got to leave early every Wednesday for the matinee. Delish! I'm not saying I was obsessed with that experience and talked about it non-stop for the next five years, but suffice it to say that my nickname on the bus was "Ollie." Allen was one of the other orphans, and we recently reconnected on Facebook. It was amazing seeing him again because he was such a vital part of my childhood. Not only because we shared the Oliver! experience but because he came to my Bar Mitzvah and bought me two albums: the soundtrack of the film "All That Jazz" and the record that hooked me into a deep obsession to this day — Evita. I still remember sitting down on my couch in the den, getting out the included lyrics(!) and listening to it for the first time. Cut to 30 years later, singing it in a corn maze with Andrea Burns.

Speaking of Evita, next year's Playbill cruise is going to Buenos Aires (amongst other cities) and the celebs have just been announced: Sherie Rene Scott, Marin Mazzie, Jason Danieley and Christine Ebersole (in a return appearance following the 2011 cruise). A montage of the last cruise was just put up using footage from my sassy new video camera! Take a gander and come see me in Chicago this weekend!

(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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