Onstage & Backstage: Remembering Kevin Chamberlin's Mob of Tween Fans and Christine Ebersole's Drive-By Belting

Seth Rudetsky   Onstage & Backstage: Remembering Kevin Chamberlin's Mob of Tween Fans and Christine Ebersole's Drive-By Belting
 
A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.
Mandy? Or a fawn?
Mandy? Or a fawn?

Happy New Year! And more importantly, happy new "Downtown Abbey" season. James and I love watching our "stories" and have been depressed that "The Affair," "Homeland" and "The Comeback" have wrapped up. Thank goodness for PBS and the Crowleys so I have something new to distract myself from getting work done.

First the doggie update: Mandy is a good girl and currently taking a nap in my lap as I type this. I can't take the cuteness! I wrote about how she looks like a faun, and apparently my assessment was correct. I was walking her in the West '70's and a woman approached me and asked, "Is that a deer?" Mind you, she didn't say, "Your dog looks like a deer." She literally asked if I was walking a deer. I couldn't quite believe she was asking if I was walking a deer, so I said, "What?" Then she corrected herself. She changed "deer" to "doe." Not since Siegfried and Roy. At home, Sonora continues being the elder stateswoman and has now added diabetes to her list of old biddy issues. We were at first completely overwhelmed/devastated but apparently it's easy to control in dogs and her quality of life will stay the same. Maybe her personality will change a bit and she'll stop being such a cranky-a**, but I don't think so. Sonora is one of the dogs who is so sweet to people when they come in the apartment, but when you get her on a leash, she lunges and snarls at every pet/person who dares to walk on the same block as her. She may be almost 15 years old, but when it comes to pulling desperately on her leash to try to viciously clamp her remaining teeth on someone, she has the energy of a puppy. Yay?

I had Kevin Chamberlin on "Seth Speaks," my SiriusXM show and it was great to see him! I first met him when he was starring in Triumph Of Love opposite Roger Bart. I was supposed to take over as conductor of that show and right when I was about to begin, the show closed. But the three of us will finally get a chance to do a show together because we're all going to be in the Actors Fund Disaster concert in Los Angeles Jan. 25! Kevin lives in L.A. now and stars as Betram, the butler, on the Disney channel show "Jessie." He gets recognized by kids a lot but never experienced what happened on his way to SiriusXM; we're located on 49th St. and 6th Ave., right near Radio City Music Hall. Well, when he was about to enter the building, he heard some kid call out "Bertram!" She asked if he'd pose for a picture and he did, and then another kid came over. Then another. Then many, many more. Turns out, if he wanted to avoid an unruly mob, his timing was awful because he happened to show up right when the Radio City Christmas show let out! So it was basically a never ending clown car of tweens screaming "Bertram!" Kevin and I did The Ritz together on Broadway and he just sent me an amazing video montage of the show which features the amazing Scott Pask set, William Ivey Long costumes, Rosie Perez, Brooks Ashmanskas and me in a full unitard or various stages of undress.

Haven Burton
Haven Burton

I also had Haven Burton on "Seth Speaks." I just saw her in Kinky Boots where she was super funny and sounded great. I'm very happy to say that soon she's going to do her solo show at 54 Below called That's What She Sang. I think the title is hi-larious. Haven played Marianne, one of the female leads in Disaster!, and we were laughing about the time she was late for her entrance to the song "Feelings." She was supposed to enter from stage left, casually walk across the stage and then longingly say "Chad," the name of the guy she's in love with. Well, one night we waited forever onstage for her to come out and she finally did, did her slow walk and said her line. She thought she covered well by her casual gait across the stage, but after the show her friend who was in the audience told her that everyone in the audience was onto her because her heels were super noisy. So, before she entered, the whole crowd heard an extended silence, then frantic heels backstage getting louder and louder and louder running up to the wings and then, upon her entrance, suddenly casual walking. In sound effect language it was: silence... silence... clomp, clomp, Clomp, CLOMP, CLOMP! CLOMP!! CLOMP!!! (enter) Saunter, saunter, saunter, "Chad." Here's the "Obsessed" video I did with her last year. Go see her at 54 Below Jan 11! Tickets at 54Below.com. I also had comedienne Judy Gold on the show who, naturally, talked about her mom. She was telling hilarious stories about doing personal grooming on her mother and told us that her Mom recently had a bout of excessive chin hairs. Judy said it look so much like a beard that she asked her mom what her sermon was going to be that Saturday in synagogue. Brava rabbi reference! If you want more of Judy's hilariousness, visit her website JudyGold.com for upcoming dates and watch the Obsessed I did with her!

On New Year's Day, I took over the Julia Murney tradition that was started 20 years ago. Every New Year's Day, Julia's had an open house in her parents' Upper West Side apartment where she serves pancakes all day long. Well, this year her parents sold their apartment! I didn't want to the tradition to end so I said I would do it in my place. Of course, my apartment can basically only comfortably fit the cast of 700 Sundays (Billy Crystal) so I was a little nervous about doing an open house. Luckily, I mentioned it to Barbara Baekgaard, my friend who created Vera Bradley. She insisted we do it at her place which I had no argument with since her apartment can comfortably fit the cast of Les Miz: and I mean the original cast, 2006 revival and the one currently running. Plus every tour and replacement and non-equity bus and truck.

We wound up having such a great time! I invited some people and they invited others and there was a steady stream of folks coming in and out from 11 AM to 5:30 PM! Lilla Crawford came with her mom and younger sister and I told her how fantastic I thought she is as Little Red Riding Hood in "Into The Woods." I asked Lilla about the moment when James Corden steals her cape because she stands and screams for a very long period of time. I wanted to know if she had to lipsynch the scream. Turns out, she had to do it live and they filmed it over and over again. She told me that by the end she had no voice left. PS - Why in a movie filled with lipsynching did they insist that the one thing not lipsynched should be the one thing that causes vocal damage!?!? I haven't felt that kind rage at injustice since I played keyboards in Kiss Of The Spider Woman on Broadway and there was a song that was really difficult to play called "Bluebloods." It took forever to learn and it was like a Chopin etude. The lyrics to the song were spoken. There was accompaniment, but I repeat; the song was spoken. When Howard McGillin took over the role, I had to re-learn it because the song was transposed up a half step!!!! Why!?!?! There was no singing! Still in a rage.

Lilla Crawford photobombing Juli and Aaron Dai at the New Year's Day party
Lilla Crawford photobombing Juli and Aaron Dai at the New Year's Day party

At the end of the party, I sat down at the piano to see if anyone would sing. Christine Ebersole was in her full winter coat but when I pulled out the Eva Cassidy songbook, I knew it would convince her to stay for a tune. She took off her coat, did a stunning version of "Over The Rainbow," put back on her coat and left! Brava drive-by belting! Anika Larsen hauled out this gem and Saum Eskandani showed everyone his stunning voice. If you've never heard him, watch my Best of 2014 "Obsessed" video here. It features Saum, Keala Settle, Anne Runolfsson, Jessie Mueller, Daniel Radcliffe and Audra McDonald.

Speaking of Audra, I'm going to Ft. Lauderdale this week to do my Broadway @ series at the Parker Playhouse this Thursday night. And then I'm going back to Florida Jan. 17-18 to do my deconstructing show at the Straz Center. Tix and info here.

Speaking of my deconstructing show, I got an email from Kevin Wilson, the great publicist who represented my show in London and he wrote that "BroadwayWorld's number one UK critic" ranked Deconstructing Broadway as one of the top three shows of 2014! It includes all UK shows including the West End and he called it "the single most hilarious and informative show of the year!" I still got it (in overseas venues)! And on that note, have a blimey Happy New Year! (Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)

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