ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: The New Headshot, Kennedy Style

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: The New Headshot, Kennedy Style A week in the life of actor, writer, music director and Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky.

Andrea Martin
Andrea Martin

Tonight I'm premiering my new talk show at the Triad! I mentioned last week that it's part Chatterbox and part "This Is Your Life." I'll be interviewing Andrea Martin and then bringing up her friends Debra Monk and Victor Garber to tell fun/dishy stories from her past. I'm also bringing some amazing video of her from SCTV including her Anne Murray holiday special. The whole thing is a bust on Anne Murray's overly mellow singing/masculine appearance. In the sketch, Andrea's wearing an incredibly [AUDIO-LEFT]short haircut and sporting a velour sweat suit while singing an incredibly slow and low-energy tribute to Janis Joplin. At the end, she comes out in a dress and the announcer boasts that she's wearing high heels for the first time on television...and one immediately falls off. I'm also going to have Andrea do one of her numbers from one of her Broadway shows (NOT "The Farmer and the Cowman"). It's at 7 PM and more info is at www.TriadNYC.com.

OK…James has been busting me for years to get a new headshot, but I've been too lazy to get around to it. When was my last one taken, you ask? Five years ago? No. Ten years ago. Um…no. Let's just say, 13 years ago. And by "13" I mean "14." My picture has stayed at ingénue while I've transitioned into wizened sage. The photos of the [title of show] cast were in the lobby of the theatre, and my fellow actors all had to have the theatre staff change their photos to black and white to match mine. Mortifying. It actually reminds me of the first comedy show I wrote with my writing partner Maria Bostick back in the 90's. It was called Dial M for Marjorie and in one scene she's at an audition:

DIRECTOR: Do you have a photo?
MARJORIE: Yes, it's stapled to my resume. It's kind of old.
DIRECTOR: Oh, I see. (Pause then) Wait! Is this your prom picture?
MARJORIE: Yes, it is.
DIRECTOR: (miffed) Who's the guy?
MARJORIE: Oh, don't pay any attention to him. He's my cousin.

The new headshot!
photo by Lauren Kennedy

Well, after the cast repeatedly busted me for a having a photo that screamed mid-90's, Lauren Kennedy told me that she does people's headshots for a hobby. She made me feel better about my aged headshot because she said when she recently did a show on Broadway, one of the actors still used his headshot where he was dressed in a jean jacket. With the collar up. That trumps me by a decade! I decided to take her up on her offer and made plans to meet Tuesday. Well, the morning of the shoot dawned freezing, and Lauren had told me that she likes to take photos on her roof. I was excited that it was so cold out, and I texted her that I assumed we had to cancel because of the weather. Ahh…a perfect reason to not go through with it. I have a total block against getting headshots. I was not looking forward to trying to make my hair look not awful and to find a facial expression that didn't look forced/painful/fake/unflattering and/or pre-face lift. Therefore, I was decidedly not pleased when she wrote back to say that we could do the shoot in her building. Hmph. I arrived and had my friend Jack Plotnick meet us as well so he could help pick out my looks. We finally settled on a few shirts after Jack rejected my favorite red shirt that Betty Buckley got me for my birthday…13 years ago. Who says I live in the past? Answer: The present. Well, turns out I had a great time, and Lauren is a great photog. I have so many fun photos now I can use for publicity shots, and I love the one I'm going to use as my new headshot! Take a gander!

Liz Callaway

A few months ago, my ex-boyfriend Aaron auditioned to be the pianist for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus. It literally involved two interviews and then three auditions where they whittled the pool of pianists down to the final handful. Cut to, he got the gig! I went to see their Winter Concert yesterday, and it was faboo. Of course, Juli was obsessed with the title because it was called "Sing Your Brass Off," and she noticed how the B and R were italicized. She then proceeded to put her hand over the letters to show us what it spelled without the B and R. Hmph. I liked it better when she was having difficulty reading. PS, it had the word "Brass" in the title because a great brass quintet accompanied the chorus along with Aaron and the rhythm section. Besides music, the concert also had sections where people read letters to Santa. They were all very creative. One was read by "Barbie" (the doll), and she complained to Santa that she was tired of being given to girls every Christmas. She didn't want to keep wearing ridiculous outfits like a prom dress. She finally said with Elaine Stritch directness, "I'm 51 years old. I'm sick of the prom." She talked about the sacrifices she made each year, and my favorite one was "constantly changing my career." Brava!

The music in the concert was great, and their conductor, Dr. Charles Beale, did some really creative arrangements. Liz Callaway was the guest singer and was hi-lar as usual. She told the audience that "her life often changes with a phone call or email" and it reminded me of when I called her years ago. I wanted Liz to sing one of the solos in my Actors Fund Hair concert, and I gave her a call. When she picked up I told her it was Seth, and she said, "Oh! Coming to the phone I was thinking 'who the hell is calling me?" I'm obsessed with that comment for various reasons. 1. People think that Liz is a goody-two-shoes because her voice is so sweet, but she's actually a sasstress…and 2. Her comment would make sense if I had been calling in the middle of the night, but it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Why was she thinking, "Who the hell is calling me?" Hilarious crankery! What I also love about her is that I couldn't decide what solo I wanted her to sing, and she was so not a diva about it. She told me she'd learn both solos and sing whichever one I needed. I literally didn't tell her it was "Good Morning Starshine" til the Friday before the concert! Brava on her low maintenance, and what is with my ADD?

Barbra Streisand

At the Gay Men's Chorus concert, she told everyone how she got a last-minute phone call to be Barbra Streisand's stand-in for her last concert tour. She then clarified, "Stand in, not stand by." She went on with "Can you imagine? At this performance, the role of Barbra Streisand will be played by…Liz Callaway." She then added, "Even I'd want my money back!" She said the most amazing thing about doing that gig was singing with a 60-piece orchestra…and getting to use a teleprompter. She mentioned that she's going to ask her sister Ann to get her one for Christmas. She sounded great with the chorus, and I can't wait to see their next concert! For more info, go to NYCGMC.org.

My mom was supposed to come see me last week, but she had to cancel. Why? Because she had a commercial audition. We have the same agent, and she gets sent out more than I do. She gets call backs constantly, but has never booked one. Why, you ask? Well, I asked her to write an essay about all of her experiences, and here is an excerpt.

DQ COMMERCIAL
This was a commercial for Dairy Queen about an older couple celebrating their anniversary. The script referred to the store as "D.Q." I spoke to one of the casting people and said that no one my age would abbreviate it to "D.Q." She told me to follow the script (which, of course, due to memorization problems and hubris, I did not). There was an array of men sitting in the lobby who were auditioning, and the casting director pointed out the one who'd be playing my husband at the audition. She said that we should go over the lines while we waited to be called. I caught his eye…and he glared at me. I then sat next to him while he ignored me/continued to study the script. When I finally started speaking to him, he immediately looked up, cut me off and loudly said, "SHHHHHHH!" I subtly approached the casting director and reported him as being hostile. I told her point blank that I could not work with him. Of course, we were called in together. I snubbed him and stared straight at the camera. He then forgot one of his lines, which happened to be my cue. There was silence when I couldn't think of anything to say… and then I began to laugh hysterically. The director said to both of us, "Thank you." I did not get it. DETERGENT COMMERCIAL
No lines, thank goodness. I was told to take clothes off of a clothesline and then to smell them to show how fresh and wonderfully scented they were. Tried Actor's Studio approach and went back to my childhood when clothes were pulled in through a window that had a clothesline attached to opposite apartment. I slowly kept pulling imaginary line (which I decided should be a long one) with lots of clothes. Then picked up imaginary shirt, put it to nose and smiled happily. I was not told to stop and so continued — rubbed face with it, rubbed arms with it, and finally, looked sexually aroused (or so I thought). I stopped at this point, having run out of faces. Director looked at me with astonishment and said, "Can't you just act like a normal person?" While trying a second time, and in the midst of still pulling, he said, "Thank you." I did not get it.

All right, back to me and what I did last week. I saw Christine Pedi's There's No Bizness like Snow Bizness at the Laurie Beechman Theater. Her imitations are so brilliant. Go to ChristinePedi.com for info about her upcoming shows and watch this brilliant clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk4MDilZMEQ. And, for all of you New Englanders, I'll be doing Deconstructing Broadway on New Year's and New Year's Day at the Art House. https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/1861/ Peace out!

 

 

 

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

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