On Sept. 1, "The Q Guide to Broadway," which was penned by the irrepressible Rudetsky, is scheduled to hit stores across the country from Alyson Books. Rudetsky, who has served as a pit pianist and/or conductor for such Broadway shows as 42nd Street, The Full Monty, The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia! and The Producers, recently spoke with Playbill.com about his debut as an author as well as his upcoming projects, which include a star-studded book celebration concert at the Ars Nova and the sixth annual Actors' Fund of America benefit concert, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Playbill.com: How did the book offer to write "The Q Guide to Broadway" come about for you?
Seth Rudetsky: I wrote a book called "Subbing" that is all about a guy who is a sub in every aspect of his life. He's a piano sub on Broadway, and he's dating a guy who has another boyfriend. . . . My book agent was shopping it around, and in his travels he found out that the new editor at Alyson Books was starting a series called "Q Guides." The first three would be "The Q Guide to Soap Operas," "The Q Guide to the 'Golden Girls'" and "The Q Guide to Broadway." My agent brought the editor to my Chatterbox and after a brief schmoozing session, I was asked to write the book. Then my agent decided to push his luck and sent out "Subbing," and Alyson bought that also!
Playbill.com: Tell me about the new book. Who is its target audience?
SR: I tried to make it interesting to people who are slight Broadway aficionados as well as psycho Broadway message board posters! It's divided into 10 chapters all about Broadway. There are also sassy little fillers within it — like quizzes where you can find out the difference between Betty Lynn Buckley and Betty Bob Buckley and what songs to download from iTunes when you don't want to buy the whole CD. (Hint: If you can only afford one song from Side Show, choose "I Will Never Leave You" over "Happy Birthday to You and to You.")
Playbill.com: How does your Broadway guide differ from some of the other guides that are already out there?
SR: Well, I tried to make the book super informative, but also funny — meaning I had to reference not only the "singing" voices of Bea Arthur and Lauren Bacall but Bonnie Franklin as well (the comedy rule of threes). Plus, I've been doing the Chatterbox [the weekly BC/EFA fundraiser at Don't Tell Mama] for six years now, so I've compiled a ton of inside stories that most people don't know, which I've peppered throughout the book.
Playbill.com: When will "The Q Guide to Broadway" be available, and will there be a release party?
SR: It's already on sale at Amazon.com, and by "on sale" I mean literally on sale. They've already discounted the price! Is that a good sign or a bad one? It comes out in stores Sept. 1. There'll be a big book release-celebration at Ars Nova on Sept. 10 at 7 PM. I'm going to read some excerpts, including a message board back-and-forth about lowering the keys in an upcoming revival that's mind-bogglingly hostile! And, I've invited some of the people mentioned in the book to come sing the songs I've written about. Emily Skinner, Anika Larsen and Norm Lewis will do some sassy belting and, just for fun, I'll close the night with a mélange of deconstructions from my video collection. Also, the proceeds will go to the Actors' Fund, so we'll all have a place to live when we get older! Playbill.com: What else is on your agenda?
SR: Well, I'm working on [the Oct. 16 Actors' Fund of America benefit concert of] Whorehouse, my sixth concert for the Actors' Fund, and we're all getting psyched. Plus, on Nov. 5, I'm putting together a show that combines all of my other shows. It's the biggest show I've ever done — inspired by Rhapsody in Seth, Chatterbox and Deconstructing. It's going to be at the Skirball Center at NYU with a full orchestra, chorus and Broadway stars. More info to come!