ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Being "Part of It All"

By Seth Rudetsky
06 Dec 2010

Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Hunter Bell in Broadway's [title of show]
photo by Carol Rosegg

The most thrilling part of the week happened at the Sunday matinee of [title of show] when the real Hunter, Jeff and Heidi came to the show. I was much more nervous than I was for opening night. I was literally shaking! But it was a good audience, thankfully, and I loved performing it in front of them. When Tyler and I got to "Part of It All," which is about being on the "inside" of the Broadway scene, I got so emotional that I was performing it in front of the real Hunter and Jeff that I started to cry. Then, I had to immediately shut down my emotion (which I perfected in my teens) or else I would have sounded pre-steroid. The same thing happened to Tyler a week before. The night that Susan Blackwell came, he was thinking about how he met her when he was a kid. They both knew each other from Ohio where Tyler's mom was Susan's teacher! Susan has actually known Tyler since he was eight. At the end of the show, Tyler was standing onstage and he realized that not only was Susan in the audience but his mom was there, too! Then the character of Susan onstage (Susie Mosher) was singing "I am eight years old in Ohio…" and Tyler had to make a conscious choice not to get emotional and steal all the focus from Susie. Audience: Why is that guy who's not even singing weeping on the side? Let's watch him instead.

Hunter and Jeff were so gracious and complimentary to us. I've been obsessed with this show since it was at NYMF, and it was so unbelievably exciting to be doing it in front of them. Jeff said he had a crazy moment in the audience because he remembered meeting me back in 1994 when I was playing piano for Grease. His friend Tom Schultheis had just joined the show and introduced me to Jeff on the subway. Jeff remembered thinking, "Wow! That's Seth Rudetsky. He plays piano on Broadway" and said it was bizarre that now he was watching me play him. They were both so funny in the talk back after the show. They began by addressing the issue of "Is the show too inside?" Essentially, it's people on in the inside who are always saying the show is too inside. How come no one asks if A Chorus Line is too inside? It's about an audition for a Broadway musical and what it's like growing up as a dancer. Cut! They were talking about how the show was specific and therefore universal. Because they both love Broadway, the opening scene is them talking about theatre. Hunter said that if they instead loved sports, the opening scene would have been them talking about baseball teams. And Jeff specified with, "The Jets!" Brava.

Today and tomorrow I'm hosting Gypsy of the Year, and I'm so looking forward to it! Get thee to BroadwayCares.org for tickets. The opening number features Carol Channing, and I saw the rehearsal of it featuring just the ensemble and I literally got tears in my eyes simply watching them do the back-up for Carol! I can't wait to see it fully realized.

And…I also have new shows coming up. I'm doing Deconstructing Broadway in Provincetown on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day! I'm being sponsored by Cape Air (meaning I'm getting a delicious flight directly to Provincetown) and the White Wind Inn (meaning I'm getting an amazing place to stay the whole week I'm there!). You can get tickets at https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/1861/. Also, I'm starting a new series, which is like my signature talk show but it's combined with This Is Your Life, meaning I interview celebs and show sassy videos but I also bring up their friends/colleagues to tell funny (AKA dishy) stories about them as well! My first one is going to be Monday, Dec. 20 at 7 PM featuring Tony Award winner (and my comedy idol) Andrea Martin! So far I have two of her best friends coming to tell tales: Debra Monk and Victor Garber! You can get tix at http://www.triadnyc.com/ and it's called Seth's Big Fat Broadway Show. And, speaking of Andrea, she's going to be the featured performer in the Chelsea Symphony's Holiday concert this coming Friday, Dec. 10. She's the latest narrator for the fabulous "Night Before Christmas" that Aaron Dai wrote for a full orchestra and sassy narrator. The first year was Richard Kind, then David Hyde Pierce, then Ana Gasteyer, then Charles Busch and now Andrea. It's at 8 PM at the St. Paul's German Church in Chelsea, and more info is at ChelseaSymphony.org. And, on the subject of holiday concerts, let me say that the airwaves are filled with "holiday" songs which are all, of course, Christmas songs. There is a decided lack of Hanukkah songs and what few that exist are always overlooked. Recently, however, I saw a great version of one of the few "festival of lights" songs on Youtube. It was part of a "holiday medley" on a cruise, and though I'm sure even though all of the Christmas ones had a full band backing them up, the Hanukkah one was done completely a cappella. Typical. However, the singer (Amy Toporek) has excellent pitch and such a great voice that she makes it totally work. Listen to how fabulous she sounds! http://sethrudetsky.com/blog/2010/12/06/amy-toporek-sounding-great-for-hanukkah/. And, finally, I was obsessed reading the Michael Musto article in the Village Voice about Jackie Hoffman who's doing her new show at Joe's Pub. She was talking about the dichotomy of being in the critically panned but long-running Addams Family and told everyone, "The Addams Family is the most reviled, hated, loathed, sh**-upon, criticized, financially successful group of people since the Jews." She's still got it! Happy "Holidays," and peace out!




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.)