ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Saving Cats (Not the Musical), Plus Craig Bierko

By Seth Rudetsky
14 Nov 2011

Craig Bierko
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

My guest on "Seth Speaks" was Craig Bierko, who is starring in Standing On Ceremony alongside a ton of great actors. He talked about how nervous he was to do the recent concert of Company because it would only be a two-week rehearsal period. But then he thought about his high school choir teacher, Mr. Trautwein. Mr. Trautwein was very influential to Craig, especially his expression, "We Go On" (pre-dating Tim Gunn's "Make It Work"). Craig decided to do Company as a tribute to Mr. Trautwein, who had recently died. After the concert, he made sure to go up to Stephen Sondheim and tell him why he did the concert and Sondheim said, "We all have a Mr. Trautwein in our lives." Craig knew Mr. Trautwein would have loved the fact that Sondheim actually spoke his name. But, following that touching story, Craig and I were laughing about his role. He played Peter, a part no one necessarily knows right away (he's the character married to Susan and they're getting divorced). To prove that it wasn't a well-known role, Craig would tell people that he was doing Company and then make up the name of the character he was playing (usually "Glen"). They would vaguely smile and nod. Then he would correct himself and say he was actually playing Peter. Literally same reaction.

I, of course, had to mention the big career choice he made back in the '90s. He was offered the role of Chandler on "Friends" and turned it down. He was offered two different sitcoms at the same time and decided to go with the other one. What's interesting is that Matthew Perry is one of his close friends, and when Craig auditioned for Chandler, he was actually doing a Matthew Perry imitation! We also talked about Craig's online talk show called "Bathing With Bierko." He hates the fake intimacy of talk shows and also doesn't understand why every talk show host has a desk. He doesn't understand why it's so universally accepted. He asked, "What in their line of work necessitates them having a desk? What do they need it for?" Thankfully, I sit behind a piano during "Seth Speaks." We ended my segment by playing "Celebrity," which I always do with my guests. But before we began, Craig told me that he hates games. I still forced him to play and his answers were all passive/aggressive and hilarious. The first person I had to describe was Nancy Grace. I said, "She's on CNN! She's blonde! She's hostile!" He responded, "Kristin Chenoweth"? And I'm out.

Last week on "Seth Speaks," I had Sarah Silverman and I wrote about how she knew the lyrics to tons of Broadway songs. Turns out, there was a video made of her singing all these songs with me and it got onto The Huffington Post, The New York Times online and Perez Hilton! Take a look

Speaking of videos, I have a new Playbill "Obsessed!" video up. It's me and Melissa Errico. She recreates one of the most amazing onstage body mic mishaps from High Society. Watch!

Tonight, Nov. 14, I'm performing at the Shubert Theatre for Only Make Believe, a great organization that brings theatre to hospitalized children. It's going to be hosted by Brad Oscar and Brooke Shields and feature Daniel Radcliffe, Chris Meloni, Forbidden Broadway, Memphis, Nikki James and more! Go to www.OnlyMakeBelieve.org for details. 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.)