ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Having Faith in Prince and Celebrating the Genius of Gene Kelly

By Seth Rudetsky
23 Jul 2012



Also on "Seth Speaks" was Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly's third wife and now the trustee of his estate. She tours around the country showing people his genius, screening clips of his films and sharing information about his artistic choices. This summer would be his 100th birthday and she's trying to show people how relevant he still is and what an innovator he was. I went to see her lecture/dem at Lincoln Center Friday night and it was amazing. Because Gene was such a wonderful performer people forget that he was also a brilliant choreographer and director. I always hear dancers speak of Jack Cole and Bob Fosse as geniuses of modern theatre dance, but Gene is rarely mentioned. However, when you watch his film clips, you see what a trailblazer he was in American dance. While Fred Astaire continued the European style of dance, Gene wanted to develop one that was distinctly American and athletic. I'm also obsessed with how so many of his big musical numbers were done with barely any camera cuts. In other words, he'd dance continually, like in a Broadway show. Speaking of innovating, look at his amazing roller-skating combined with tap dancing!

 

Patricia told us that when he filmed "On the Town" they were on location in New York and tried to avoid the mobs of fans eager for Frank Sinatra. Gene, Frank and Jules Munshin would travel to and from each locale (filming without a permit, by the way) and make Frank lay down in the back seat so he wasn't seen. It wasn't until they did the last section of "New York, New York" at Rockefeller Center that people figured out who was there and, if you watch the number, you can see an enormous crowd gathering above the three stars.

I did a show with Shoshana Bean last week and someone in the audience told her how he impressed he was that she didn't take one sip of water. She revealed that she challenges herself, hydration-wise, at every show because a while back someone told her how cool it was that she sang five songs in a row without water. Now, she tries to see if she can go a whole show without water. I don't exactly understand why she needs to build that stamina, unless she's preparing herself for The Mojave Circuit.

Seth Rudetsky

I recently heard from my agents about two auditions. The first was for a Sandra Bullock film. Yay! I then found out my character was in one scene and was named "Choking Victim." Even though I wanted to do it just to see what the audition would consist of, I passed. Then I was asked to audition for a Martin Scorsese film. I said yes! I was also told it was starring Leonardo Decaprio. I reiterated yes! Then I was told there was an orgy and nude scene. Silence. I read the script and decided the nudity was "tasteful"…and went in! The film takes place during the '80s Wall Street boom and I was auditioning for the role of a butler to a big financier. I decided to wear my red button down shirt that I love to wear because it's so comfy and I think it looks great on me. Well, I did the audition (no nudity…yet) and the casting director was very nice. And, at the end of the audition she complimented my shirt. Yay! However, she should have stopped after the first sentence. This was the conversation:

HER: I love your shirt!
ME: Thank you!
HER: It's perfect. So-o-o-o-o-o '80s.
ME: Mortification

Tonight (July 23) I'm yet again hosting and music directing the New York Civil Liberties Union benefit at the Skirball Center. It's chock-full of Broadway folk and you can get tickets at NYCLU.org/Bway. And on that note, peace out!

(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.)