ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Being "Part of It All"

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06 Dec 2010

Seth opens his shirt
Seth opens his shirt
Photo by Lauren Kennedy

A week in the life of actor, writer, music director and Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky.

OK…When I told my trainer I was about to open in [title of show] (where I open my shirt), he asked me if I wanted to take fat burners for the final stretch. I asked him what was in them and he shrugged and said, "I don't know." And, I'm out. However, ironically, for all my fear of fat burners, I've now gone on steroids. Not to improve my rack, but because my voice was clanking! At the beginning of last week, I began to feel like I did when I played Keyboard Two for [AUDIO-LEFT]Les Miz (incredibly sleepy), and I didn't know if it was because I went to bed late or because I was sick. Well, cut to Wednesday night: I'm in the middle of singing the opening number, and my voice decided not to make an appearance. It kept going in and out and finally, at the end of "Part of It All" when Tyler Maynard is on a crazy high sustained A and B flat, I "supported" him by not only hitting my F in a pathetically weak head voice, but by having to breath three (3!) times while he was holding the note. Devastating. I was relieved that after that, the only big exposed section I had to sing was in the finale. However, my relief was short-lived because a few songs later, Tyler started singing "Lots of things are happening after the festival," and I realized I had to then echo him on those same high notes. So within those eight words he sang, Lauren Kennedy and I were able to have an under-the-breath conversation in front of the audience.

SETH: (Whispered) Oh my God! I forgot I have to sing this!
LAUREN: (though side of mouth) Do you want me to sing it instead?
SETH: (hitting high note on a hum and then nodding) No. I think I have it.

Magically, I was able to hit it. But I knew my voice was on its last cord. The next day I had a meeting with the Actors Fund to discuss an upcoming concert that I can't yet discuss, but suffice it to say, will be AMAZING. I told Joe Benincasa (the head of the Fund) that my voice went on vacation, and he immediately called the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and told them to make me an appointment. I, of course, thought I was getting amazing special treatment but turns out, all you have to do is be involved in any aspect of the entertainment field and you can get seen. Delicious. I went in, was seen by the doctor right away and he told me I had a virus, AKA, antibiotics won't help. He said he would normally tell someone to just wait it out, but because I had to sing, he prescribed me prednisone. Well, the stage manager just told me I sound back to normal. YAY drugs! Now I know why my parents took me to see Hair as my first Broadway show. Speaking of Lauren Kennedy, watch the newest video I just made with her! http://www.playbill.com/multimedia/video/4447.html

Seth with Paul Castree and Richard Roland
photo by Lauren Kennedy

This week my friend Richard Roland came to the show with Paul Castree. We drove together and were reminiscing over our various shared stories. My favorite is when Richard was at Don't Tell Mama and was passing by a guy he had a crush on. He was so nervous that he mentally prepared what he would say if the guy spoke to him. Unfortunately, there was no room for variation in Richard's head, so the conversation went like this-

CUTE GUY (walking by): Hi, Richard.
RICHARD: (as prepared, with crazy fake smile) Fine.

It reminded us of when our mutual Forever Plaid friend, David Benoit, was getting off the phone and was looking at his appointment book at the same time. He made a mental note to himself that he had an appointment at three that afternoon. This is what the conversation should have sounded like:

DAVID'S FRIEND: Talk to you later.
DAVID: (sing-song) Bye-e-e!!
But this is what came out:
DAVID'S FRIEND: Talk to you later.
DAVID: Three-ee-ee!

And, finally, my favorite. A great actress I know, let's call her Simcha, was in Orso's. She's slightly self-involved and was walking through the restaurant still in full stage make-up because she had just come from playing her role in a big hit. My friends were at a table as "Simcha" walked by, and this is what they said happened.

MY FRIENDS: Hi there, Simcha.
SIMCHA: (Smiling, but not making eye contact) Thank you…

I started last week at Ann Harada's hilariously written/performed Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve. She began (as her character from Avenue Q) by telling us that her Christmas wish was to sing songs with Broadway leading men. She went on to remind us the plot of Dallas when Bobby Ewing died but suddenly turned up in the shower a year later and the whole previous season was explained as a "bad dream." She then remarked that some of us might remember she did a show last year where her dream was to sing with Broadway leading men, and some songs and jokes featured tonight might be exactly the same. She then told us that whenever we felt that way we should remind ourselves it was all a "bad dream." The show, however, seemed completely new to me, and I was amazed that she was able to keep the comedy so consistent throughout the dialogue and the songs. I had so many favorite moments. For the first song, Jose Llana came out shirtless, "as instructed by the stage manager." Ann informed him that he was without a shirt because she wanted to sing a duet from Wicked as Fiyero. Jose told her that he saw the original cast, and Fiyero always had his shirt on. Ann remarked, "Perhaps that's why he didn't win the Tony." Good point. She also brought out Willy Falk, the original Chris from Miss Saigon. I'm obsessed with her spin on the lyrics from "The Last Night Of the World." That's the love song that Chris, an American GI, sings with Kim, the Vietnamese "dancer." The lyric goes "On the other side of the earth, there's a place where life still has worth, I will take you…" and then Kim sweetly sings, "I'll go with you." Of course, Ann hilariously played the real situation of the song, AKA Kim doesn't want to stay in horrible war-torn Vietnam. So when he sang, "I will take you," her simple melody was instead the sound of her yelling, "I'll go with you!!!" It was such a brava.

Ann Harada and Jose Llana
photo by Krissie Fullerton


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