ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: I Am a TV Network Mogul, Plus a Passion for Patti LuPone

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18 Jun 2012

Seth back at an Oberlin practice room
Seth back at an Oberlin practice room

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


Today is the day! My new TV network — well, my video-packed website — has finally launched. The first episode of "Seth's Reality" is live and you can watch it at SethTV.com. This has been a lo-o-o-o-ong process and I'm celebrating with a big benefit tonight, June 18! So, if you're reading this before 7:30 PM, get tix and come on down to XL to see Not Since High School where my Broadway pals are singing songs from roles they played when they were students. Since last week, I've added Christine Pedi to the mix. She starred in her school production of Godspell…at her all girls Catholic High School. Seriously. She will be singing her version of "God Save the People," which she did up the octave in a soprano straight tone. It was a hit with the nuns. Christine will then give us an example of what other celebs may have sounded like singing Godspell in high school (AKA Bette Davis speak-singing a deadpan, "Oh God…I'm dying).

Last weekend, I went back to Oberlin College for the very first reunion of the conservatory. In other words, instead of having a reunion for a certain graduating year, anyone who had gone to the conservatory could go. I had a great conversation with a woman who graduated before I did… in 1944! On Saturday night, I did a show with fellow alum Judy Kuhn that was so much fun. We were introduced by the current dean, took a bow and I played her first pitch. She then inhaled and started singing the aria "Batti Batti o bel Masetto" from Don Giovanni. After around 6 bars she said "Cut!" and we both stopped abruptly. She laughed and told the audience the show was going to be all Broadway but I forced her to try to trick everyone into thinking it was a serious concert. She revealed that she had sung that aria at her senior recital and hadn't sung it since. She then admitted that it was also the last time she sang anything classical…or in a foreign language. She started the show with a song from Rags, the first Broadway show in which she had a leading role. The score is probably Charles Strouse's most brilliant and she was confident the show would be a hit, despite the troubled tryout period. Judy told everyone that she was so busy during previews she didn't have much time to clean her house. The day after opening night, she decided to finally tidy up. While she was vacuuming, she was watching the news and saw the logo of Rags come on the screen. "Oh, goody," she thought, "they're going to talk about the show!" Well, they did indeed talk about the show, but what they said was "Rags which opened yesterday, will close tomorrow." And that's how she found out she would be playing her first Broadway lead for only four performances. If you've never heard her brilliant singing on the title song, watch my deconstruction!

We also talked about "Pocahontas," the score of which was written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. She knew Stephen because he wrote the lyrics to Rags and he asked her to do a demo of Pocahontas' big song, "Colors of the Wind," which they were going to use to pitch the idea of a Pocahontas movie to Disney. Disney decided to do the film but Stephen told Judy she wouldn't be able to do the part because they would probably use a Native American. Well, they did use a Native American for the speaking voice of Pocahontas, but they wound up using Judy for all the singing. And perhaps Judy will get to do the speaking voice and singing voice if Disney makes an animated version of the life of Golda Meir.


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