ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Prepping for "Bunheads," and Celebrating Phantom's 25th on Broadway

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29 Jan 2013

Seth Rudetsky
Seth Rudetsky

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


I am over 20,000 feet in the air on my way to Los Angeles. "Bunheads" is paying for my flight, but I decided to fork over $300 to upgrade to First Class. Why not, I thought? It wasn't that much and I knew it would make the six-hour flight truly memorable. I had amazing visions in my head of breezing through security, boarding before anyone else, sitting in a palatial seat and eating a banquet prepared by a "Top Chef" finalist. Whenever I fly United Economy there aren't any served meals so I always wind up getting out my credit card mid-flight and buying one of the pre-packaged meals to eat. I was really looking forward to having a delicious full-course breakfast served to me.

Here's where it all started to go wrong: My cab driver could not figure out where the United terminal was and finally he dropped me off somewhere that looked like it could be right-ish. There was no curbside check-in (?) so I had to go inside and wait on line to check my bag. After a few minutes, I found out it was only for International flights. Wonderful. I took the escalator down two flights and finally got my bag checked. I was then ready to go to security and bypass everyone by using the delicious First Class line. Well, for some reason, the Economy line was much shorter! I was too scared to leave my place in line so I waited and waited. Finally, I put my carry-on through the scanner, had my entire body radiated while someone looked at a nude image of me, and went to the gate. While I was waiting, I checked online and saw that the flight was not serving breakfast as I had fantasized. They were serving lunch. I rushed to the food court to find something to eat before I boarded and bought a bagel from the only place I could find. Yum…delicious bagel, you think? Let me put it this way, the cashier told me she was giving me a 20 percent discount because the bagel was so stale. Yay. I got to the gate, but it was way past the early boarding I had looked forward to. Instead, I arrived in time for "all rows, all rows please" and there was a long line to get on the plane.

Sutton Foster on "Bunheads."
photo by Adam Taylor

Finally, I sat down in First Class and decided that I would not harp on the lack of a breakfast and instead I would enjoy the luxury I was paying for and order a fattening lunch. There were a lot of choices, but because I'm a vegetarian, my only option was pasta. The flight attendant approached me to take my order and before I could open my mouth, she promptly informed me that they were out of pasta. Yay! SO…I paid for First Class and got to wait in a long line for security, a long line to get on the flight and then had the same rickety-rackety pre-packaged meal I always have when I fly Economy. And I had to pay extra for it! Seriously. When the flight attendant came over with the lunch box, I had to hand over my credit card. I've said it before and I'll say it again: My Personal Shopper Is The Worst!

The week began for me with a great concert given at Off-Broadway's Second Stage. It was dedicated to the launch of contemporarymusicaltheatre.com which is an online collection of songs by new composers. The founders (David Sisco and Lorene Phillips) wanted to have one place where actors could find new music for concert or auditions and the songs are all categorized by type and voice. I think it's a great idea because I cannot tell you the amount of times I've sat behind the piano at auditions and had to play "Not For the Life of Me" and "Gimme, Gimme" as if there have never been songs composed before or after 2002. Speaking of that, I'm about film opposite the very singer of those songs!

Yes, I got my script to "Bunheads," the ABC Family comedy/drama with music and dance, and both of my scenes are with Sutton Foster. I already have a sense of how she's going to perform them because I did the table read last week. No, I didn't fly to California to do it, I did it while sitting on my bed on the Upper West Side. Turns out, the cast of "Bunheads" all sat around a big table and they put me on speakerphone. Sutton told me that my phone sat on the table with my name written next to it. When I first called in, Kelly Bishop got on the phone to say hi in her signature baritone voice. I haven't seen her in years (since she did a Chatterbox with me) but I always feel a kinship with her because I've done many performances of Priscilla Lopez's act (her best friend) and because Kelly and I have the same birthday (Feb. 28!). She warned me that it's really disconcerting to do a table read on speakerphone and it was! If you think I overact with mugging, try listening to me attempt to achieve the same bigness with just my voice. I don't know how much I can reveal about the plot but let me give you these shocking tidbits about my character: I play a pianist and my name is Seth.


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