PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Seth Rudetsky, Mary Testa and Cast of Off-Broadway's Disaster! Pick Their Favorite 70s Songs
By Michael Gioia
Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick's Disaster! A 1970’s Disaster Movie…Musical officially opened Nov. 4 at St. Luke’s Theatre. In celebration of the show's opening, Rudetsky and members of the cast pick their favorite 70s songs as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.
Directed by Plotnick with choreography by Denis Jones and music direction by Larry Pressgrove, the cast features Sherz Aletaha, Haven Burton, Charity Dawson, John Treacy Egan, Saum Eskandani, Matt Farcher, Tom Riis Farrell, Maggie McDowell, Michele Ragusa, co-creator Rudetsky, Robb Sapp, Jennifer Simard, two-time Tony nominee Mary Testa and Jonah Verdon.
Since the score features 70s hits such as "Hot Stuff," "I Am Woman," "Knock On Wood," "Daybreak," "Signed, Sealed Delivered" and more, Playbill.com reached out to cast members Rudetsky, Testa, Simard and Ragusa via email and asked them to share their favorite 70s tunes and tell us why they made the list.
"Not surprisingly, these are all in Disaster!," Rudetsky said of his picks.
For more information on the musical, visit DisasterMusical.com.
Jennifer Simard: "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" (Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer). Indeed. I tried to teach myself how to belt by listening/singing to these divas over and over and over again.
Jennifer Simard: "I Will Survive" (Gloria Gaynor). In the fourth grade, we had "student of the week," where each kid's "favorites" got listed for all to see. When it came to my week, this was my age appropriate anthem.
Jennifer Simard: "Dream On" (Aerosmith). This will be my hard-rock entry, though there are many. Obsessed with Steven Tyler's falsetto screaming. I love all my high-belting ragers, from him to Robert Plant to Freddie Mercury. When I need to rage it out, these are my guys.
Jennifer Simard: "Peaceful Easy Feeling" (The Eagles). We were driving in the car one day, and this song that reminded me of summers in the backyard growing up comes on the radio, and my husband starts singing along… A) I had no idea he sang B) I fell in love all over again.
Jennifer Simard: "Listen To The Music" (The Doobie Brothers). This song is just joy to me. I made sure it was one of the dance songs at our wedding because my dad and I used to dance to this in our living room. I think it's a perfect dance-out-your-worries-and-woes song. Life's too short, Boo.
Mary Testa: "Deacon Blues" (Steely Dan, The "Aja" album). I didn't listen to a lot of the normal Top 40 in the 70s. My listening was Leon Russell, Joe Cocker and, yes, Steely Dan. "Deacon Blues" — No explanation necessary.
Mary Testa: "Superstar" (written by Leon Russell). One of the saddest songs about longing that I know, and I love me some sad songs.
Mary Testa: Anything from Frank Zappa. Raunchy lyrics, genius music. Enough said.
Mary Testa: "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" album (Joe Cocker). I wanted so badly to be one of his backup singers that I would use a deodorant bottle and sing along. It was a live album, and I always practiced taking applause.
Mary Testa: "Cherchez La Femme" (Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band) Disco! My friend Clifton would show up at my house at around 2 AM with a bottle of champagne, and we would go dancing. This was one of the major songs, I remember.
Michele Ragusa: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (Michael Jackson). This song floods me with memories of roller skating rinks….disco roller skating!! I love the way the song brings in the use of hitting milk bottles, etc., to get that amazing "tingy" sound. "ALL SKATE"!!
Michele Ragusa: "Stairway To Heaven" (Led Zeppelin). This song blew me away the first time I heard it, as it was such an epic journey of a song. I just couldn't get enough of it, and it was the first "hard rock" band that I got into. I remember my mother wondering what the hell I was listening to.
Michele Ragusa: "Superstition" (Stevie Wonder). This was the song that I think made the world really take notice of Stevie. He is a talent beyond compare and this is one of my favorite of MANY that he's done. The jam is everything.
Michele Ragusa: "Tiny Dancer" (Elton John). There's something about this song that just feels like a hug to me. I don't really have a reason why, but it just fills me with warmth and happiness.
Michele Ragusa: "Boogie Wonderland" (Earth, Wind and Fire). I can so clearly recall being given a second-hand, 8-track tape player, and it included two tapes: "The Wiz" and "Best of Earth, Wind and Fire" (very telling about me, isn't it?). It was the first time I ever heard this band, and I lost my mind!! I believe it was also the first time I heard the use of live horns in pop music. I actually love every song on that album, but since I had to pick one - it's this one.
Michele Ragusa: "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Queen). There's no way my list would be complete without Queen. Since my love for theatre started early, hearing a pop band that sounded so symphonic really turned my head. This song has been used in so many formats (including the Muppets), and the storytelling and Freddie Mercury's voice make this a MUST for me.
Seth Rudetsky: "That's the Way I've Always Heard it Should Be" (Carly Simon). Obsessed with the eerie melody and amazingly dark lyrics… Carly Simon sings of married couples and says, "They have their silent noons, tearful nights, angry dawns." Whoa!
Seth Rudetsky: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" (Stevie Wonder). So joyous! And, Stevie Wonder is an enormous ball of talent.
Seth Rudetsky: "Mockingbird" (Carly Simon and James Taylor). Another Carly Simon song, and it's so weird! It's a nursery rhyme (!), and I love how the whole first time through Carly Simon is on the melody, and James Taylor sings the mockingbird-type echo. And then it all switches the second time through! It's like "Money, Money" from Cabaret!
Seth Rudetsky: "Hot Stuff" (Donna Summer). It's pure '70s. Great hook, great belting, and it makes you want to get dressed up and have fun (that's why it's our opening number)!
Seth Rudetsky: "Ben" (Michael Jackson). It's a beautiful song… I love how the second verse is the same melody, but it's suddenly minor. I also love/am devastated by the lyrics, which are so loving but you know the relationship is not going to work out. And, my favorite Michael Jackson voice is from when he was a kid — so belty and so musical!
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