ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Manatees, Nothing Like a Dame, a Disaster! Injury

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03 Apr 2012

Seth and his mom
Seth and his mom
Photo by Ben Munisteri

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


Greetings from somewhere over Florida. I'm on my way back from Sarasota where I introduced the upcoming season at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center. When I introduce the titles of the show, I do a lot of guessing games with the audience to see if they can figure out what's coming and the Sarasota folks were very knowledgeable. Although, my friend Ben was in the audience and he told me that when I played the classic opening notes from "The Addams Family" TV show, the man next to him nodded and said knowingly to his wife, "The Munsters." I began my foray by flying down to Ft. Lauderdale. My mother and I arrived in Newark airport and I immediately got annoyed with her crazy over-packing. Her choice for Florida's 85-degree weather? Not one, not two, but three coats. Crazy. I've included a photo for proof. Then, her signature bizarre comments started. When I said our flight was at gate C110, she said, "C110? I've never heard of such a gate." Why would she have ever heard of it? Regardless, we had a nice time traveling all over Florida; West Palm (The Kravis Center), Ft. Lauderdale (The Broward) and Sarasota (The Van Wezel).

Three coats!

Before I left for the South, I saw Nothing Like a Dame, the Actors Fund Benefit for the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative. This year there were so many women over 80 who sassed it! Marilyn Maye sounded fabulous as usual and I can't wait to see her at Feinstein's later this month. Here she is at my Sirius/XM Live On Broadway show from last year singing "It's Today" and doing her signature "I'm-over-80-but-I-still-got-it" high kick! Hunter Ryan Herdlicka sang the man's part of "You're Just in Love" and then got Elaine Stritch to sing the duet with him ("You Don't Need Analyzing…."). They sang it four times (I know! But it worked!), and between repeats, she told a story about being on the Upper East Side, demonstrating the staging for the concert number to her friend while standing on the street, having a random shopkeeper come out and yell, "I have the perfect outfit to go with those moves" — and the whole thing ending with Michael Kors giving her the outfit for free because he wanted to support the charity. Then Polly Bergen came out and told everyone that she met Phyllis Newman doing a musical version of "Pride and Prejudice" years ago when they both very young (she's now 83). She then qualified it by saying, "Well, one of us was very young. I was 18 and Phyllis was in her mid-30s." Hi-lar. That would make Phyllis more than 90 years old, which, by the way, reminds me of the fact that when my mom sits in the audience at my Florida shows, it's the only time she feels young.

This week is Passover and it's also the time that I get to star in a big Jewish musical! It's the third annual Everything's Coming Up Moses performance. This year it's at the 92nd Street Y in Tribeca. The show is the story of Passover as told through the songs of Gypsy. Rachel Shukert has written such a brilliant parody and it parallels the story of Mama Rose incredibly closely. Here's part of my big breakdown from the 11-O'clock number, "Moses Turn":

I had a dream…
I dreamed it for you, Jews…
It wasn't for me, Aaron…
And if it wasn't for me, then where would you be?
Dead! In the Red Sea!!!!!!!

Get tix here


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