ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Walk with Andy and Zeth

Seth Rudetsky   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: A Walk with Andy and Zeth
A week in the life of actor, writer and music director Seth Rudetsky.

Seth Rudetsky
Seth Rudetsky Lauren Kennedy

I've had a birthday party pretty much every year since I can remember. When I was a kid on Long Island, I had the requisite bowling parties every year. And, PS, we actually bowled. What the H is with the bumpers at bowling alleys now for kids? Have you seen them? It's literally two walls that come up and block the ball from going in the gutter! How will anyone ever learn how to bowl if they don't have the fear of the humiliation that comes from getting non-stop gutter balls? Are kids not allowed to fail at anything these days? I trace it all back to "Family Feud," where every answer, no [AUDIO-LEFT]matter how completely moronic, gets a rousing "Good Answer! Good answer!" from the team that's playing. When did that supportive catch phrase completely lose its meaning? Why attach an adjective to it at all since it's inaccurate anyway? Why not just chant the noun by itself; "____ answer! ___answer"!

Anyhoo, when I got to high school, I put my b-day parties on hold since I've found that it's hard to find kids to come to your party when you're terrified of most of them. Then in college, my parties resumed, and I've had pretty much had one every year of my adult life. Cut to this year; I started asking people to come to a party that would be held on the Saturday after my birthday, and almost every single person was not going to be in New York for the weekend! Didn't they get my "save the date" email that I never actually sent? I guess that's what I get for inviting people to a party five days before an event. I finally sent a cancellation email saying, "I haven't seen this many people leave town at one time since the final scene in Fiddler on the Roof."

Instead of the party on Saturday, I had a mini-rehearsal with Audra McDonald because I'm playing for her next weekend in Palm Desert at a fundraiser for Desert AIDS (www.DesertAIDS.com). She decided to sing the great song, "Some Days" by Steve Marzullo, which I've played for her before (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsKxp14xyb8) so our "rehearsal" was just us chatting in my apartment. Then James, Juli, Audra's daughter Zoe and I hooked up with Andrea Burns and her son Hudson, and we saw "Rangoo." The movie was thoroughly enjoyable. The animation is amazing, plus there were some hilarious throw-away lines. At one point, the lizard voiced by Johnny Depp is asked his name, and he goes into a long diatribe about all the different names he has. He literally mentions his CB handle and says that he's one of the few men who have a maiden name. Hi-larious!

Audra McDonald
photo by Michael Wilson

Speaking of Audra, I noticed that she had a 'Droid. I told her that I just got rid of mine. Its battery charge lasted around three hours!! Three hours may seem long when you see Les Miz (it certainly did playing keyboard two in the pit), but it's not when your phone shuts itself off at one in the afternoon from lack of power! Every time I would complain to the store, I'd get answers like "Well, battery life depends what you use your phone for." What does that mean? What do they think I use it for? I use it for calling people, texting and emailing. I'm not using it to power a jet! Finally, I sucked it up and bought an iPhone. Turns out, I love it! Plus, I happened to not charge it one night, and it worked the next day! Delicious! Anyhoo, Audra has a 'Droid because she joined Verizon right before the iPhone came out. She was using AT&T, but it all went horribly wrong when she went to Toronto to visit her boyfriend, Will Swenson, who was starring there in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. While she was there, she sent a few emails and downloaded a map to find the nearest Kinko's. AT&T then suspended her account! Why? Because she racked up a high bill for all of her international data usage. Again, let me reiterate it was a few emails and a downloaded map. What was the bill? $12,000! Yes! Twelve thousand dollars! They wouldn't back down from the charge so she switched to Verizon. Of course, then they were willing to reduce the charge. Too late! Audra and I were talking about her role on "Private Practice" and, turns out, some people don't realize it's a role. She said that she'll often meet fans of the show who will berate her for her behavior. She posted a little reminder on her Twitter that when people meet her, they're meeting Audra, not Dr. Naomi Bennett. Recently, some woman at a gas station yelled at her, "How could you kiss him like that!" I laughed at the woman's lack of reality…but followed it by asking Audra why she made Coalhouse come to New Rochelle so many times before she came down from the attic? Why such a prima donna? Still waiting for a satisfactory response.

Dev Janki

I'm loving being back on the Upper West Side, and on a recent Sunday Morning I ran into my good friend Dev Janki. While we were chatting, an older woman walked by, said something to Dev, he said a friendly "Hi" to her but then looked at me with an embarrassed face. I didn't know why he was so red-faced, and it was because he thought I heard what she said, which I didn't. I asked him what I missed and turns out, she's one of the women that he's been taking yoga from for years. For some reason, she thinks his name is Andy. I don't know how Dev sounds like Andy, but that's his name according to her, and he's stopped correcting her at this point. He was mortified because he thought I watched him give a huge smile and wave back to her when she greeted him with "Hi, Andy!" The only event in my life I can relate this to is when composer Michael John LaChiusa used to think my name was Zeth. He finally corrected himself, but it never bothered me that much because at least three of the letters were correct. But how did "Dev" become "Andy"? It's not even the correct amount of syllables. And what's going to happen when she eventually finds out the truth? Speaking of wrong names, I remember when I saw the original Song and Dance on Broadway with my friend, Ben Munisteri. We were obsessed with Cynthia Onrubia because she had an amazing alto harmony line during the group version of "Unexpected Song," and it was literally louder than the melody. Ben (who is a dancer) wanted to give her a shout-out during the curtain call for her fierce moves, and I wanted to comment on the fact that her sassy belt made her harmony louder than the melody. So, when she bowed I yelled out, "Sing loud!" and Ben, who had never heard of her before, thought I was screaming her name, but didn't quite hear me, so he applauded and screamed "Ching L'ow!" Mortifying.

Here's my latest deconstruction for Sony. This is the finale from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, the show I did when I was 13 at Usdan Performing Arts Summer Camp. Why do a standard musical, when you and 30 tweens can do a musical revue that's supposed to star four middle-aged singers? Appropriate!

(Seth Rudetsky has played piano in the pits of many Broadway shows including Ragtime, Grease and The Phantom of the Opera. He was the artistic producer/conductor for the first five Actors Fund concerts including Dreamgirls and Hair, which were both recorded. As a performer, he appeared on Broadway in The Ritz and on TV in "All My Children," "Law and Order C.I." and on MTV's "Made" and "Legally Blonde: The Search for the Next Elle Woods." He has written the books "The Q Guide to Broadway" and "Broadway Nights," which was recorded as an audio book on Audible.com. He is currently the afternoon Broadway host on Sirius/XM radio and tours the country doing his comedy show, "Deconstructing Broadway." He can be contacted at his website SethRudetsky.com, where he has posted many video deconstructions.)

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