Well, the big news is, I'm finally putting up a show I've been wanting to write for almost 20 years! Only Make Believe is a great charity that I do benefits for every year and they asked me to do one in May. I decided to use it as an opportunity that would force me to write what I've been talking about since the days when I was playing for Forever Plaid (1993!). Drew Geraci and I have always been obsessed with 1970s disaster movies like "The Poseidon Adventure," "Towering Inferno," "Earthquake," "Airport '77," etc. So, along with my hilarious friend Jack [AUDIO-LEFT]Plotnick, we're writing 1970s Disaster Movie Musical, which not only features all of the disasters that happen in the above mentioned films, but there are also African killer bees (from that "brilliant" movie "The Swarm"). And the score is all amazing 1970s songs. It's being directed and choreographed by Denis Jones, who did a great job on The Actors Fund benefit concert of They're Playing Our Song last summer. In charge of music are Steve Marzullo and Jess Vargas, who have done tons of Actors Fund benefits for me. I'm basing this whole experiment on Charles Busch, who first got a performance date and was then forced to write Vampire Lesbians of Sodom so he'd have something to perform. We picked the date and then wrote the script. So far, it's pretty hilarious. There's a nun, an aging couple, a disaster expert, a diabetic 11-year-old boy and many more characters based on all those '70s classics. It's on May 23. Dena Hammerstein, who runs Only Make Believe, has a son who owns the hip, downtown club called The Box (at 189 Chrystie Street). Though I'm not cool enough to gain admission to it on a normal night, he is graciously allowing us to use it for the show which is perfect because the performance area sort of looks like the inside of a luxury cruise ship! For tickets, call (646) 336-1500.
The good news, weather-wise is that it's warm…ish. We finally started working on our garden in the backyard. We put down new soil, tilled it, put bamboo up on the backyard walls, secured fencing so the dogs don't eat the plants and laid down white gravel to brighten everything up. Now, go back and read the last two sentences and substitute "James" for "we." My job was watching him do it.
This week I'm headed to Florida! I'm in West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, which apparently are very close to each other. First, I will hit the Broward Center and then I perform for two nights at the Kravis Center. I'm bringing my mom with me on the trip. Her obsession on airplanes lately is getting into the First Class bathroom. "Why shouldn't I be allowed in? I'm almost 80!" First of all, what does age have to do with it? Next time, buy a first class ticket. And secondly, does she think the First Class bathroom is extra special with a full bath and bidet? It's the same 2-by-3 box as the one at the back of the plane. She's the Rosa Parks of Continental Airlines, without the valid cause.
Speaking of my mom, this week I'm heading out to Long Island for the seder and I'm prepared for all the old chestnuts we haul out during the Haggadah reading. Every time we get to the name "Nahor" I say, "Who you calling Na-whore?" My sister's friend Mike added a quip that I'm keeping. When he read the section that begins with, "Verily I am a man of 90," he added, "…though I look 60." Brava on biblical Match.com.
Some Hebrews can get a thrill
hauling stones up a sandy hill.
That's perfect for some Hebrews
who don't know they're alive!
Some Hebrews can thrive and bloom
Digging pits for some Pharaoh's tomb.
That's peachy for some Hebrews
For four centuries or five!
Later on I go into:
I had a dream!
A wonderful dream, Aaron.
All about God in a bush that was burning,
That's all it took for the wheels to start turning...
Then, I bring it home with:
Goodbye! To Desert Sinai!
Good riddance to all the rocks that I had to carry,
All the bricks that I had to cart,
All the mummies I had to bury,
Hey, Red Sea! Get ready to part!
Matt Cavenaugh was Pharaoh but I don't think Pharaoh looked like Matt did in jeans. Hubba hubba. He got a big laugh in the stripper number which was re-done to be about three Jews touting the value of a career. Just like you could tell who the true Gypsy fans were from certain laughs, you could tell who the Super Jews were from other laughs. He first lyric was, "You can sing Aleinu, 'til they shout Dayenu!" and it brought down the Shul (AKA 92 Street Y). Bob Morris, who writes for the New York Times and wrote and starred in Assisted Loving, played God. At the very end, when all the Jews have left for the Promised Land, but Moses is on Mt. Nebo, I tell him my dream. "An enormous billboard with a picture of your face and mine. Well, actually, just of mine. Yours was hidden." He's supposed to say, "Naturally." But in rehearsal he wanted to add, "And it'll stay hidden 'til I get the chin done," but he opted out. My favorite line was right after that. "The Billboard said, 'Holy Moses…and his almighty God. Next year…in Jerusalem." L'chaim!
|photo by Joan Marcus|
The follow-up to the follow-up is that now Chip has a weekend house in Connecticut. He and his wife swim for exercise and recently, while they were swimming, they saw a canoe coming towards them. His wife kept saying, "I think it's going to hit us" and the canoe kept getting closer. Finally, it came right up to them, and hit Chip on the head! Chip came up from the water and glared at the guy in the canoe… and it was Alan Menken! Chip was like, "What is going on?" Alan said, "I just got this and I don't know how to steer it." Oy! Too many unathletic Jews in one lake. P.S., I guess now Alan is the one who has to apologize at the next audition.
My Playbill Obsessed! video this week featured Fred Lassen who's worked in the music departments of many Broadway shows, but we first met up back in the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. We recreate two moments from our pit musicians days and I haul out the dance steps. Here it is:
O.K., everyone, next week I'll have plenty of material about Florida, the elderly, Jewish people and all of the above wrapped into one — my mother!
(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.)