ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Post-Tony Reflections, and Now. Here. This.

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Post-Tony Reflections, and Now. Here. This.
A week in the life of actor, radio host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


My summer traveling officially begins this week. Starting Thursday I'll be in Provincetown at The Art House doing my Deconstructing Broadway show which I'm calling Seth's Big Fat Broadway. It sounds new, but it's really just the exact same show with a different title. Just like "Buffy" and "Charmed." This weekend begins my Broadway At The Art House series. First guest: Jackie Hoffman. I went to The Addams Family's theatre to rehearse with her, and her stuff is, as usual, hilarious. She has a song that anyone who rides the subway will identify with. The main part goes "Stop making out in front of me/You trash skank boy and girl/Stop making out in front of me,/You're both gonna make me hurl."

If you missed my Playbill Obsessed! video with her, take [AUDIO-LEFT]a gander! And come see us in P-town

On Monday I flew down to North Carolina to do a master class and my show at Lauren Kennedy's theatre in Raleigh. I had such a great time and the audience was super savvy. They totally knew Eve Plumb's big TV movie in the mid-70's was "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway." Brava '70s knowledge! Because I was in such a travel rush, I didn't have time to write about the Tony Awards last week. First of all, brava for having such a Broadway-themed show, instead of a "Broadway isn't important, so let's bring on the vaguely-related pop/movie stars and let them awkwardly perform" show. Neil Patrick Harris is a great host. I was trying to describe why he's funny, and Christine Pedi said that he's so good at being charmingly wry and sarcastic. That made me remember when I was in an elevator with him and his partner David Burtka, and we were talking about kids. James (my partner) mentioned that he wanted another kid and the subject of in-vitro fertilization came up. I laughed and said it was so crazily expensive and who had thousands of dollars to spend on it?? Neil softly responded/sang: "I do." His honesty was refreshing, hilarious…and devastating.

Sutton Foster in Thoroughly Modern Millie
photo by Joan Marcus

As for the Tony wins, I was so happy for everyone. I was thinking back to when I first heard Sutton Foster on the national tour of Grease and then when she was cast in the ensemble of Thoroughly Modern Millie. I love the story she told me about when she heard she was taking over the title role. It was the day of the first preview and she was in La Jolla, on the phone with her then-boyfriend. She got call waiting and clicked over to the other line to hear Michael Mayer, the director, tell her that she was going to play the lead role instead of her chorus part. She wanted to get all the details, so she immediately clicked to the other line and told her boyfriend she would call him back. Turns out, her boyfriend was totally traumatized waiting for her to call him back because when Sutton found out she had the role she, naturally, started weeping. In other words, all her boyfriend heard during that phone call was Sutton first saying, "Hold on a minute…" …silence…then hysterical sobbing cries as she sputtered, "I'll call you later," click. He was imagining her comforting a dying relative in a hospital, when all the while she was actually getting a costume fitting and stretching her Achilles tendon for the big second-act tap number. P.S., speaking of hospitals, I just saw Now. Here. This. at the Vineyard Theatre. It's a new show by the people who brought you [title of show]. The Vineyard Developmental Lab staging ended June 19. There are so many parts I loved, but I laughed so hard during one part of the section about Hunter Bell and Heidi Blickenstaff's sick grandmothers. It's a moving scene about dealing with the death of a grandparent, but at one point they talk about their respective grandmothers being in bed but unresponsive. Hunter doesn't know whether or not his grandmother can hear what's going on around her and says something like, "We want to know whether she can hear us, but Grandmother isn't telling." They then immediately comment one how that phrase would be an amazing title for a horror movie. Susan intones scarily, "Is she… or isn't she? Grandmother isn't telling." Hilarious…and terrifying.

Norbert Leo Butz on Tony night.
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Back to the Tony Awards. I was also excited for Norbert Leo Butz, who did such a great job with that tour-de-force song from Catch Me If You Can. By the way, usually a person adds a middle name when they join Equity because there's another person with that same name. Not surprisingly, there was not another Norbert Butz when he joined, but he added the Leo because there is another Norbert Butz…his father. And Norbert felt the need to differentiate. They both went by the name Norbert Butz for years until the time Norbert's girlfriend sent him a letter and his father opened it. And by "letter," I mean "explicit letter." And by "opened it" I mean read some and then needed heart medication. And, thus the "Leo" was permanently added.

I was excited for my friend Stephen Oremus, who won the Tony for orchestration and is yet again involved with the hottest show on Broadway. If you recall, back in 2004, he was also the music director for Avenue Q and Wicked. That's like living in the 1970s and getting to date Paul Newman and Robert Redford. What's hilarious to me is that he and Julia Murney still call me "Asssss." Why? It all started because years ago, literally in 2000, I was walking by Cosi on Broadway and 76th. Julia was sitting at an outside table with my friend Gordon Greenberg. Gordon introduced me to her and told me she was an amazing belter (something I later found out to be true). After we chatted for a while, I left and Julia claims I looked at her and slowly said, "Bye, asssssss." She was miffed…and obsessed. She immediately told her good friend Stephen Oremus and that's become my permanent nickname all of these years. Of course, she left out the part that I have a bad diction and I make up nicknames for people based on parts of words. What happened was, I thought Julia was sassy, so I actually said, "Bye, Sass…", but she refuses to give up the nickname I never asked for. And, to this day, whenever I run into to either one of them, I accept their "asssss."

Jack Plotnick

My friend Jack Plotnick was visiting me and we took Juli to the playground. Never again. It was like being the ugly girl forced to stand with Pamela Anderson at a straight man's convention. Those playground kids were all over Jack because they recognized him from "Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure." If you don't know, it's the newest of the "High School Musical" franchise films, and it wound up being the highest-rated Disney movie on the channel. He and Alec Mapa play opposite each other and apparently, according to the 8-10 years olds in the playground, Jack's performance is groundbreaking. They didn't just love him in that movie, they also recognized him from the slew of other kids TV he's done: "Good Luck, Charlie," "Wizards of Waverly Place" and the Trix bunny commercial. I was shocked and mortified that not one of those kids saw me in The Ritz. Hmph. I never missed a performance!

On Sunday, James, Juli and I went out to our signature restaurant in the village that we always go to on Father's Day. The wait for the food was only an hour. Don't get me started. Then we went bowling and here's a good lesson for parents: You know how there are now bumpers for kids when they bowl? It's essentially a wall that comes up and prevents a ball from ever going in the gutter. In my day, we just bowled. Well, Juli asked (and by "asked" I mean "begged") to use the bumpers and we told her she had to try to bowl without them. We said if she went three turns without getting any pins, she could use the bumpers. She complained but tried it without the bumpers, and by the third game she got a spare and a strike! She beat James! That's right! She wanted the easy way and we made her try. That do-it-yourself/pioneer attitude lasted until we got out of Chelsea Piers and I realized we'd have to walk a few blocks to the subway. Who has the energy? Taxi!

On that note, peace out and come visit Provincetown! (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.)

Norbert Leo Butz, Sutton Foster and Mark Rylance
Norbert Leo Butz, Sutton Foster and Mark Rylance Joseph Marzullo/WENN
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