NewsONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Seth Is On Demand as Andrea Martin Opens a New Window
July 02, 2012
A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.
Can you believe it's July? And what beautiful weather! I love walking two blocks from my apartment to the subway and having my skin age ten years. Wonderful.
Anyhoo, this was a big week for www.SethTV.com (my new television network on the internet). The news that almost made me pass out is I made the "Things We Love Must List" in Entertainment Weekly! There's a pic of me they somehow lifted from my reality show and a delicious plug for the network. Of course, I'm mortified that my mug is on the same page as Matt LeBlanc, who's stunning, but I decided to think of myself as his wacky neighbor he sometimes dates.
On a side note, I know that a lot of people don't understand what the H SethTV is. My Dad called me and said, "So, first I go to YouTube…" No. Then my trainer at the gym said, "So…the shows just play all day long?" No. Oddly, my therapist is the one who actually understands the concept and told me to tell people, "It's like On Demand." Exactly! You can watch what you want, when you want. I thanked her and, not surprisingly, she looked at the clock and said, "We have to stop now." Typical.
Anyhoo, it's a website with tons of free stuff (like all my deconstruction videos), and if you pay $5 a month, you get the first season of my new reality show and fabulous specialty programming. The first special we have is a full "MirandaSings" concert. If you don't know who that is, it's a character played by Colleen Ballinger based on young girls who post videos of themselves singing and think they're amazing. She's become a true "YouTube sensation" which, by the way, is a term that's completely overused, like "Diva." When did Shania Twain become a "Diva"? When VH-1 needed another singer for "Divas Live." Anyhoo, MirandaSings' online videos have hundreds of thousands of views and recently she did a hilarious concert at Birdland. I was the pianist, and Adam Pascal was the guest star. Here is the part of the concert where she and Adam did the "Light My Candle" duet from Rent, and there are so many moments I'm obsessed with. First of all, her version of shivering ("You're shivering!") is akin to a seizure. Secondly, watch the moment when Miranda asks Adam who she reminds him of. He made up that joke on the spot, and it totally shocked both Miranda and me. So funny! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xy7fjmhj1I. A new Chatterbox is uploaded every week on SethTV as well. So far we have full hour interviews with Judy Kaye, Laura Osnes and Leslie Uggams. Here's a preview of the Leslie Uggams episode with her explanation of what really happened when she famously sang wrong lyrics for 98% of "June Is Bustin' Out All Over."
This week I saw Peter and the Starcatcher and loved, loved, loved the theatricality. It makes me so happy to see an audience break into laughter and applaud for something as simple as an actor wearing a rubber glove and flapping around like a bird. Or Celia Keenan-Bolger "flying" by being on a board that tilts upwards. I tried to analyze why audience reaction is so extreme to things like that, and I think it's because people appreciate cleverness on a very deep level. And they identify with the people onstage. Meaning they think, "Wow! Someone just like me achieved a really cool special effect by being smart!" and it makes them feel connected to the people onstage and the people around them. As opposed to them appreciating technology, which makes them think, "Wow. A computer and/or machine just did a special effect. Cool, but I'm not that surprised. Machines can do anything." To me, the reaction the audience had at Peter and the Starcatcher is the essence of theatre. There's nothing like seeing people in the flesh doing something magical, right in front of you. Go see the show! On Seth Speaks this week, I interviewed Marissa Jaret Winokur, who just started Season Two of "Retired at 35" as the daughter of Jessica Walter and George Segal. She told us that doing Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl last year reminded her how much she wanted to be an actress instead of what she was turning into: a TV personality. In the past, she wouldn't memorize lines for TV auditions because other actors told her it looked needy, but she decided she was needy and was going to try as hard as possible to get the "Retired at 35" gig. She's most proud that the character breakdown was simply for a woman under the age of 40. AKA, anybody. The people running the show told her that as soon as she walked in, they knew she was perfect. Of course, that theory has some holes in it since they made her come back eight times. Regardless, watch it on TV Land and check out the picture on the side where I use her extensions to give her a "Heil."
Andrea Martin is almost finished redecorating our apartment. She's completely transformed it, and whenever people come over they think we bought tons of new stuff when the reality is we just bought a few things, cleared things away (AKA, Andrea threw them out), and rearranged the rest. She also could not be working harder on it, simply to help us. I've never seen someone run around town more. She's constantly texting me from some home furnishings store. She transported a new rug from ABC Carpet, laid it out in our living room, and let us keep it for a few days to decide whether we liked it. Finally we said no, so she took it back for us and picked out three rugs from Pottery Barn! We brought them back to our apartment, she laid them out and we all chose one. After another day, we decided it wasn't 100% perfect, so we returned them, and she got another one from all the way downtown from ABC Carpet. This one looks amazing and brightens up the whole room. PS, she's been doing all of this while recuperating from her sickness that made her cancel her 54 Below performance. She has an insane amount of energy. And OCD. She had a breakdown that our windows looked dirty, so she hauled herself up on the ledge in our bedroom and started cleaning. And, she did the outside as well by climbing onto the storage unit in the backyard, keeping one hand on the window gates and spraying window cleaner and wiping. You must look at the pictures. We're most obsessed with the fact that her "cleaning outfit" is a pure white dress. Excellent for not showing dirt. PS, she could not be funnier. We were out to eat at a fairly sleazy diner, and as she looked around the room, she surreptitiously pointed to the various waiters and asked, "Why is that it every waiter has a lovely selection of herpes above their lips?"
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for 54 Below
Speaking of 54 Below (the new nightclub underneath Studio 54), I went back to see Brian d'Arcy James do his show. It was so good. His music choices were great, and he did them with Clarke Thorell and Haven Burton singing back-up while accompanied by a huge band. And, everything had a great arrangement/piano playing from music director/composer Dan Lipton. I was most impressed that Brian's "patter" was the most unscripted I've ever heard. I always get a little uncomfortable when I hear people do material between songs that I know they've been doing "off the cuff" for the last two years, but he really seemed like he was making it up on the spot. He talked about being on his high school's basketball team (!) and having to make Sophie's Choice: there was going to "the" game against his Catholic school's arch rival… or a Billy Joel concert in nearby Ann Arbor. He was completely 100% obsessed with Billy Joel and didn't know what to do until his normally follow-the-rules parents told him that they'd back him up if he said there was a "family emergency" that night that prevented him from going to the game. He skipped the game, saw the concert and was blown away. Of course, the coach then found out his family emergency was less emergency and more two hours of non-stop songs like "Movin' Out" and "She's Always A Woman." Sadly, Brian was benched for the rest of the season. But, he said, that concert laid the groundwork for his first New York City act 30 years later, and indeed it did, because almost the whole thing was Billy Joel songs! I didn’t know many of them, but they were all so good, and I thought, "There should be a Billy Joel musical." Not to brag, but I'm obviously a psychic whose specialty is reading thoughts that happened ten years ago to Twyla Tharp.
Brian spoke about all the time it took to get into make-up when he played Shrek and how all the members of the cast made him mix-tapes so he'd have something to listen to while he went through the process. I made a hilarious Obsessed video with him where he talks about getting out of the make-up and an annoying women who watched the process one day. Watch!
On Tuesday I go to Provincetown! I'm doing my 70s Variety Deconstructing Show (focusing heavily on the "Brady Bunch Variety Hour") and then on Wednesday I start Patti LuPone's show. All three shows sold-out last week, so we just added a fourth! I have amazing people booked there all summer: Patti, then Faith Prince, Mario Cantone, Marilyn Maye, Betty Buckley, Charles Busch, Megan Mullally, Judy Kuhn and Alice Ripley! Get tickets for my show and all the Broadway series here: www.PtownArtHouse.com. Speaking of Charles Busch, I just did an Obsessed video with him. I'm such a fan.
OK. I have to go ASAP. Why? Because Andrea Martin is standing in back of me and wants us to return the pillows we just got from Gracious Home and get another set in green. Couldn't be more excited!
(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)