As Tony says in The Most Happy Fella, "I wanna make a beeeg announcement!," and here goes: James and I are renting a small theatre for the entire month of March and we're running four plays that we've written in rep! That's right, we are now entrepreneurs, producers, playwrights, actors and quite possible soon-to-be stage hands.
Let me qualify it all: by "small theatre" I mean a theatre that literally seats 30 people. That means everyone feels like they're in a front row seat. And by four "plays," I mean three plays and one comedy act starring me and the hi-larious Kristine Zbornik. My other play is a caper and it's called The Daring Duo. It stars me ('natch!), John Bolton (see this column for more on him) and David Turner (we worked together on Barry Manilow's Harmony, The Ritz with Rosie Perez and last year he starred in On a Clear Day…). James has two plays he's written: the first one is called Unbroken Circle and it's an old-school family drama with a multi-generational cast including Anika Larsen (Xanadu), Eve Plumb (yes, that Eve Plumb) and Juli (our 12-year-old!). The other one is a two-hander called Art and Science starring two Tony award nominees Tony Sheldon (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and John Tartaglia (Avenue Q and Shrek). Tickets for all four plays (AKA three plays and a comedy act) just went on sale today and you can read about each one right here on the Playbill.com news section.
I am now back in NYC after taking Hollywood by storm. And by "Hollywood," I mean the Hollywood Presbyterian Church where I appeared as a guest star on "Bunheads." The episode (which is the final one of this current season on ABC Family!) features Michelle (Sutton Foster) going to an open call for a musical version of Dark Victory and I'm the pianist who gives her some sassy advice (my first scene) and then delivers some bad news about how the business works (my second scene). In true L.A. fashion, my second scene was filmed first. And in true L.A. fashion, I was either doing nothing for hours or literally had five seconds to get ready and film.
I'll start from the beginning: On Sunday I got to L.A. and had a great get-together with my friend Marco Pennette and his partner Steve Rabiner. Marco and I met at the Jerry Lewis telethon back in the mid-'90s when I was playing for his friend Tia Riebling (Tia was playing Rizzo in Grease when I was the pit pianist). At that time, Marco was about to start filming "Caroline in the City," which he also created. Suffice it to say, we had our get-together in what he called his house but what I call a Beverly Hills manse. He and Steve have three daughters who were sweet but non-plussed to meet me yet went into a state of giddy excitement when Kevin Chamberlin came over. Why? Because he's Bertram on the Disney channel's "Jessie"! Hmph. Don't they remember my five-episode arc as Rudy on "All My Children" 10 years ago? What? No one does? *Silence*
The next day I got to the church (or "location" as we say in the biz) and I found my trailer. I immediately perused the amazing craft service area and ordered an egg white omelet with lots of veggies. And that was the last of my healthy eating. For the next two days, I couldn't resist the crazy amounts of delicious/fattening choices that were available every minute. It culminated on the final day when Amy Sherman Palladino (who created "Gilmore Girls" and "Bunheads") stopped me, pointed to my plate and asked, "Your lunch is simply two giant chocolate chip cookies?" Answer: Yes it was.
Back to the first day; Right after my omelet, I was summoned to the set to rehearse. Even though it was supposedly L.A., it was freezing! Right after rehearsal, the costumer looked at all the clothes I had brought from home and chose black jeans and one of my favorite sweaters, which I wore seven years ago when I played Arnold in Torch Song Trilogy. Thankfully, it still fits (-ish)!
That day's Seth Rudetsky-induced disaster was the fact that I decided to take my gum out of my mouth while practicing lines in my trailer. I then went to the makeup trailer and another actor gasped when he saw me. Turns out, after I took the gum out of my mouth, I put it near my chair and then promptly sat on it. And when I got up, it stre-e-e-etched. That's right, I had embedded gum across both butt cheeks. Off came the pants and the wardrobe department had to put ice on it and slowly pick it off. Sadly, I immediately put them back on and then realized pants need to dry when they've had ice directly applied to them. The result was me walking around for an hour in what felt like a wet diaper. Yay?
At the end of the day, we filmed the first scene where Sutton comes over to my piano and I complain about her choice of material (typecasting?). She then goes to the center of the room and belts up a storm. Turns out, as opposed to most TV shows and films, she always sings completely live on "Bunheads." So great! She gets the accompaniment pre-recorded and then wears a little, tiny earpiece that plays as she films. The drummer and I pre-recorded her audition and she was filmed singing it around five times. Of course, only Sutton can hear the accompaniment while it's filmed so when you watch her perform on set it's actually just her standing in silence and belting up a storm. She did an incredibly physical version of "Maybe This Time" on a previous episode that anyone on TV would have wanted to pre-record but she sings it all live (AKA she's from Broadway, people!) Watch!
This weekend I head to Palm Springs for the Steve Chase Awards (for Desert AIDS) and I'm playing for Jesse Tyler Ferguson who's hosting the entire evening. We went over his material at my apartment and I showed him the brand new paperback version of "My Awesome Awful Popularity Plan," which just came out. The inside cover has various reviews — and my publisher (Random House) also included one from Jesse, who called it "high-larious"! Emmy nominee and book critic. P.S., you can get the new paperback at SethTV.com.
(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.)