Ann Harada and Judy Kuhn Sing a Chess Duet and Other Highlights From Seth Rudetsky's Week

Seth Rudetsky   Ann Harada and Judy Kuhn Sing a Chess Duet and Other Highlights From Seth Rudetsky's Week
Plus, happy birthday Betty Buckley!
Concert_for_America_2017_Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley host Concert for America, photo by Jenny Anderson_HR.jpg
Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley Jenny Anderson

This is a week of some crazy travel! I’m flying home from Provincetown today, then leave for Seattle Tuesday, and then board a cruise to Alaska on Friday. It’s a little headache-y but exciting! Last Sunday, James, Juli, and I flew home after the Concert For America in San Francisco. Our plane was late, so we landed at 2 a.m. and got home at 3 a.m. The next morning, Juli began her summer internship. Where? Why, at Playbill! Her first assignment is art related: Here’s some of her latest drawings of Tony Award winners. Of course, when she was at lunch she got “bored” and drew herself. Brava!


That night, we headed to Judy Kuhn’s apartment to do a fundraiser for Letitia James, who is NYC’s public advocate. We love her because she really follows through. As you know, James and I are involved with foster care and were horrified by many practices at the Administration for Children’s Services. Well, Letitia wasn’t happy either and she filed a lawsuit against ACS. #Werk!

Anyhoo, the fundraiser was a salon, meaning people paid an entrance fee and mingled with each other for a while. Then they gathered in the living room for a casual but fabulous concert hosted/music directed by me and featuring some amazing performers! We had Beth Malone, Ann Harada, Lillias White, Brenda Braxton and, of course, Judy Kuhn. One of the highlights was the duet between Ann and Judy. I suggested they do “I Know Him So Well” from Chess, which Judy starred in. Ann got there early and when she and Judy forgot some lyrics, Judy decided they should use the music. Well, the only music she had was her original score that she used on Broadway in 1988! Ann and I were both reverent, looking at those yellowed pages. Not since the Shroud of Turin. When she and Judy actually performed it together during the show, Ann did what any Chess super fan would do: She started crying! I completely identified. Ann was in shock mixed with a state of happiness/awe that she was singing across from the woman whose voice she listened to on the original cast recording for so many years.

Speaking of Ann and that song: Yes, it’s a duet, but Ann used to sing it at auditions. Still as a duet. Both parts and both characters. Hence, she says, she “never got cast.” Here she is recreating it:

Beth brought down the house doing “Ring of Keys” and “An Old-Fashioned Love Story” from Wild Party. Here she is doing “Ring of Keys” at our February Concert For America.

Lillias did her signature “Don’t Rain On My Parade” and my new favorite Lillias song, “Those Hands.” I just found this version and usually she ends on an Eb. Which she does…but she approaches it from above, meaning a G!

Judy did “I Said No,” the novelty song I’ve always loved from her first album; Ann and Beth dueted on Avenue Q’s “The More You Ruv Someone”; and Brenda brilliantly worked the room with “I’m A Woman.” Plus Brenda did this wonderful song where the lyrics keep singing about how wonderful everything was and between verses she talked about first starting out in the business, having no money, but loving it. At one point she told us that she was living with the “love of her life”—and his brother. Yay? And she said the apartment was incredibly small and they could either have a piano or a bed. So they combined it! They kept the piano and moved the mattress underneath. Sounds horrible, but Brenda said it was an amazing time. Don’t forget her new wonderful book: The Little Black Book to Backstage Etiquette!

As for this week, July 6 is not only our Seattle Concert for America with Megan Hitly, Kerry Butler, Melissa Manchester, Sierra Boggess, and native Seattle stars, but I’m also very excited that Maureen McGovern is joining us. When I interviewed her a few years ago, she told me that after her first big hit “The Morning After,” she suddenly found herself flat broke. She wound up taking a job as a secretary but she knew she couldn’t answer the phone, “Hello, Maureen McGovern!” I joked and said, “What did you say? ‘Hello, Maureen Schwartz’?” and turns out, I was half right. She would call herself “Glenda Schwartz”! I should have been a (half) spy.

P.S. July 6 is not only the concert but it’s also James’ birthday! As a present to him, watch our livestream! Either at or on the Facebook page: Next month our concert is in Atlanta and those tickets are also on sale on our website.

Speaking of birthdays, today is Betty Buckley’s. Let’s watch some of her brilliance. Firs,t her incredible performances on The Tonight Show:

And then a deconstruction of her in The Mystery of Edwin Drood….the reading!

And here's one of my favorites from her new album "Story Songs". Such a great mantra for today!

Wish James a happy birthday on Thursday at his twitter @JamesWesleyNYC and Betty today at @BettyBuckley. And peace out!

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