|Broadway ‘expert’ Seth Rudetsky to strut his stuff in KC|
|Written by Ruth Baum Bigus, Contributing Writer|
|Wednesday, May 30 2012 13:29|
What’s a nice Jewish guy doing on national satellite radio and writing books, playing the piano professionally, and starting his own reality show on his own network June 18?
If you’re Seth Rudetsky, it’s all in a day’s work. For those who follow the Broadway theater scene, Rudetsky is the beloved afternoon Broadway host on Sirius/XM Radio and of a new show, “Seth Speaks”. He’s also a columnist for Playbill.com, and his resume builds from there.
So what’s this nice Jewish Broadway expert and entertainer doing coming to Kansas City this Sunday, June 3?
Rudetsky is starring in his one man show, “Seth Rudetsky Tells You Everything You Wanted to Know About the Tonys: A sassy, savvy tell-all with Broadway’s funniest insider” at the White Recital Hall at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Rudetsky’s 6 p.m. show is in connection with Music Theatre for Young People’s senior production of “Chicago.” (MTYP is a professional performer training program for youth grades two through 12.) Among those involved with the MTYP show is Jewish performer Gabbie Fried, daughter of Sandi and Ed Fried. This is Gabbie’s sixth MTYP production and likely her last as she heads off to New York University this fall to study acting.
“I’m excited because I’ve seen his show before and his show is really awesome,” Gabbie said. “My mother and I have already enjoyed listening to his opinions and guests from many of the shows so it will be fun to see how he thinks the Tony’s will end up this year.”
So how did Rudetsky’s visit come about? Through MTYP’s music director Julie Danielson, who now works in New York City. The two worked together on several benefit concerts and “Legally Blonde,” an MTV reality show. Danielson introduced Rudetsky to Danielson’s mother and MTYP Founder Cary Danielson Pandzik.
“We told him about MTYP and all our successful alums,” Danielson said. “He was intrigued and mentioned he had only been to Kansas City one other time.... So we’ve been trying ever since to bring him in town to see the great work that MTYP does ... and do his show.”
So for those who don’t follow Broadway, who is Seth Rudetsky?
According to his website, the Jewish performer’s first big role came when he was in the third grade; he played the Cowardly Lion while attending Hillel summer day camp. Next up, Rudetsky “starred” in the camp’s production of the operetta, “The Mikado.” It was an auspicious start for a Jewish boy from Long Island. His first directing gig came in junior high as assistant music director for his school’s production “Once Upon a Mattress.” And Rudetsky’s first “professional” gig? A small part in “Oliver” at the Northstage Dinner Theater starring Shani Wallis, the actress who starred as Nancy in the movie.
Rudetsky’s theater passion continued through high school with stints in shows at summer arts camp. His talent for playing the piano also blossomed. Upon high school graduation Rudetsky went to Oberlin Conservatory as a classical piano performance major. However, what he really enjoyed was playing the Broadway repertoire. He got into more music directing, as well. Post college, Rudetsky had stints with various theaters around the East Coast and a European Tour of “A Chorus Line.” Then there was the position of musical director for “Forever Plaid” — he even came to Kansas City with that production.
Needless to say, Rudetsky’s career around professional theater — both in the pit and on the stage — took off. He’s played for more than a dozen Broadway shows including “Les Miz,” “Phantom” and “Ragtime.” He was the artistic producer/music director for the first five annual Actors Fund Fall Concerts. And in 2007, Rudetsky made his Broadway acting debut playing Sheldon in “The Ritz” directed by Joe Mantello for The Roundabout Theater.
Rudetsky has done off-Broadway, writing and starring in “Rhapsody in Seth” as well as television with appearances in “Law and Order C.I.” and a recurring role on “All My Children.” Rudetsky has also written books including “The Q Guide to Broadway” and “Broadway Nights,” which was just released as an audio book featuring Andrea Martin, Jonathan Groff and Kristin Chenoweth.
Rudetsky is looking forward to his return performance in Kansas City.
“People can expect to laugh,” said Rudetsky about his show. “My shows are always based in comedy and everything else comes from there.... People can expect to leave loving Broadway more than they already do. And if they’re the type of person who doesn’t know anything about Broadway or professes to hate, I guarantee they will leave loving Broadway,” he said with a laugh.
Rudetsky has been doing a talk show about Broadway since 1999 and has interviewed hundreds of its performers. During his show, he’ll share some insights from those conversations.
“I know lots of hilarious stories from their experiences at the Tony Awards — from singing completely wrong lyrics to someone having the nerve to pronounce Stephen Sondheim’s name wrong in front of him,” he said. “I love making people laugh and I love letting people know how Broadway works.”
Rudetsky said being Jewish gives him a strong cultural connection to Broadway.
“When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of Jewish movie stars, but Broadway was overflowing with yiddishkeit,” he said. “I certainly had a lot of Jews to idolize growing up who were Broadway bigwigs: Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Marvin Hamlisch etc.”
Rudetsky enjoys being involved in almost every aspect of performing and being connected to Broadway. He isn’t happy unless he’s balancing several different projects simultaneously.
“I love it all,” Rudetsky said.
“I especially love the radio because I get to spread the love of Broadway across the country,” he said.
Does Rudetsky have any show business advice for Gabbie and her fellow MTYP?
“Do not listen to anyone who says you can’t do it,” Rudetsky said. “Try to take every opportunity that comes your way because you always learn something from it.”
For more information about the June 3 performance of Chicago and Rudetsky’s show, visit www.mtyp.org.