By Seth Reines, January 2019 Issue.
Seth Rudetsky does a lot. His lengthy list of talents includes: classically trained pianist, actor, author, radio host, political activist, and animal rescue advocate. He’s also the man that The New York Times deemed “The Mayor of Broadway.”
He is the afternoon host of Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s On Broadway as well as the host of Seth Speaks on Sirius/XM Stars. As a pianist, he has played for more than a dozen Broadway shows including Ragtime, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera. As a comedy writer, Rudetsky has been nominated for three Emmy Awards for his work on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and has written for both the Grammy Awards and the Tony Awards.
In 2007 he made his Broadway acting debut in The Ritz at The Roundabout Theater. Off-Broadway, he wrote and starred in Rhapsody in Seth and has appeared on TV’s Law and Order C.I. and All My Children. He played himself on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and as the vocal coach on MTV’s reality show Legally Blonde. In 2017, he co-wrote and starred in the Broadway musical DISASTER!
Rudetsky’s short story “My First Story” was included in the 2005 anthology Fresh Men 2: New Voice in Gay Fiction, followed by The Q Guide to Broadway and novel Broadway Nights. In 2012, he wrote his first young adult novel My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan with a 2015 sequel The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek.
Last year, Rudetsky spent 140 days on the road, bringing his quick wit and vast Broadway knowledge to performing arts centers across the country. This year, he will share the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts stage with six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (January 19) and Broadway (Newsies) and TV (Supergirl) star Jeremy Jordan (February 9).
Recently, Rudetsky banished his husband, producer James Wesley, their daughter Juli, and their three rescue dogs to the backyard so we could discuss Seth’s life and passions.
Echo: Since the devastating 2016 Presidential election, what have you been doing?
Rudetsky: Every month, we [Seth and his husband] have done Concerts for America, where we go all over the country with big Broadway stars, raising money for non-profit organizations that are being hurt by the government. During the immigration crises in June, we did a big one that travelled the country.
Echo: I hear you are also taking Broadway to the high seas.
Rudetsky: We call them Seth’s Big, Fat Broadway Cruises. We are doing our fourth one in the Caribbean this March with Aniko Larsen, Andrea McArdle, and Sierra Boggess. Then, we head for Alaska in July with Liz Callaway, Lindsay Mendez, and Jesse Mueller.
Echo: Speaking of cruises, what’s happening with your hilarious Broadway musical set at sea, DISASTER!?
Rudetsky: There have been quite a few successful regional productions since the Broadway run, and we’re planning a West End production in London. Actually, I have been told that there are several productions of the show in the Phoenix area next season. I am very happy about that!
Echo: Didn’t you already do a benefit performance of the show in London?
Rudetsky: We did it for the British version of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
(Dog barks interrupt the interview.)
Echo: Not only have you rescued all three of your animals, but you are a passionate spokesman for the cause. Tell us about your recent Best in Shows honor.
Rudetsky: Bill Berloni trains rescue dogs for Broadway shows like Sandy in Annie. Once a show closes, he adopts the dog. Right now, he has 33 on his farm! He plays my Sirius On Broadway show for them every day. He thinks that when they hear a Broadway tune, it makes them more comfortable. Bill also started an annual Broadway concert benefitting the Humane Society of New York and I’ve been hosting the benefit for several years. Every year, the Berlonis honor a member of the Broadway community who has demonstrated deep concern and work for rescued animals. Last year, it was Bernadette Peters and this year, it was me. It made me so happy.
Echo: As a political activist, how do you feel about the midterm elections?
Rudetsky: Really good. I think things are going to get better. We did a lot of political salons where I performed with Broadway stars like Audra McDonald to raise campaign money.
Echo: Great segue to your upcoming Scottsdale concert with Audra! What makes her unique as a performer?
Rudetsky: She’s got this gorgeous voice, but that really is never enough. What makes her a mega-mega star is that she is such an incredible actress. She’s a TV star who really knows how to connect with audiences emotionally. People think of her as a grand diva, but they don’t know she is so funny! She’s been making me laugh since the late ‘90s when we met at an audition. Now, our kids have play dates!
Echo: Besides your full concert schedule, what else is on your plate?
Rudetsky: I am reworking an old, very famous Broadway musical with a new big twist. I am also adapting my young adult books into TV movies. The more projects I am doing at once, the happier I am. But what I really love are the concerts like the ones we are doing in Scottsdale. It’s like hanging out with your friends. I never think of the audience as strangers. Everyone knows each other and make each other laugh. The concerts are like my real life onstage.
Don’t miss real life friends Rudetsky and McDonald in a delicious evening of Broadway gossip, trivia and tunes on January 19 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. For more information and tickets, visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org.