Sirius/XM radio’s Broadway host Seth Rudetsky is bringing his one-man show Deconstructing Broadway to Colorado Springs. He plays for one night July 16 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. I shot him a few questions via email to learn more about him and the show:
OnStage Colorado: How do you describe your penchant for deconstructions? What was the first thing you deconstructed?
Seth Rudetsky: I’ve always been obsessed with certain moments within songs. When I was a little…and I mean LITTLE kid….my parents would play THE MOST HAPPY FELLA recording around the house and I was obsessed with “OOH MY FEET.” I would lift the needle off the record player to hear the vibrato Susan Johnson added on the second of “special” when she would sing “Ding my blue plate special ballet.” I didn’t call it a deconstruction, but that’s what it was. Here’s my deconstruction of that.
OSC: To deconstruct things well, you typically need to be good at constructing them. What’s your background in creating theater?
SR: Good point! I’ve been playing piano since I was 5 and I have a degree in classical piano performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music so I really understand music. As for theater, I got my first professional job as a performer when I was 12 in “Oliver” (with the amazing Shani Wallis) from the film and since then, I’ve had a lot of experience in rehearsal rooms. And as for creating theater, I’ve always been a writer ever since I wrote my first 2-page “play” when I was 9 featuring the villainous character “Miss Mazepa” (I was listening to a lot of GYPSY in those days). I was a comedy writer for a few years on THE ROSIE O’DONNELL SHOW and wrote sketches and song parodies (and the opening numbers for the 1998 and 2000 Tony Awards) and I’ve written a bunch of books — some fiction and some non-fiction (always with a Broadway bent). I co-wrote the musical DISASTER! with my friend Jack Plotnick, which was a NY TIMES critics’ pick — and it just happens to be playing at the same theater where I’ll be doing DECONSTRUCTING BROADWAY!
OSC: Other than theater nerds, who is ‘Deconstructing Broadway’ for? Do you have to know the show to get the joke?
SR: I purposefully wrote this show for people who know nothing about theater so that afterwards, they can see a show or hear a song and know exactly why they love it (or hate it)! People leave my show with a ton of new knowledge, which makes me very happy! Theater insiders also love it because It’s basically a comedy show. The bottom line is: You don’t have to an insider or an outsider to appreciate the bizarreness of listening to The Osmonds sing a medley from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF!
OSC: How would you describe the show to someone drunk in a bar who really needs a clear explanation to gain understanding?
SR: I don’t ever go to bars and I never drank. So for that to happen, I would have had to be forklifted from the street and deposited in an area I would never normally set foot in! But if I had to explain the show to someone who didn’t know anything about it, I’d say it’s like AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS plus the most amazing singing you’ve ever heard … rolled into a comedy show. And, since the person had obviously been drinking a lot, I would suggest they pee before seeing it because laughter causes lack of bladder control.
OSC: If you could re-shoot an entire film using the Rudetsky deconstruction method, what would it be and what are a few bits you couldn’t resist?
SR: I would love to do commentary on FAME (the movie NOT the TV show!). The score is so fantastic…I would definitely deconstruct how amazing Laura Dean is singing the first solo in “I Sing The Body Electric” but I would also deconstruct the crazy dance steps that LeRoy’s friend does at her dance audition. Even in the 70s, we were like “WTF?”