Chatterbox" - 01/27/00
Talkin' Broadway V.J.

Seth's Broadway Chatterbox
A New Talk Show
by Seth Rudetsky

By day, I work as comedy writer on The Rosie O'Donnell Show. By night, I sub as a pianist on different Broadway shows. Throughout the year I do comedy shows at Caroline's ... and on Thursdays at 6 p.m., I host a Broadway interview show.  Seth's Broadway Chatterbox was born because I thought it would be different to have a show where the host and interviewees are both part of the Broadway scene.

Here's my story: I've been playing the piano on Broadway for years (Phantom, Spider Woman, Ragtime, Grease, Victor/Victoria, How to Suceed, etc ...) and I've also played for many theater Divas (I played/arranged Audra's ‘Down with Love' at the Leading Ladies Carnegie Hall concert, toured with Patti LuPone and played Betty Buckley's voice lessons for a long time). I wrote the lyrics to the "I want to be a Diva," the 1998 Tony Awards opening number with Patti, Betty and Jennifer and I'm one of those theatre fans who know the order of all the Annies and who the matinee Evita's were.

I wanted to do a show where someone like Janet Metz wasn't asked "What was it like playing the narrator in Joseph?" but "Janet, Laurie Beechman belted a ‘C' during ‘Jacob and sons' and you modulated the song up a third. Why? And is that a belt or a mix?" In other words, annoyingly obsessive!

Each week, I meet my guests in the back room of Don't Tell Mama's and as I interview, I play piano for them. (A sick Norm Lewis was begged to sing Bill Finn's "Sailing" and complied.) I also ask each guest to bring a mortifying video clip from their past. (Did you know Kristin Chenoweth was angry when she lost the Miss Pennsylvania Beauty Pageant? There's a clip to prove it!) Sometimes I'll take a clip the guest provided and edit it. (i.e. The two faces of Rebecca Luker: A beautiful blonde soprano singing in The Leading Ladies Concert at Carnegie Hall VS. A no nonsense, make-up free scoutmaster hawking Cortaid. I made a mix tape that includes both faces so you can compare and contrast).

I also ask the audience if they have any questions for the interveiwees.

The show just began a month ago, but here are some highlights:

Ruthie Henshall's description of what a man or woman must think of to feel proper vocal support. (This is too X-rated to print.)

Orfeh's video clip of being on the "Today" show and having to change the "Footloose" choreography because her mic wouldn't go in her stand.

Norm Lewis discussing whether or not he'd be more famous if he were white. (He said he thinks he'd be lost in the mix.)

Rebecca Luker telling me about Davis Gaines (when he played Raoul) calmy walking off the stage in the middle of "All I Ask of You" because he was about to throw up. (She finished the song herself and pretended he'd jumped off the roof.)

Janet Metz talking about Donny Osmond noticing the smell of vomit during the "Joseph" Mega-Mix. Turns out, someone in the child's choir had projectile vomited on the top stair and hit every kid down the stairs!

Paul Castree describing Saturday Night Fever audiences who react like a sitcom audience to his tragi-comic character. ("Ha Ha Ha Ha Awwwww!")

Orfeh claiming she only knows 5 riffs and then demonstrating them as she sang the only audition song she has. ("If It's Over" by Mariah Carey and Carole King, which got her Footloose, Fascinating Rhythm and Saturday Night Fever.)

Upcoming guests include:

Taye Diggs (currently starring in The Manhattan Theatre Club's The Wild Party.)

Audra MacDonald. (I played her Juilliard Senior Recital and have quite a story to bust her about!)

Priscilla Lopez/Kelly Bishop. (A Chorus Line is my favorite show!)

Each week all the money goes to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Seth's Broadway Chatterbox Thursdays at 6 PM. Tickets are $10 with a 2 drink minimum. Don't Tell Mama is on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. For Reservations call (212) 757-0788

Editor's Note - Schedule Update:

Feb 18 - Brian D'Arcy James/Alix Korey from MTC'S Wild Party
Feb 24 - Marin Mazzie
March 2 - Andrea McArdle
March 9 - Karen Ziemba (tentative)
March 16 - Terrence Mann/Charlotte D'Amboise

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