Spotlight on Seth Rudetsky

by Andrew Barrett    

(part two)

I decide to interrupt the flow of the line of questioning to delve into Seth's personal life. I think knowing this side of Seth further helps to know Seth. Not to mention that his magnificent one man show, Rhapsody in Seth reveals such an intimate portrait of him, I thought this would be a wonderful teaser for those able to attend.

AB:  Are you single? And why?

SR:  NO! I've been with Aaron for 4 years.

AB:  How did you meet?

SR:  We met through mutual friends - that old chestnut. He had already met me and I knew that he has a crush on me. I went over to my friend's house to check him out for the second time because I didn't remember him the first time. Then I found out he was a Leo and I was like, "That's it. I'm in love with you."

AB:  I ask this because it is so joyous in Rhapsody in Seth, after all this pain you've been put though, that it ends up some place, that your life, well you can live happily ever after.

SR:  Yes. That is the point of the show. Thank you. I'm glad you said it.

AB:  Where do you like to go on vacation? And why?

SR:  P-town. [Provincetown, MA] I just started going there two years ago and it was the best time I ever had. You have the shopping, the beach, the basic food, and normal gay people. I love it. I love it.

AB:  Where do you imagine the worst place to take a two week vacation and why?

SR:  Libya. I've been reading a book about it recently. It sounds horrible.

Rhapsody in SethAB:  Can you tell me about your one man show, Rhapsody in Seth? How did it come about?

SR:  My agent (Richie Jackson) came to see a show I was doing with Jack Plotnik, my comedy partner, and you know, the whole joke was about "we don't want it to be a play". And he was like, "I know you don't want this be a play but what I really see the show about is two guys who don't fit in and they use their awkwardness and the things that don't make them fit in to succeed later on in life. And they're relatively famous and they're good friends with Divas." And I was like, "That would be sort of interesting". So we were at the gay pride march and I asked Jack, "Do you mind if I do this idea myself. Wrote it myself?" He said, "No. It's fine." I just came home ... and it was like ... I just wrote and wrote. It was so easy. There are so many stories.

AB:  Is it 100% your life?

SR:  Oh yes. It's the real truth.

AB:  Have you spoken to all the people who are "in it"?

SR:  No. I've spoken with the nice people. My parents, of course, have seen it and they loved it.

Let me interject to the reader that part of the joy of Rhapsody in Seth is watching him become the very people who humiliated or tortured him. For instance, Seth's father is "busted" in the show. Seth's interpretation of his father is somewhere between Jimmy Cagney with a toothpick in the side of his mouth ... and Katherine Hepburn.

SR:  My father ... my father is totally busted in the show ... so after the show he says "You know, it's not 100% true". I'm waiting for him to finish. So I ask, "Oh what, Dad?" And he was like, "I mean we won that lawsuit about Beth's broken collar bone" I shockingly reply, "That's the only thing!? Like, your trying to make out with me is normal?!" I have spoken to a lawyer though about being liable. I think I'm clear.

AB:  When you are alone on stage and you hear the audience laughing, what are you thinking?

SR:  Oh ... you know me; it's a lot of feelings. One is, "This section's not funny" and I'm always annoyed at them and I'm like, "Don't they realize this is serious?" But I wrote the show for really political reasons. I really wrote it ... it's like; this is what it's like growing up gay. It's not about when I'm 20 when I decided to come out - it's like, I knew I was gay as a kid - you're tortured. I want people to know ... it's like ... "Gay education in school?!". "Gay Education in school?!" All those fucking idiots who know ... you're tormented you're whole childhood! I wanted the complete specifics of my story to open people's fucking eyes. But I also didn't want it to be, "Oh poor, poor me." But that's the point of why I did the show, it's a like a dream come true. It's like every time I see a show I'm like, "Oh I wanna conduct it, and I wanna do the lead, but I wanna write it" This is the first time I literally get to write it and be funny and ...

AB:  You're George M. Cohen

SR:  Exactly! It's like totally a dream come true. I love that. You know that it's all me. It's conceited, you know, no it's not conceited. It's every actor's joy. I love working with Jack. I love partnering. But there's something amazing about doing everything yourself. Except the directing. Paul (Castree) did the directing. Thank god.

Andrea Martin & Seth
AB:  What other plans do you have for "Chatterbox" and Rhapsody in Seth?

SR:  "Chatterbox"- my goal is to get in on TV. Have it live- streamed over the Internet. Then catalogue the tapes, the TV version and sell those. That's the point of my show - its archival. People talk about me going on TV and talk about "the latest show". But what's interesting to me is the history of people.

And Rhapsody in Seth - I want to tour it to colleges. I really want to do that. I wanna tour it around the country regularly. I wanna open it in NY- and then I wanna get it filmed for HBO. Those are my goals for it. I think it's possible.

AB:  You're selling yourself and "Chatterbox" to one of those 20 year old power agents out in LA, and you have one minute, go!

SR:  Oh my god!

AB:  That's you're first ten seconds.

SR:  It's a really funny Inside the Actors Studio. So you get all the information. And the depth and information you get from all the other shows. But it's really funny at the same time.

AB:  If you could be any diva who would it be?

SR:  I would have to be a combination of Patti (LuPone) and Betty (Buckley). I could never decide. I'm always having face-offs with myself. I'm like, "I'm sorry she's better. No, I'm sorry. SHE'S better!" I can't decide. I'd have to be either Patti Buckley or Betty LuPone.

It would only be fitting to end this interview with the exclamation that is going to make Seth as famous as that old stand by, "Heeeeeeeeeeer's Johnny." ... Seth, from all of us who have known you through the years from audition accompanist to the Tony's Opening number writer, from all of us who marvel at the gift you selflessly share, from all of us who want to ride on your coattails and say, "Seth, who?"


Rhapsody in Seth is being presented Sundays through June 30 and Thursdays in July (7/11, 7/18, 7/25) at Ars Nova Theater, 511 West 54th Street. Tickets are $12.00. For reservations, call (212) 977-1700. The schedule of guests can be found at the Seth's Chatterbox website.

Rhapsody in Seth received a rave in The New York Blade, and Seth is currently working on getting an extended run in New York and taking it on tour.

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Photos: Forrest Mallard