Sirius Radio’s Seth Rudetsky, one of the hosts on the Broadway Channel, brings his “Big Fat Broadway Show” to Theatre by the Sea on Monday, July 11.
If you’ve heard him on Sirius, you know how quick-witted and talented he is. If you haven’t heard him, tune in. He’s a wealth of behind-the-scenes stories about Broadway shows and stars.
In his stage show, he spends time deconstructing 60 audio cues from Broadway cast albums. “I deconstruct them,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I teach the audience what’s amazing and not amazing. It’s like, ‘Oh, this gives me a splitting headache, now I know why.”
Rudetsky calls it a lecture under the guise of a comedy show. “I play samples from ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ Sutton Foster, Liza Minelli. Under the heading of ‘What Were You Thinking?,’ I’ll play a ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ medley featuring the Osmonds. Never should have happened. It’s horrific.”
I found it on Youtube and now I can’t unsee it.
Rudetsky’s been in love with Broadway since he saw “Hair” when he was four years old. “I started taking piano lessons when I was five.” He attended Oberlin Conservatory, and after graduation, move to New York and “started working in showbiz.”
He played in the pit for shows like “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Grease.” He spent three years as a comedy writer on Rosie O’Donnell’s daytime show. He wrote the opening numbers for the Tony Awards shows in 1998 and 2000.
Rudetsky’s been doing concerts with his friends for years. “I like to say I gave Jennifer Hudson her break. She auditioned with a song I gave her from ‘Hair.’ I’m not saying I deserve an Oscar, but…”
When the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020, Rudetsky and his husband started producing live concerts to raise money for the Actors Fund. To date, they’ve raised $1.1 million.
He landed the show at Sirius after being interviewed about a show he’d written called “Rhapsody in Seth,” a semi-autobiographical piece. “I got a call from the head of the Broadway Channel who said he thought I was really good on radio. He asked if I’d be interested in hosting a Broadway radio show.”
Ironically, Rudetsky’s mother had told him “for years, I should have a Broadway radio show. And here I was offered one. At first, they offered me Saturday and Sunday nights. I thought it was a big deal, but it turns out no one listens then.”
That didn’t last long. After a couple of weeks, he was offered a seven-day-a-week show. “It’s a weird job I never tried to get. But people listen all over America and Canada.” It’s also a wonderful vehicle to promote the shows he does around the country, and the Broadway cruises he organizes. “A lot of people come because they’re obsessed with my [radio] show. It ends with people loving my show even more.”
Rudetsky’s show “Disaster” was written to fulfill a dream, “to write a show and cast all my friends. All my casting was done by texting people. Faith Prince says it was her favorite Broadway experience.”
Now that the show is licensed with MTI, it’s available for local productions. “The first out-of-town production was at a Catholic high school. The main character is a nun with a gambling addiction, singing ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ to a slot machine. I never thought a Catholic high school would do that.”
Rudetsky’s “Big Fat Broadway” show is 15 years old now. “It’s a comedy show first, and if you love Broadway, even better. I literally wrote it for people obsessed with Broadway and for people who know nothing about Broadway.”
He has one warning. Before deconstructing Bea Arthur singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” he asks pregnant women to leave the theater. “I don’t want to cause any damage to fetuses.”
If you’re not pregnant, you can catch that bit at the end of the clip above, which also deconstructs Barbra Streisand.
Theatre by the Sea presents “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Show” Monday, July 11 at 7:30. For tickets and information, call 401-782-TKTS or visit www.theatrebythesea.com.