Entertainment » Celebrities

Seth Rudetsky on the 'Original Triple Threat' Chita Rivera

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Friday Oct 12, 2018

If anyone has the beat on Broadway these days it is Seth Rudetsky. From his daily Sirius Radio show to his Broadway cruises, cabaret performances with leading stars and his writing for Playbill, he lives and sleeps musical theater.

Along with producer Mark Cortale, he has changed the entertainment scene in Provincetown over the past few years with their weekly shows at the Art House. Over the past few summers, they have brought such stars as Audra Macdonald, Christine Ebersole, Jeremy Jordan, Patti Lupone, Sutton Foster and Michael Cerveris to the resort with shows that feature Rudetsky in freewheeling conversations with each performer, mixing musical numbers and career anecdotes in equal measure.

This coming weekend Cortale and Rudetsky join forces with Boston's Huntington Theatre Company in bringing their cabaret series to the city with the first of an ongoing series. They couldn't start the series with a more legendary star: Chita Rivera.

At 85, she shows no signs of slowing down. (EDGE spoke to her two years ago about her legendary career.) She recently performed on one of Rudetsky's popular Broadway cruises (called Seth's Big Fat Broadway Cruise) where they traveled off the Scandinavian coast.

For more on all things Seth, visit his website.

Chita Rivera and Seth Rudetsky appear at Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts on Saturday, October 13 at 5pm and 8pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Huntington Theatre's website.

EDGE spoke to Rudetsky recently from London where he is working on the West End production of his recent Broadway show "Disaster!" (Yes, he writes musicals as well.)

Lots of scoops

EDGE: Will the evening with Chita be similar to the format you've been doing in Provincetown?

Seth Rudetsky: Yes! There'll be tons of music from Chita's 60-plus years on Broadway... so many hit shows!... and then I'll be getting lots of scoop from her between songs about her career. Nothing is scripted! I interview her like she was on my SiriusXM show. I don't what we'll necessarily talk about, but there'll be plenty of Anita/Velma/"Spiderwoman"/"Bye Bye Birdie"/Jerome Robbins/Gwen Verdon/Bob Fosse etc. talk!

EDGE: Will Chita be dancing at all in this program?

Seth Rudetsky: I don't want to give anything away... but yes!

EDGE: Do you recall the first time you saw Chita on stage?

Seth Rudetsky: Of course! I was obsessed with "Chicago" as a little kid and begged my Mom to get us tickets. And she did! It was incredible! That sass, those moves, and especially that voice! The original triple threat!

What makes her a legend

EDGE: Chita is a great artist and legend. But just what makes a legend a legend?

Seth Rudetsky: Creating classic roles on Broadway. She didn't create these roles in revivals. She was with Bernstein and Sondheim when they taught her "A Boy Like That." The vamp for "All That Jazz" was created for her. These are songs that everyone who loves Broadway knows... and she was the original!

EDGE: You have a lot going on with your Sirius Radio show, your cruises, your writing and your performances. How do you do it?

Seth Rudetsky: I was at a theater tonight and asked a box office person what their hours were. She told me ten hours a day. That to me is crazy hard work! Everything, I do it an hour here, 90 minutes there. I practice a little piano, do a little show, write a little on the subway home, etc. I fit it all into the day because I work best that way. I can't do one thing for long periods of time. I have adult ADD. For real!

EDGE: I think you have mentioned what an important role your husband James Wesley plays in your day to day. Could you talk about what he does?

Seth Rudetsky: James and I are like Lucy and Desi. We do so much of our business together. When I was still subbing for Broadway shows in the orchestra, he told me that the three hours I spend playing "Phantom" could be spent finishing my book. And he was right! I stopped subbing and got two books published by Random House! After the Orlando shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, he told me we should record a version of "What The World Needs Now Is Love" like "We Are The World" featuring all Broadway stars. We organized it together and raised $100,000 for the Orlando GLBT Center. He told me I shouldn't wait to get my musical "Disaster!" produced by someone else and that I should do it at the Triad on 72nd street in NYC. I did... then he said we should move it to 46th street. From there it went to Broadway. He said we should be running our own Broadway cruise and got us hooked with Celebrity Cruise Lines to start "Seth's Big Fat Broadway Cruise." We love working together!

Cruises and concerts

EDGE: I see that "Disaster!" is headed to London. That's exciting. Can you talk about that a bit and what other projects you have in the offing?

Seth Rudetsky: I'm doing these types of shows (like the one with Chita) all over the place. Plus my cruise is taking off and we're going to the Caribbean, and Alaska, and soon Italy and a river boat down the Mississippi. I'm also working on a new play and a TV series. And, bringing "Disaster!" to London is a lot of work... but worth it!

EDGE: And, lastly, do you have a Chita anecdote you'd like to share?

Seth Rudetsky: She is such a professional... but loves to play jokes. When we walked on my Broadway cruise together, there were waiters offering drinks. She immediately pointed to me and said loudly "He can't drink." So I immediately got a reputation as an alcoholic! I will get her back eventually!

Chita Rivera and Seth Rudetsky appear at Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts on Saturday, October 13 at 5 pm and 8 pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Huntington Theatre's website.

For more on all things Seth, visit his website.

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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