Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Great Moments in New York Theater - Sutton Foster, Seth Rudetsky and THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG

In May of this year I started a series on this blog about my favourite moments on the New York stage. Now and then, when I have time to sit and reminisce about three decades of theater going in this city, I like to write the memories down and share them with anyone willing to read them. The second story I wrote was about my first Broadway show, They're playing our song ( ). When I wrote that story, I had no idea that, come September, I would be reliving those happy memories, in person.

I didn't know that the Actor's Fund was doing one of their special concert performances of my beloved first show. I didn't know that the lady playing the female lead would be Sutton Foster, my favourite Broadway young leading lady. I wouldn't have known any of it, had my husband not bought me a ticket to the show. You see, he knows me. I knows this was my first show, he knows what strong sentiment I have for it, he knows how much I love Sutton (his adoration of the lady actually surpasses my own), and he knows it would have broken my heart to hear about this concert after the fact. So, even though our finances are rather precarious during these harsh economic times, even though we never go to the theater without one another, he got me a single ticket. After admonishing him (and crying a little) for spending the money, I thanked him profusely.

I was excited.

I admitted to being concerned by the choice for the male lead. It was a part played by the great Robert Klein and, for this concert, they had chosen a wonderfully talented man named Seth Rudetsky. Everyone in New York theater knows Seth. He is a brilliant musician and conductor, a riveting radio show host, an exciting interviewer of a live Broadway chat-with-the-stars cabaret show.... he is NOT known as an actor. He is also unapologetically, flamboyantly, outspokenly, publically, visibly gay. The chemistry that had existed between the legendary Lucie Arnaz and the extraordinary Robert Klein might take some hits when pairing Sutton Foster and Seth Rudetsky....

I sat in my seat, excited, as the overture started. I didn't care what happened for the next two hours, I was going to enjoy it.

And I did. I really did.

First off, let me just say that I was wrong about Seth Rudetsky. He charmed the pants off of me. Almost literally. I developed such a crush on him during the show! I had no idea he had such a sweet, pleasant singing voice and so natural and enjoyable an acting talent. He was able to sufficiently dial back his flamboyance (something I was never able to do during my own acting days) until all I saw was a neurotic New York jew in love with an even more neurotic New York East Village artist. I completely and totally bought into every single moment of his performance; as the saying goes, he had me in the palm of his hand.

Sutton Foster did NOT have me in the palm of her hand.

She had me at her feet, trailing behind her like an adoring puppy dog. She had me hanging on her every word, her every move, her every sigh. She proved, once more, why she is a star of the Broadway stage. She completely and totally embodied every aspect of this wonderfully crazy, yet inexplicably logical, woman. Every time she moved, I sighed. I simply can never get over how much I respect and revere this lady's talent.

You know, I still have vivid memories of the original show, 30 years later. I can remember so many things about (not only the beautiful performances but) the production itself and the way I felt while watching it. That show and Ms Arnaz and Mr Klein left an indelible mark on my heart, my soul, my very life itself. I ran a risk of not approving of this concert version, that's how closely I hold that first time to my heart. It wasn't a big risk because of the overall happiness I have for the show ( in spite of some people saying it is dated, which I don't think or care about ), for the score of songs and for the stars playing the concert. I am glad... so happy that Pat spent the money to make sure that I saw the concert. It revived, for me, so many wonderful memories; and it created some wonderful new ones.

One of those new memories came as I entered the theater. Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz were right in front of me at the ticket taker's line. As we went to our seats, I touched Miss Arnaz on the shoulder and said "I was 16 and it was my first Broadway show and it set the tone for the rest of my life." She smiled and said something sweet to me. It's enough. The fact that she knows is enough.

I simply love living in this city and being a part (however small) of this community. Where else could I have such great adventure?

Please note that the photo in this story, I got off the internet: it is by Krissie Fullerton at The Actor's Fund


Blogger AJohnP said...

I'm so jealous! I would have loved to have seen this, as I'm a big fan of both Sutton Foster and Seth Rudetsky. I'm happy to hear that it was an enjoyable evening.
Thanks for the report!!

8:59 AM  

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