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November 28, 2012

Theater: Deconstructing Broadway

Seth Rudetsky presents his ‘Big Fat Broadway Show’

Seth Rudetsky is an actor, musician, writer and Broadway fanatic. He even has his own radio show about all things Broadway on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. And he’s not all talk. As a pianist, he’s performed in numerous Broadway productions, including “Ragtime” and “Les Miserables.” He brings his comedic “Big Fat Broadway Show” to town Saturday at the Kentucky Center as part of the LEO A Little Off Center series. We spoke with Rudetsky about his upcoming show and his love for — you guessed it — Broadway.

LEO: For folks not familiar with what you do, describe your current show and your title as a “Broadway deconstructionist.”
Seth Rudetsky: I think of this show as a combo of “The Daily Show,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Broadway’s Best Bloopers.” The last isn’t really a TV show, but it should be! I travel around the country with my audio and video collection and show the audience what’s brilliant about Broadway and what’s a splitting headache and why. For instance, Patti LuPone in “Evita” is amazing. Madonna singing the exact same material in the film is devastating. I compare and contrast. And you don’t need to know anything about Broadway to appreciate it. I love doing the show because I’m doing comedy yet playing the piano yet teaching people all about Broadway yet watching Cher sing “West Side Story.” I literally show that video. You will not recover.

LEO: All-time favorite Broadway musical and why?
SR: I love “West Side Story” because it brings the story, the music and the dancing all together. Everything advances the story; it doesn’t stop so someone can do a high-kick! I also love “Gypsy” and “Evita” and so many others. I saw my first Broadway show when I was 4 — it was “Hair”! My parents were very hip and took me to see it right before it closed.

LEO: You’ve worked with some Broadway legends; do you have an experience that rises to the top as your favorite?
SR: I grew up watching the Tony Awards, so it was especially exciting when Rosie O’Donnell asked me to write the opening number in 1998. I love lady belters, and I got to pick who was in the number, so I was not only writing for the Tony Awards, but my number featured three of my idols: Jennifer Holliday, Patti LuPone and Betty Buckley.

LEO: Have you ever been to Louisville?
SR: I have never been to Kentucky! I’m so looking forward to some delicious dessert that I’m sure people in NYC try to make but don’t know the right ingredients.

LEO: What’s the next project for you?
SR: I just finished the sequel for my young adult book (“My Awesome Awful Popularity Plan”), and if Random House doesn’t fire me because it was two months late, I have to start editing it. Plus, I wrote a musical with my friend Jack Plotnick based on those amazing 1970s disaster movies. Our show has an earthquake, tidal wave, killer bees, etc. We ran it a few times last year and got an amazing New York Times review. We’re planning on opening it off-Broadway in a few months.

Seth Rudetsky’s ‘Big Fat Broadway Show’
Saturday, Dec. 1
Kentucky Center
584-7777 • kentuckycenter.org
$25; 8 p.m.