Seth Rudetsky doesn’t want to rain on his idol Barbra Streisand’s parade, but the Sirius XM radio host’s one-man show at Molloy College in Rockville Centre does sprinkle a few barbs Babs’ way, in particular, about her idiosyncratic diction on some lesser-known recordings.
“I do a huge section on Barbra Streisand, kind of like why she’s amazing and also why she gives you a splitting headache,” Rudetsky, 50, of Manhattan said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. “I do a whole deconstruction of how she changes consonants, just arbitrarily changes a ‘T’ to an ‘L.’ ” In true theater geek fashion, that deconstruction is accompanied by Rudetsky lip-syncing to a voice-over of Streisand singing the offending consonant on the “Funny Girl” original cast album.
Patti LuPone vs. Madonna as Evita? “Hello, Dolly!” Tony winner Gavin Creel’s vibrato? A “mind-bogglingly shocking” video of the Osmond Brothers’ “Fiddler on the Roof” medley? All provide ripe targets for the 1984 George W. Hewlett High School graduate, a musical theater nerd since age 7, when his parents took him to see “The Pajama Game,” “Pippin” and “Grease” one fateful Christmas week.
“I became completely obsessed with Broadway,” recalls Rudetsky, who, as a child, began auditioning for shows in the city. At age 12, he won a part in “Oliver!” at the now-defunct Northstage Theater Restaurant in Glen Cove, where he shared the stage with Shani Wallis of the classic 1968 movie version. “That made me realize I could make a living doing theater,” Rudetsky said.
After earning a degree in piano performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, Rudetsky worked as a substitute pianist for long-running Broadway shows such as “Les Misérables” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” and as an accompanist for Broadway divas such as LuPone and Audra McDonald.
“I can’t imagine a Broadway star I haven’t worked with closely,” he said. The current show (also known as “Deconstructing Broadway”) arose from a stand-up comedy routine Rudetsky built around his hobby of collecting and analyzing clips of his famous friends’ live performances. “I love live performances because people always make mistakes,” he said. “I’d always be rewinding and showing people . . . really amazing things like Patti LuPone in ‘Evita’ . . . or horrific things like ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ sung by Bea Arthur.”
He expanded the show on the advice of the equally Broadway-obsessed Commack native Rosie O’Donnell, whom Rudetsky had worked for as a writer on her talk show. “Rosie said I should write an entire show of just that,” Rudetsky said.
The “dishy” format should be familiar to fans of Rudetsky’s “deconstructions” on YouTube, and Sirius XM’s On Broadway channel show, “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway.”
Said Rudetsky: “It’s like a comedy show, but you leave really loving Broadway . . . with a new awareness about what’s brilliant and what’s headachy.”
“Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Show”
WHEN | WHERE 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre
INFO $35; 516-323-4444, madisontheatreny.org
James Earl Jones stars as Paul Robeson, Matthew Broderick as “The Jolson Story’s” Larry Parks and Mercedes Ruehl as legendary playwright Lillian Hellman in Guild Hall’s concert-style reading of “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” Eric Bentley’s play, which had a brief Broadway run in 1979, dramatizes the 1950s McCarthy Communist witch hunts, with a script lifted directly from transcripts of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Rounding out the cast are Peter Riegert as playwright Abe Burrows; Richard Kind as the committee chairman; Harris Yulin, who also directs, as character actor Lionel Stander, and, in a bit of stunt casting, Barry Scheck, a member of O.J. Simpson’s courtroom defense “Dream Team,” as the interrogator.
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, Guild Hall, 158 Main St., East Hampton
INFO $30-$50; 631-324-0806, guildhall.org