ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Andrea Martin in Pippin

By Seth Rudetsky
31 Dec 2012

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.



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Here's my last column of 2012! First of all, I've added more clips to SethTV.com including a hilarious TV show I did with Jack Plotnick years ago where he played Evie Harris. If you've never seen his hilarity as Evie, watch my "Best of Obsessed!" compilation that was just posted on Playbill.com, featuring Evie, Constantine Maroulis, Randy Graff, the cast of Disaster! and Liz Callaway. Watch it here:

Speaking of Jack, he stayed with me last week after his first directing gig. He co-wrote the film "Space Station '76" and it's chock-full of stars: Liv Tyler, Jerry O'Connell, Matt Bohmer and Patrick Wilson. Such a brava! E News just did a piece on it…take a gander.

Juli, James and Seth in Boston

I'm writing this from the Hyatt Regency in Boston where my family and I have been on a mini-vacation. We came up here to see Andrea Martin in Pippin, which is playing at American Repertory Theater (the same place where Once and Porgy and Bess began). Diane Paulus (Hair) is the director, and the concept for the show is really cool. Normally, all the players (except Pippin) are part of a traveling troupe of performers. This time, they're a traveling troupe of circus acrobats. And they're brilliant acrobats. Yet they all sing, dance and act. Brava on being quadruple threats! And quadruple-jointed. Andrea plays the grandmother (originally played by Irene Ryan) who sings "No Time At All." When she was offered the part she told the director she would love to do it if she could also do something acrobatic. Well, Andrea was right to ask because the song has always been a crowd-pleaser but now it's a show-stopper. I can't reveal anymore but it's so thrilling! As soon as the song ended, James leaned over and said, "If this comes to Broadway, she's going to win her second Tony Award." Brava!

 

Andrea Martin and Matthew James Thomas in Pippin.
photo by Michael J. Lutch

It was such a pleasure hearing the Pippin score, which I think is one of the best written for Broadway. And it's mind-boggling to know that Stephen Schwartz was in his early 20s when he wrote both the music and the lyrics. When you hear it you realize that he was a pioneer in a new Broadway sound that would be echoed by Jason Robert Brown, William Finn, Andrew Lippa, Tom Kitt and so many more who have roots in the singer-songwriter style. When I was seven years old, my parents decided to take the money that would have been spent on an out-of-town vacation and use it to see three Broadway shows: The Pajama Game (with Hal Linden and Barbara McNair), Grease and Pippin (still with Ben Vereen). It was a few years ago (!) but I still remember the white gloves at the beginning of "Magic to Do" and I remember when the lyrics were flown in on a banner so the audience could sing along during "No Time At All."

It was so moving to me to see Andrea Martin sing that song and for me to remember it as one of my first Broadway experiences. I've been obsessed with the score ever since and, as a matter of fact, my very first deconstruction was about Pippin (and Billy Porter). Here it is

And speaking of Deconstructions, I just put up a new one featuring the cast of Hairspray, specifically Shoshana Bean

 Continued...