The Origin Story of Seth’s Broadway Breakdown Includes Rosie O'Donnell and Barbra Streisand | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky The Origin Story of Seth’s Broadway Breakdown Includes Rosie O'Donnell and Barbra Streisand This week, Seth's latest show begins previews September 12 at Asylum NYC—plus Beth Leavel talks about The Devil Wears Prada.
Seth's Broadway Breakdown Squigs

Back in 2003, I performed in what was then called Gypsy of the Year, which is a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. That year, it was at the Neil Simon Theatre, where Hairspray was running. The main part of my time was spent describing about how Barbra Streisand literally changes the “t” in the word “apart” to a “d” and then how she changes the “t” in the word “mute” to an “l.” I talked about it and then I played the actual songs where that craziness happens and the audience reaction was so amazing. Here is the footage of that day.

After that performance, Rosie O'Donnell told me I should write a show with just “that kind of stuff” which I hadn’t yet named but now call my “deconstructions” or my “Broadway breakdowns.” Well, almost twenty years later, I have my first preview in NYC of the show she told me to write. Seth’s Broadway Breakdown has its first preview September 12. I’ve done a version of it around the country (and in London) but this time I re-wrote it be all about Broadway coming back. I’ve been frantically adding deconstructions and trying to memorize it all week. The premise is that in order for us to full appreciate Broadway, we need to know what’s amazing about it and, quite frankly, what isn’t. I have so many fun celebrities coming this Sunday, including many who are featured in the show, like the fabulous Betty Buckley. Here’s a deconstruction of her Broadway debut. Come see me either this Sunday or when the run officially begins October 15.

Seth Rudetsky and Andrea Martin

The big news is: James and I are finally living in NYC again. We had signed a two-year lease on an apartment in August 2019 and when the pandemic happened, we felt we couldn’t live in the city because Juli has asthma and it would be too dangerous. We negotiated out of our lease (don’t ask) and we’ve lived upstate ever since. But last Tuesday, we moved back to the Upper West Side. My friends Paul Castree and Andrea Martin helped us unpack and figure out where the furniture should go. If you don’t know, besides being a Tony and Emmy award winner, Andrea has amazing taste and can really figure out how to make a room look fantastic. However, she is very opinionated. I remember coming home one day while she was decorating our last apartment and looking in the garbage outside only to see several things I had recently purchased, buried in the trash can. I thought it was a mistake and asked if I could keep them and the response was “No, dear.” Regardless, the place looks great and it’s so nice to be able to walk to the gym or Starbucks or the grocery store. But, in typical UWS fashion, I bought a dozen eggs and they were almost twelve dollars. Those are some fancy chickens.

The hilarious/mortifying part came when I was getting equipment for our internet at the Spectrum store. I was talking to the man behind the counter and waiting while he filled stuff out. Suddenly, he looked at me and asked, “Have I seen you on Broadway?” I flipped out. The fact that he could recognize me underneath a mask? Amazing! I yelled, “Yes!” with pride yet humility. It was a perfect welcome back to NYC. #StillGotIt. Well, as I was preparing to answer his various questions about whatever show he saw me in (“it was extremely fun, but tiring. I mean 8 shows a week really takes a toll, etc.”), he muttered, “Oh, it’s just because you were humming, I was like ‘have I seen you on Broadway?’ I was joking.” So… welcome back to NYC.

Beth Leavel and Seth Courtesy of Seth Rudetsky

Anyhoo, I was in Provincetown over the weekend with the amazing Beth Leavel. She brought down the house with 11 o’clock number after 11 o’clock number. She told us about the recent workshop for The Devil Wears Prada musical where she’s playing Miranda Priestly. She’s very happy that the entire creative team is women! And she’s thrilled that she gets to bust a move because the choreographer works with Beyoncé. And when Beth met the costumer, she told me she felt like she was meeting her scene partner. Those costumes will inform so much! Right now, the big question is her hair. Will it be a la Meryl Streep in the film or something completely different? I’ll get more deets when she comes on Seth’s Big Fat Broadway Cruise in January to the Caribbean because it will be after her next workshop.

She talked about the day of the Tony Awards for Drowsy Chaperone and how Sutton Foster did her big number. However, even though it was Sutton’s song, the whole cast came out at the end and, on the button, they had to hit a pose with their hands forward. Well, during the dress rehearsal that morning, when her hands went forward, they broke the beaded necklace she was wearing. The entire floor was covered in marbles and Beth immediately dropped down to pick them up. Well, the stage manager was yelling for her to clear because the next cast had to come. To her horror, Beth looked in the wings and saw the entire cast of Sweeney Todd. She was panicked because they were entering the stage covered in slippery marble-like beads. And it was an entrance made in the dark! She was forced to clear the stage and wasn’t able to see them enter and therefore spent the entire in a panic that she had killed Patti LuPone. Well, it all worked out: Patti lived and Beth won the Tony. And ever since then, she’s carried one of the beads for luck. In her bra—seriously! She brought it out onstage. Here’s the performance without the necklace break.

Marilyn Maye Joseph Marzullo/WENN

More about Provincetown: I saw the incredible Marilyn Maye (with the great Billy Stritch as her music director) at the Art House and I was so blown away. Sometimes people say “she’s so amazing for being 93 years old.” No! She’s so amazing. Period. So musical, so entertaining, such amazing acting chops and so funny. Her show was fantastic. In terms of her comedy, she was talking about how her Mom wanted her to be a singer and how great it was because her Mom played piano. “So, growing up, I always had an accompanist.” She then glared in Billy’s direction “…for free.” Here’s just a snippet of her show. Check out for future dates (including Feinstein’s/54 Below).

And finally, you all know I’m obsessed with disasters (hence I co-wrote the show Disaster! which, by the way, is starting a run in Wichita, Kansas at Roxy’s Downtown Theater). Anyhoo… I lived through a domestic one in our new apartment. We were so thrilled when we found out we’d have something we’ve never had a before: a washer/dryer! They did the installation on Tuesday and James immediately put in a wash. After a while, the washer started making a crazy loud noise. Like crazy loud. We opened the closet where they were stacked and saw that both the washer/dryer had shifted all the way across the floor. Weird! We unplugged it and called the plumber. He came, reset it up and tested it. He then told us it was fixed… but we noticed he didn’t test it with any clothes in it. We asked him if maybe he should try it once with clothes and he assured us it was fine. Ok… we put clothes back in and, sure enough, we started hearing the crazy loud sound again . James felt we should videotape to show the plumber what it was like and…hoo boy. Suffice it to say, it got crazier than we imagined. (Note: Our doggies are in crates still as they recover from ACL surgery. Poor Mandy was so scared she broke out of her crate. You can kinda see it at the bottom of the video.) End of story: we sent out our laundry. Peace out!

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