ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Memories of Easter Bonnets Past

By Seth Rudetsky
22 Apr 2013

Seth with Billy Porter

Chris and I did a lot more numbers after that, but we both wound up getting too busy to keep 'em coming. Of course, his version of being too busy includes winning a Tony Award last year for Newsies and mine includes watching a Hulu Plus maration of "The Amazing Race." Regardless, they're both valid. This opening number is the first I've written in years, and I'm so excited to be back!

This weekend I finally began catching up on my Broadway viewing and finally saw Cinderella. That cast is so talented! So many great character actors doing so much classic comedy. I'm vying to replace Ann Harada, who has one of those roles where you only have laugh lines. Delish. Yet again, I'm completely obsessed with Santino Fontana. How dare he be such a great actor in The Importance of Being Earnest and then have such an amazing singing voice. I've had it. On Sunday I took my sister and Mom to see Kinky Boots. All I can say after seeing Billy Porter front and center, showing off all of his talents (acting, singing and full-out dancing) is "It's about time!" We met in 1989 doing Dreamgirls in summer stock. I had just graduated college and he had two years left. A year later, he took off a day from Carnegie-Mellon to come to NYC for a Miss Saigon open call. I sat with him in the Equity lounge 'til they let him sing (he was non-Equity, which means you wait forever to get seen if you even get seen). Finally he went in and I played. That led to him getting cast in his first Broadway show before he even graduated college! Back then, there was another Billy Porter in Equity and another William Porter. So he had to go by the headachey "W. Ellis Porter." People thought that was his name, so there were many awkward moments of him completely not responding to someone at rehearsal yelling, "W. Ellis! W. Ellis!" Thankfully, he was able to change it to Billy after a few years. Anyhoo, today he was nominated for an Outer Critics Award and I'm hoping this will be one of many nominations. Here's a clip of him playing of Jimmy Early in my Actors Fund Dreamgirls concert opposite Audra McDonald, Heather Headley and Lillias White. Work!

And, finally, the Megan Mullally concert I filmed this summer is available! It's me and Megan for more than an hour of her hilarity and high belting. Watch the preview and get ye olde concert on SethTV.com. Peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)