ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Wedding Bells for Seth and James
By Seth Rudetsky
A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.
It's official! James and I got married last week and it was amazing. Before wedding details, I thought I'd give a little history first. James and I met almost six years ago after my long-term relationship had ended. Right after the break-up, I immediately joined every single dating site possible (Match.com, Jdate.com, OKcupid.com, DesperateAndAging.com, etc…). I had been off the dating market for ten years and planned on spending the next year making up for it. I couldn't wait to have non-stop dates with all different people and was elated when I got an email from DJ Salisbury (a sassy director and choreographer) who wrote that he had seen my dating profile on Match.com and recognized my name from "the business." He then invited me to a game night for singles! I love games so I immediately said yes. It was at a Chelsea restaurant and there were around eight other guys there. Frankly, I was interested in every single one and planned on asking them all out (see DesperateAndAging.com).
Meanwhile, James had just moved back to NYC from Texas with his recently adopted daughter. He was raising her as a single dad. Since it was Christmas time, his mom was visiting, and that allowed him to have a much-needed night out at a movie. Afterwards he stopped by the game night just as we started playing "Apples to Apples," a game where everyone has cards that contain lots of different random nouns, like "The First Day of School," "Madonna" or "The Cold War." Then one person who's the main player for that round puts down an adjective like "Ugly" or "Distressing" and everyone else puts down the card from their hand they think most describes that adjective. The main player then chooses one card he thinks is the most appropriate adjective. The adjective James put down was "important" and I chose the card from my hand that said "Israel." James looked through all the nouns in the pile and rejected mine. I immediately said, "Who's the anti-Semite that just joined the game?" Of course, that could have alienated him, but instead he laughed. Brava for getting my alienating sense of humor! After the game, he mentioned that he had a daughter and I recommended that they come on the rFamily Cruise for gay parents and their kids. Five days later, on New Year's Eve, I emailed him and asked if he had looked into the cruise. He wrote me back a really nice four-paragraph email, and since I was in a very "I'm-going-to-date-everybody" period, I asked him out. At that point, I just assumed he'd be one of the many, many people I'd bedating that year.
We met at Café LaFortuna on West 71st Street and when he walked in, he was carrying a book on how to be more proactive promoting social justice. Uh-oh. Tugging at my liberal heart strings. I refused to be too interested because I had a year of playing the field to look forward to. We had a very nice time and that night he wrote me another very sweet email. Later on my mom called me and told me that she couldn't come into the city the next day to see the Les Miz matinee like we had planned. I knew James would want to go, but thought it was too soon to see him again. Finally, I ignored the age-old advice I've read in numerous Cosmo articles ("Don't Call Him For At Least 24 Hours!") and invited him to Les Miz. Afterwards, I took him backstage and Norm Lewis (who was playing Javert) kept giving me eyes with the subtext of "Brava on the new boyfriend!" I kept glaring back, trying to convey "Cut! He is not my boyfriend. He is one of many boyfriends I plan on having for the next 12 months!"
James and I had two more dates, and soon I was a combination of elated and devastated. Elated because I knew I found someone I wanted to be with forever and devastated because I never got my year of starring in The Best Little Whorehouse on the Upper West Side.
A few years later, we got engaged but wanted to wait until it was legal in NYC. When it finally became legal, our ADD set in and we could not figure when to have the wedding. We were completely overwhelmed by the planning, even with the simplest of what date to get married; First night we met? First official date? Date we got engaged? Finally, while eating breakfast at Fairway, a couple of weeks ago, James suggested we just do it at City Hall ASAP and go right on a honeymoon. I checked my calendar for a four-day period I'd have free and we decided we'd get married on Monday, Oct. 15 and then take a honeymoon through Thursday night. On Monday we got up super early and we both played out our most annoying aspects. First, we headed down to City Hall…45 minutes later than we planned on leaving. Then, when we got there, I told James to go ahead without me and get on line at the marriage bureau with Juli because I had something very important to do: order a grande iced soy latte at Starbucks. Of course, when James got to the head of the line at the marriage bureau I was nowhere to be found and the man at the check-in counter was having a fit. Apparently, for some strange reason, in order to for two people to get married, both people have to be there.
Finally, I sauntered over with my iced latte and tried to avoid the obvious second thoughts that were clearly readable in James' eyes. Then as we waited to go into the marriage room, James went into a panic because he couldn't find the marriage vows he had written the night before. I tried to force myself not to say, "You constantly, constantly, constantly lose things," and succeeded. But I couldn't help a few involuntary eye-rolls and judgmental shakes of my head. Hopefully, he thought they were cute. After around 20 minutes we got called into the room for the ceremony and, typical me, I decided to take that opportunity to look for someone to videotape the ceremony. That's right, I waited until the moment the ceremony was about to begin to figure out how to get it videotaped. I asked random people in the waiting room and no one was available. James was standing with everyone in the room and suddenly looked around and realized his groom wasn't there. I, yet again sauntered in (this time without coffee), and gave my iPhone to James' mother who volunteered to videotape. Unfortunately, she turned it on right away and the video caught the "charming" comment from James about where I had been and then my defiant justification. Let's just say, I'm glad videos can be edited.
Regardless, the ceremony was so great and both James and I were in tears during our vows. Afterwards, we took photos in front of the amazing/tacky backdrop they have of city hall and then we high-tailed it to breakfast. We sent Juli to school (chaperoned by James' mom) and my mom went back to Long Island. James and I hopped in a cab to JFK and flew right to Portland, ME. We chose that city because it's a short flight and we love the ocean and bed-and-breakfasts. Unfortunately, we didn't realize it's pretty much a summer community. Every day, we'd hear about a place that sounded great, drive an hour to get there and then arrive to see a sign that said, "Thanks for a great season! See you April 4th!" But we still had a fantastic time and did non-stop laughing. The most frustrating thing was the natural disaster that occurred. If you know me, you know that I grew up obsessed with tornados/tsunamis/earthquakes, etc. I've always wanted to experience one...without any of the death/injuries or destruction.
So, last Tuesday we decided to go to a highly recommended (and basically deserted) coffee place. We planned on having dinner at our bed and breakfast at 7:30 but at the last minute postponed it to 8 o'clock. We got back to the bed and breakfast for dinner and found out that Portland had just experienced an earthquake! And we didn't feel a thing! The epicenter was in a neighboring town but the coffee place we had been in didn't shake — it was as immobile as the botoxed forehead of (insert Hollywood actress' name). Yet everybody at the bed and breakfast (where we would have been had we not moved our dinner reservation) couldn't stop talking about how the whole house shook! Then I checked my Facebook page and saw that my friend Elizabeth Higgins put up a status about her whole house shifting during the earthquake. She doesn't live in a neighboring town. She lives in Boston! That's right. She felt it hundreds of miles away and we were two blocks to the left and felt, a la Elaine Stritch, Zip!
When we got back, we saw Closer Than Ever at the York Theatre (for the second time) and it was fabulous. Every lyric by Richard Maltby, Jr. tells a complete story, and the David Shire music is so gorgeous. I went with my friend Jason Little, who first introduced me to Closer Than Ever (back in 1990!) and by the second song in the show, we both had tears streaming down our faces. My two friends Anika Larsen and Marya Grandy (who have both done the rFamily Cruise many times) are the new ladies in the show and they sounded great. If you've never heard either of them, watch this and this. Brava!
On Saturday, we scooted to the East Side and saw Betty Buckley's new show at Feinstein's. It's called The Other Woman: The Vixens of Broadway, and I was so excited when each song began! So many of my faves… "When You're Good To Mama," "I Cain't Say No," "Unusual Way" — and I especially loved "The Miller's Son." Her show only runs one more week, so get thee there!
And finally, for those who are wondering, it really does feel different to be married. There's a delicious feeling of permanence and I love knowing that we chose each other and committed officially. FYI, while we were in Maine, there were political signs everywhere because
Starting Thursday, Oct. 25, through Sunday, I'm Deconstructing '70s Variety Shows at City Theatre in Pittsburgh (click here for info/tix) and on Friday, Nov. 9, I'm Deconstructing Broadway in Orange County, CA. (click for info/tix). Peace out and call me Sadie!
(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.)
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