I am such a fan girl when it comes to Seth Rudetsky. Who knew? Hugh Jackman and Seth Rudetsky -- Wolverine's claws come out to fight bad guys, Seth's get sharp when he sees performers performing badly. Lucky for us, he likes to share.
He left the folks at City Theatre's Lester Hamburg Studio Theatre in stitches Friday night with "Seth's Big Fat '70s Show," mostly a scathing indictment of "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour," which ran for nine episodes in that era. He got a hold of all nine episodes and watches them endlessly, finding uproarious material in every scene. How someone or someones thought it was a good idea to take the actors who played the Brady family and have them sing and dance, variety-show style, while also integrating story lines (minus Jan, replaced by Faux Jan) is beyond him or anyone with taste. For instance, Greg (Barry Williams) wanting to leave home became a creepy duet of ... can't say it. Seth has you guess one of the songs, while giving you the background of Williams and his crush on Brady mom Florence Henderson. Ewwwww ... hahaha. So funny and undeniable when Seth says it.
He opens with a clip of variety shows gone right -- a duet of a 20-something Barbara Steisand and host Judy Garland singing and having fun. But it come with a warning: "This is the last good clip you'll see tonight."
As the credits roll, Seth looks for someone to blame for the comedy that's only funny when Seth points out that it is not funny at all. He comes to a familiar name and cries, "J'accuse!"
Like "Seth's Big Fat Broadway Show" that he brought to City last year, in which he deconstructs the vocal talents of divas and wannabes (Patti LuPone's Evita vs. Madonna's, for example), "The '70s Show" is all in the details, plus the conversations he's had with some of the actors while showing them clips. Florence Henderson is shown slipping on stage during a live number, and he found out from her it had something to do with the previous act on that same stage ... I'll let Seth tell you. He's funnier.
I attended Friday night with colleagues Maria Sciullo, Erich Schwartzel and Molly Born, and Erich got called up to participate (that's him, far right) in a number where Seth leads his own Brady six (does that make him Ann B. Davis?) while a clip of the Bradys plays in the background. He's got the moves, and a grand time was had by all. Seth pointed out a few times what a knowledgable audience Pittsburghers can be, answering most of his trivia questions instantly. You go, Pittsburgh.
Seth occasionally goes to the piano or busts a move, and you remember he's not just an observational comedian, but a great pianist who played in Broadway orchestras and has accompanied some of the best vocal talents of our time. He has a Web channel, SethTV.com, hosts On Broadway for satellite radio, writes books and generally has a project going ever minute of the day. His insatiable need to dig out the details is our good fortune.
Brav-ah to City for getting all of the projection cues; there are a many, and for bringing Seth Rudetsky back to the South Side to cheer us up with bad weather on the way. And he doesn't just mock the Brady clan or the Osmonds or Donnie & Marie or the disco beat the '70s forced on so many innocent songs. He points out Henderson's talents as a singer and pokes fun at himself, too. I'm still chuckling now, just thinking of the Brady hour's awful dancing swimmers Seth has dubbed "swancers." How can you not smile at that?
There are three more shows, today at 5:30 and 9 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday; 412-431-CITY (2489) or citytheatrecompany.org.
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