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Broadway stars join Seth Rudetsky in concert series at Parker Playhouse

Seth Rudetsky’s format for his concert series is irresistible for fans of Broadway. He starts with some dishy conversation with a stage star. When the talk inevitably touches on a show tune he likes, Rudetsky dashes over to the piano and coaxes the performer to belt one out from their Great White Way songbook.

A musical-theater whiz, Rudetsky is the host of the popular “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway” on SiriusXM satellite radio and is the author five books about Broadway. He also co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in the musical “Disaster!” on Broadway.

“The Broadway Concert Series Hosted by Seth Rudetsky” opens Saturday, Jan. 6 with Jeremy Jordan (“Rock of Ages,” “Newsies” “NBC’s “Smash” and CW’s “Supergirl”).

Next will be Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones (“Dear Evan Hansen”) on Friday, Feb. 16.

The series will conclude with two-time Tony winner Christine Ebersole (“War Paint,” “Grey Gardens,” “42nd Street”) on Saturday, March 24.

All the shows will take place at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. Here’s more about the series from an email interview with Rudetsky.

Please tell us something that you can’t wait to spotlight or reveal about Jeremy Jordan?

I don't think people realize what a stunning voice he has. And he's fearless. He goes for high notes over and over again, never seems nervous and always nails them.

What about Rachel Bay Jones, who grew up in Boca Raton?

She was Patti LuPone's understudy! I will make her re-create the terrifying experience of covering such a huge star. Hint: It involves hiding backstage.

What will you get Christine Ebersole to dish about?

Christine not only has one of the most glorious voices on Broadway, she also has some of the most hilarious stories. We will talk about playing the "old lady" on “Ally McBeal” (when she was 40), working opposite Richard Burton, and find out what happened when she actually visited the real Grey Gardens.

Can you also go through each of your guests and tell us one song that you feel must be performed at their Parker Playhouse performance?

Jeremy Jordan does a thrilling version of “Over the Rainbow” that everyone down South needs to hear. I will ask Rachel to re-create her star turn in a regional theater production of “Evita,” where she did the show in English on certain nights and then completely in Spanish. Yes, she's going to sing in both languages in the same song. Plus, I'd love to sing one of the hit songs from “Dear Evan Hansen” that Evan sings. Not only will I have Christine sing her “Grey Gardens” classics, but I'm going to have her sing songs from Broadway shows people don't even realize she did, including “Oklahoma” and “On the 20th Century.”

You have franchised these kind of intimate, Q-and-A concerts in other cities, but I was wondering if there was anything that strikes you as being distinctive about the South Florida audience?

They are a very eager and informed audience. There is no stuffiness from the crowd and they looooove Broadway.

Tell us a little about the show you’re writing now, a murder mystery that takes place in a community theater. Is that accurate?

I was talking to a wonderful Broadway actress in her 50s and she told me that there is a slew of women of that age who want to be in a show and can't find work. There just aren't that many roles for women that age. So it inspired me to write a show about a community theater starring women in their 50s. They're rehearsing a fundraiser for their theater, but right at the beginning of rehearsal, the town matriarch is murdered. All the women are suspects. But the show must go on. So they get questioned while they rehearse. It's a chance for some old-school comedy, great classic Broadway songs and a bigger message about community theater getting the respect it deserves.

The projects you and your husband have worked on for the shooting victims in Orlando and the “Concert for America” series are well-known. Are you two working on any other benefits?

We just finished a year of “Concert for America,” a monthly concert we did across the country in various cities to help five nonprofits being hurt by this [White House] administration. We had a slew of Broadway stars join us, like Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Vanessa Williams, Kelli O'Hara plus amazing TV/film stars like Piper Perabo, Sharon Gless, Ellen Burstyn, Andy Cohen and recording stars like Barry Manilow, Melissa Manchester, Maureen McGovern and Helen Reddy (singing “I Am Woman”). Next, we're going to start doing salons — literally going to people's houses with Broadway stars and performing for a small group to help raise money for various political candidates. We're going around the country, so if you have a house and politician you wanna support, send us an email.

“The Broadway Concert Series Hosted by Seth Rudetsky” opens with Jeremy Jordan at 8 p.m. Jan. 6 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale (in Holiday Park). Tickets cost $37-67 ($123 for VIP tickets with a post-show meet and greet). Three-concert subscriptions cost $96-$303. To order, call 954-462-0222 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.com.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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