Filichia Features: Seth Rudetsky Explains It All to You!

Filichia Features: Seth Rudetsky Explains It All to You!

By Peter Filichia on July 12, 2018

The hundred or so students couldn't believe their good fortune. In a few moments, entering the room would be Seth Rudetsky, the wildly popular Broadway radio show host to whom they avidly listen on Sirius Radio.

Yes, he'd actually be here in Lincoln, Nebraska at the International Thespian Festival where these teens had either come to perform musicals or watch them. Now Rudetsky would walk right into This Very Room and teach them how to deliver the type of audition that would get them roles in productions at their schools, community theaters, regional playhouses and -- anything is possible! - on Broadway.

As it turned out, Rudetsky made a modest entrance that showed he needed neither a grand introduction nor entrance applause. Most of the students were so busy chatting with longtime or newfound friends that they didn't even notice he'd arrived until he started talking.

How they listened to this artist who's been in the Broadway trenches (and orchestra pits). Among the highlights of his 90 minutes were:

"You must find 16 bars that will make a director want to applaud when you finish -- sixteen bars that'll show him or her so many aspects of you that set you apart from everybody else. You have to make such an impression that directors will feel as if they've heard the whole song."

"Not every serious song needs to be sung as a total downer. Look for the dark humor within it."

"Find a song that shows vulnerability as well as confidence. For example, Kander and Ebb's song 'Maybe This Time' which they put into the movie of Cabaret allowed Liza Minnelli to show both emotions."

"People say not to sing anything by Sondheim, but there's no rule that says you can't."

"Be on the same eye-level as the director you're singing to."

"Many people sing a great song but in the wrong key. Don't just go with the one that's on the sheet music. Experiment and find the key that's really the right one for you."

"You show a lack of imagination if you sing one of the same four songs that everyone else is singing. 'Gimme, Gimme' is one that's very overused now."

(That reminded me of the anguish each secretary felt in How to Succeed when every woman chose the same dress to wear to the office party. Moral of the story: Don't "wear" the same song as everyone else.)

"Before you start singing, don't tell the director and everyone else at the table 'Hi, my name is Maggie.' They have your picture and resume and know who you are."

"When picking a comedy song, find one that also shows you have a good voice -- like 'Adelaide's Lament,' which gives you plenty of chances to be funny, but also has that 'BAD bad cold' finish that will show you can sing, too. You have to show off your range as well as your personality."

"There are many, many factors in getting a job from an audition, so if you make a mistake, it won't be held against you if you show them you have the other things they're looking for. Don't even be afraid to stop and start over if you feel you need to."

"Get a song that shows your youth and that you have your whole life ahead of you. Do not pick 'No Time at All' from Pippin which was written for a 66-year old woman and told about her long life. I actually know a young man who did!"

"Don't put plastic covers over your sheet music, because an overhead light will cause a glare and keep the pianist from seeing important notes and chords. And don't mark up the sheet music with all these notations because they'll make the job harder for the pianist. In the end, you're the one who's going to look bad."

What might have been Rudetsky's best advice of all? "If you just be yourself, you're automatically unique." Rudetsky has proved that time and many times again. Here's betting that he convinced some students to ardently follow his lead. He didn't get entrance applause when he sauntered in, but he received titanic applause when he finished. And isn't that the more valuable response to receive?

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You may e-mail Peter at Check out his weekly column each Monday at and Tuesday at . His book, The Great Parade: Broadway's Astonishing, Never-To-Be Forgotten 1963-1964 Season is now available at