No one deconstructs musical theatre songs like Seth Rudetsky does. Not only is he incredibly astute to all the different layers packed within a song, but he’s also got such a great personality and sense of humour. I thoroughly enjoy the way he lip-syncs along to the recordings, never fails to point out his favourite vibrato moments (and do the associated hand movement) and makes quirky jokes such as wanting to send his Opening Doors related questions to Sondheim at SweenyTodd5@yahoo.com.
The music in a show can sometimes be the most underrated part of a musical to a theatre audience, simply because it’s difficult to fully appreciate everything that’s going on. In comparison with acting, most people are able to articulate to some degree what they like about an actor’s portrayal in a show; perhaps there is something authentic, unique or truthful about it. I think this is the reason why in critical reviews or social media posts, the actors typically get most of the attention.
But with the music especially what’s going on with the score and orchestrations, unless you have learnt a little bit about music theory, it is possible to only ever have a relatively surface level understanding of what you like about it. But with these deconstructions, Seth helpfully breakdown what can be quite complicated into such accessible terms and why it is particularly creative. As someone who mostly only listens to musical cast recordings, his videos has have been such a gift and have made me enjoy the songs he’s deconstructed so much more. He’s still got it!
Similar to my previous post, I’ve picked out some of my favourite deconstructions below but there are so many other ones I’m obsessed with, including the ones he did for the Legally Blonde series with the crazy long title. Anybody? Nobody.
- Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs Opening Doors
This is one of my favourite videos of his. The song he deconstructs is called Opening Doors from the musical Merrily We Roll Along. The song is great in its own right as a piece of theatre and if it wasn’t for Seth, I wouldn’t have discovered it. It is about the characters’ struggle to pursue careers in Arts in New York. In this particular song, although they have a rough time of it at the start, their optimism and zeitgeist sees them through it all.
The depth of detail Seth is able to draw out from this one song is impressive. The best parallel I can draw is with going to a museum. Sometimes when you see a piece of art you think ‘oh that’s amazing’ and you’d like to know more about it, but your admiration can only go so far when just presented with what’s in front of you. It’s only when you start to uncover some of the detail behind the art, for example when it was created, a bit of the background to who created and why, that the piece becomes a lot more fascinating.
Similarly if I had just heard this song on its own, I probably would have thought this is great and not much more. But learning about the history of the show and unique moments such as the reference to ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ in it for example, it just makes the experience of listening to it so much more enjoyable. Especially seeing the joy with which Seth talks about it, it’s contagious.
- Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs Evita
My musical theory knowledge is fairly limited. Although I learnt the Double Bass to Grade 5, I’ve mostly forgotten most of what I learnt. But even with this limited knowledge, I quite simply had no idea just how complex and brilliant the score of Evita is and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber can be until this video.
- Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs Heaven on Their Minds
Seth’s sense of humour is so unique and I can’t imagine anyone else taking apart this crazy version of Heaven On Their Mind in such detail.
- Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs I Got Love
Another song which I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for Seth. Melba Moore’s voice is amazing. Don’t need to say much more, just watch.
- Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs You’ve Got Possibilities
I didn’t know how much a liquid u could add to a song. Also when the violins come in, I also have to air violin now. So many other delicious moments in the song, especially the rock moment for two measures. I have repeated this song a crazy amount of times.
- Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs Waving Through A Window, Dear Evan Hansen
Before watching this deconstruction, I was fairly enamoured with this song already. But I love how Seth unpacks so much within it such as the Wicked references and the fluidity of Ben Platt’s riffs. Brava!
So once again thank you Seth for sharing your insight into these shows it’s been wonderful to learn so much from you.