Ten years ago Mark Cortale, producing artistic director of The Art House in Provincetown, produced the most wonderful out-of-the box concerts hosted and music directed by musical theater maestro Seth Rudetsky with Broadway’s biggest stars.
For the holidays, 16 Performances from “The Seth Concert Series” is available on-
“There is such an incredible history of theatre in Provincetown, a place that I am lucky enough to call home,” says Cortale who was an opera singer for twenty years and became a producer to have a unique proximity to the music he adores. “Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill and Susan Glaspell all worked here. When I became producing artistic director of The Art House I was determined to bring Broadway artists back to our community.”
Rather than the typical “This next song is…” canned dialogue in concerts, Rudetsky would interview the stars between songs and get juicy stories about their beginnings, their passions, wigs falling off, crazy auditions and other mishaps that make them human. The shows became adored in Provincetown and featured everyone from Audra McDonald to Patti LuPone to Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker and countless others.
This past May the beloved show went virtual. “The Seth Concert Series” debuted with Tony award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara and each week has been a quarantine staple. The stars share stories about how they got their start, their triumphs, failures and staying sane. In between inspiring and hilarious stories they sing their biggest hits along with songs that are completely unexpected.
“Seth is able to segue these inspiring moments into incredible music performances from these career-altering shows,” says Cortale. Also, what makes the performances extra special is that their cutting edge tech gurus David Katz, Kiran Edwards and Shelley Jenning figured out the technology so Rudetsky could play and the singers could sing at the same time with no delay. It's a feat that is unprecedenced.
And for those craving Broadway, it's a beautiful way to get your fix. “I love hearing about the artists in our series who struggled at certain points in their career but kept at it because of their true love and passion for the work,” observes Cortale. “Rachel Bay Jones left New York for over ten years after some really frustrating auditions. But then she came back to New York City to try again and ended up winning a Tony for “Dear Evan Hansen.” Beth Malone was also ready to leave the business and then she got cast in “Fun Home” in her forties and it changed her life. These revealing and motivational stories are unforgettable.”
Now, in time for the holidays, Cortale and Rudetsky are offering 16 performances from the “The Seth Concert Series,” available on-demand. It's the ultimate holiday bucket list gift. For a limited time, viewers can purchase an entire package of these insider concerts at a discount featuring the concerts of Audra McDonald, Jessie Mueller, Cheyenne Jackson, Liz Callaway, Melissa Errico, Rachel Bay Jones, Karen Olivo, Judy Kuhn, Orfeh and Andy Karl, Beth Leavel, Keala Settle, LaChanze, Beth Malone, and Lillias White.
“The holiday package was definitely motivated by our fans. Since our weekly live show only has one rebroadcast, we have had many requests from viewers who missed some of their favorite artists like Audra McDonald and Jessie Mueller,” says Cortale. “We also have viewers who saw the shows live but wanted an encore presentation.”
Sponsored by BroadwayWorld and StreamYard, these concerts are available through January 3rd and can be purchased individually for a discount of $20 per concert, or as an entire package of 16 for $240. It’s the ultimate priceless holiday gift for any Broadway fan.
“Being able to produce a live weekly show that brings so many legendary Broadway artists into the homes of theater lovers during this very challenging year makes me very proud,” says Cortale. “We all have been so starved for live theater and it's a real privilege to get to produce this series with such amazingly talented performers.”
Cortale shared more:
Jeryl Brunner: What might surprise people about the series?
Mark Cortale: There is virtually no music rehearsal for each concert, just a sound check that die-hard fans are able to attend. We also are the one and only virtual series that has solved the technical challenges involved with live performance that requires two completely different locations for the pianist and the singer. I have to give credit to the magical tech support we receive each week from David Katz, Kiran Edwards, Shelley Jenning and our sensational platform BroadwayWorld.
Jeryl Brunner: What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
Mark Cortale: It’s such a cliche but I love sitting in front of the tree with a fire going and listening to great Christmas music. I just discovered this amazing holiday album that Ella Fitzgerald made with Louis Armstrong and I have been listening to it every day since Thanksgiving.
Jeryl Brunner: Will the series continue in 2021?
Mark Cortale: Absolutely. We are going to keep going until live performances can return safely.
Jeryl Brunner: How do you decide who to present?
Mark Cortale: The majority of the artists involved come from The Art House in Provincetown where I started this series. But our virtual series also gives us a special opportunity to present new artists that we have been unable to program before for various logistical reasons like Lea Salonga, Colin Donnell, Patti Murin and Lillias White.
Jeryl Brunner: How are you staying creatively nourished right now?
Mark Cortale: Working with these incredible artists on "The Seth Series" has kept me creatively nourished. I also recently started a developmental theater lab in Provincetown called "New Works Provincetown." Please check out www.NewWorksProvincetown.com for more information.
Jeryl Brunner: What makes the Seth Concert Series so unique?
Mark Cortale: The one and only Seth Rudetsky. He is not only an incredible pianist but as a host, he is truly hilarious. The stars programmed each week always have a wonderful rapport with Seth. As a viewer you feel as if you are visiting two old friends who are having a great, funny private conversation and also making gorgeous music together.