Alex Brightman has lived for the theatre since childhood. He hails from California but had grandparents who lived in New Jersey, and so his first experience of live theatre wasn’t a regional theatre but the Broadway production of Cats. Diplomatically, he told The Seth Concert Series that whether he enjoyed the performance wasn’t nearly as important as the whole experience – the busyness of New York City, heading into a theatre auditorium and taking one’s seats amongst so many other people, taking a breather at intermission, and so on.
As a teenager, he relished every opportunity to play in school productions, and without the slightest hint of regret permitted an extract of a recording of a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar to be played to the online audience for this concert. This was definitely a concert for the musical theatre fans – Brightman loves what he does and can’t see himself doing anything else. I’d have liked to have heard a little more about what he’s been getting up to while the theatres remain closed, but there were nonetheless more than enough memories to reminisce over and anecdotes galore to tell.
The only role he was offered, he says, was a part for an episode of a television series called Documentary Now!, a ‘docucomedy’, in which fictional events are portrayed in the style of a documentary. The episode, called ‘Original Cast Album: Co-op’ is a parody of ‘Original Cast Album: Company’, the latter being about the making of the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company. There is a cast recording of the parody available for purchase, and the extract from it performed in this concert is a hoot.
I liked Brightman’s approach to award ceremonies – he didn’t go into the theatre business to compete with others for what some people believe to be ‘best actor’, or ‘best’ anything, for that matter. It would be tempting to think that he may be less philosophical if he had a Tony Award or two (or more) to his name, but I’m not convinced he would be any less stoical. A relatively broad range of showtunes was featured here, including a slightly surprising choice of ‘As Long As You’re Mine’ from Wicked (in which Brightman played Boq). Perhaps more surprising was the omission of a tune from School of Rock, a role in which he workshopped and didn’t expect to be cast as the lead for the Broadway run, having been led to believe the producers were going for a bigger ‘name’ that would fill seats.
Still, this was a good opportunity to get to know one of Broadway’s rising stars – he had only done one previous concert of his own before, which (or so he says) didn’t go too well, though I suspect more than an element of one being one’s own harshest critic is at play there. His debut Broadway show was Glory Days, which did well in Virginia, but the Broadway transfer failed to generate enough sales, such that its press night was also its closing night. It was good grounding, Brightman believes, for his theatrical future, in which the unexpected should only be expected. A fascinating and enjoyable concert.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Alex Brightman (performing January 3, 2021) is a two-time Tony-nominated actor, best known for his star turns in School of Rock and Beetlejuice on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include Glory Days, Wicked, Big Fish, and Matilda. Other stage credits include The History Boys (CTG/Ahmanson Theatre), Nobody Loves You (The Old Globe), Soon (Signature Theatre), and How I Paid For College (The HUB Theatre). He can be seen in the upcoming film, Here Today, starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish. You can also catch Alex this coming October on Netflix’s brand new animated series, Deadendia. Other TV credits include Important Things with Demetri Martin, The Good Fight, Documentary Now!, Teen Titans GO, and this current season of Law & Order: SVU. Musical writing credits include It’s Kind of a Funny Story (music & lyrics by Drew Gasparini) and The Whipping Boy (music & lyrics by Drew Gasparini). His latest play, Everything is Fine was a finalist in ScreenCraft’s “Stage to Screen” script competition and is currently in development.
Mark Cortale Presents
THE SETH CONCERT SERIES – January 2021
ALEX BRIGHTMAN with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, January 3rd at 8PM EST
Monday, January 4th at 3PM EST
WAYNE BRADY with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, January 10th at 8PM EST
Monday, January 11th at 3PM EST
KELLI O’HARA with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, January 17th at 8PM EST
Monday, January 18th at 3PM EST
STEPHANIE J. BLOCK and SEBASTIAN ARCELUS with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, January 24th at 8PM EST
Monday, January 25th at 3PM EST
All tickets available at thesethconcertseries.com