Vanessa Williams, multi-faceted star of Broadway, film, music videos and television, brings her award-winning talents to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 7, at 8 p.m.
She and pianist/commentator Seth Rudetsky will perform songs from the great musicals, interspersed with a candid interview and commentary as part of the series “Mark Cortale’s Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts” at the Center’s Virginia G. Piper Theater.
Williams, who last performed at the Center in 2015, is one of the most respected performers in entertainment today. She has sold more than four million albums worldwide, and her acting skills have earned widespread critical praise, including a Golden Globe, a Grammy and an Oscar for “Best Original Song” for her platinum single, “Colors of the Wind” from the Disney film Pocahontas.
In 1994, Williams took Broadway by storm when she replaced Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman (“Whenever she’s onstage, the temperature in the Broadhurst Theater shoots up about 20 degrees.” — The New York Times), and she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as the Witch in the revival of Into the Woods (“The most wickedly appealing witch it’s possible to imagine.” — Variety). In 2013, she starred as Jessie Mae Watts in the Tony-nominated play, The Trip to Bountiful. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role as diva Wilhelmina Slater on ABC’s Ugly Betty.
She is also an author whose well-received 2012 memoir, “You Have No Idea,” written with her mother, Helen, explores the ups and downs of fame, Hollywood, love and loss. And she branched out into clothing design with her V. by Vanessa Williams line on Evine.
A strong advocate for equal rights, especially concerning the gay community and minorities, Williams was honored in 2008 with the Human Rights Campaign Ally for Equality Award for her humanitarian contributions.
Seth Rudetsky was born in the town of North Woodmere on Long Island, New York, and graduated with a degree in piano performance from Oberlin College in 1988. He then launched a career as pit pianist for such shows as Ragtime, Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera. He found a knack for commentary, and expanded his career to include arts broadcast journalism, with two shows on Sirius XM that feature interviews with major Broadway stars, and deconstructions of major musicals: Seth’s Big Fat Broadway and Seth Speaks. He also writes the Onstage & Backstage column for Playbill magazine, and is a composer, with the score for the musical, Disaster!, to his credit.
In June of 2016, Rudetsky and his husband, James Wesley, co-produced a recording of “What The World Needs Now” with Idina Menzel, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Carole King and Audra McDonald. The song went to No. 1 on iTunes, and has raised more than $100,000 to benefit the Orlando nightclub shooting victims. On Inauguration Day 2017, the couple started Concert For America, an evening of entertainment with stars of film, television, music, comedy and Broadway, raising funds for five national organizations working to protect civil rights.