An Interview with actor/author Richard Seff
by Joel Markowitz
Shown here: A lifetime on the stage in headshots.
From his memoir Supporting Player: My Life Upon the Wicked Stage
I met Richard Seff on Wednesday, May 2, 2007, outside the Biltmore Theatre, before the matinee of Love Musik. We schmoozed about the show and theatre in general, and there was something about his gentle manner that made me want to podcast him. Here was a legend of NYC theatre who had just written his memoir – and he was trying to sell the book to me and everyone around him. We talked about meeting at a later date for an interview on my next trip. After the show, Richard told me that he wasn’t too impressed with Love Musik . I knew then that I had to get this man to sit down and tell me his story.
We exchanged emails and on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 6:15 PM, I recorded these two fascinating podcasts with this wonderful man at his lovely Upper Eastside penthouse. I hope you enjoy them.
Who is this man who wrote this memoir called -Supporting Player: My Life Upon The Wicked Stage? And how wicked was and is the theatre?
Richard Seff‘s professional debut was in 1946 and he last performed on the stage in 2006. After a long run on Broadway starring in the prize winning Darkness At Noon with Claude Rains (who won the Tony for Best Actor in a Play for his performance), and then touring around the country with the show with Edward G. Robinson, Mr. Seff became a theatrical agent, representing numerous artists in musical theatre.
Richard left the talent agency in 1974 and returned to the stage. In the 30 years since, he’s appeared in 25 plays and won the Carbonell Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his performance in Angels Fall. He’s been in 7 feature films, where he has acted with Jason Robards, Ralph Fiennes, Christine Lahti, Christopher Reeve, Richard Thomas, William Hurt, Judd Hirsch, Linda Hunt, and James Woods.
He has also appeared in over 50 television series, soap operas, TV films and mini-series. He is the author of the Broadway play Paris Is Out!. The musical Shine! for which he wrote the book, won a National Music Theatre Network Award in 2001 and has been published by Samuel French, Inc. and recorded by Original Cast Records.
In the first of our two part discussion. Richard talks about his life as an actor from his first stint on the stage, to Broadway, to touring around the country, to being the theatrical agent to Kander and Ebb and Chita Rivera, to becoming a supporting player in film and televison and then his return to the NYC stage. It’s one helluva story! Listen here. (Run time: 16:12)
Our conversation then continued to the state of musical theatre today. You won’t want to miss this one! (Run time: 10:50)
I love this book and think you may too.
SUPPORTING PLAYER: My Life Upon The Wicked Stage by Richard Seff; Trade Paperback; $24.99; 484 pages; Cloth Hardback; $34.99; 484 pages;
The new book can be purchased at major bookstores; and at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/; Barnes & Noble http://www.bn.com/; Borders http://www.borders.com/; as well as at the The Drama Book Shop (in New York City) or at Xlibris (888) 795-4274 x876 .
richard Seff says
It may seem odd for an author to review his own podcast but I must compliment Joel Markowitz for the great interview. He was prepared, he had clearly read and absorbed my book and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him. I’ve done about 30 radio interviews, and he gets the Emmy (or is it the Peabody?) for the best one. I hope we intrigued those of you who are reading this to come along with me on my ride through 60 years of theatre on the Great White Way. If you’re curious to learn more about it, log on to http://www.richardseff.com. Gratefully, Richard Seff .
Great interview, Joel. Inspiring. Richard Seff reminds us that acting is teamwork and we often forget the team players. I love his story about becoming an actor at age six. And what he says about if you’ve liked your life, write it. Sounds as if there’s a message for everyone in his book about life beyond the theater! Thank you. Rosalind Lacy MacLennan