Richard Seff is a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration. He’s also an actor, agent, playwright, radio ‘personality,’ book writer of a wonderful Americana musical called Shine!, and a first class mensch. When it comes to theatre he has seen it all.
I first met Dick Seff in front of the marquee at the Biltmore Theatre (now called The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre) before the 2 PM performance of the short-lived musical called LoveMusik on Wednesday, May 2, 2007. Being the schmoozer I am I couldn’t help but to strike up a conversation with this amiable man who all the ushers and House Manager would soon greet him with, “How are you Mr. Seff? So nice to see you!”And two of them thanked him for helping them with their careers.
As I shook his hand and introduced myself he said, “I am Richard Seff and I have been in the theater business for many decades and I just wrote my memoirs called Supporting Player: My Life Upon The Wicked Stage and I need to sell some books.” And he pulled out his business card and gave it to me. I told him that I did interviews and recorded podcasts for DC Theatre Scene where I had a column called Theatre Schmooze, and he asked me if I would be interested in interviewing him. I called my editor Lorraine Treanor who said, “Dick Seff? He helped create the Golden Age of Broadway. Go for it!” And I did.
I was so honored that his ‘legend’ wanted to sit down with me and record an interview-which later became two of the most enjoyable and wonderful interviews I have ever recorded.
After much nudging Richard agreed to start writing reviews and articles for DC Theatre Scene and ‘NY Theatre Buzz” was born, and Richard has been writing reviews ever since. And we have been friends ever since-a friendship I will cherish forever.
Now Richard has a new book (watch his recent appearance on Theater Talk below to learn how ‘new’ it really is) that takes place during the era when radio was king and the television set wasn’t occupying many Americans’ homes-yet. It’s called Take a Giant Step: A Romance in Radio. It’s sweet and fun and romantic. I hope you make time to read it. It will put several smiles on your face.
This is from Richard’s website:
Richard Seff remembers the excitement of his early days in the radio industry, when 85 million radios were blaring away in American homes, while a mere 1.3 million TV sets were moving in. Everyone in the nation turned those AM dials seeking financial advice, weather reports, news of the world, news of the city, mood music, heavy and light drama; they could even have the comic strips read to them by the Mayor of New York. Many actors did their best acting only from the neck up, and some became well paid stars, who never needed to sign an autograph because no one had a clue what they looked like!
Richard Seff was there, he was one of them, as Bruce Bigby, a young millionaire on the daytime serial The Brighter Day in which his nine month marriage to Althea Dennis ended abruptly when a slight cough developed into an unnamed terminal disease. All this and more is told in a comical voice that pokes fun at the absurdities and the power plays. Though everything in the book could have happened, a clerk in a hardware store may in fact have been an office boy in an under garment showroom, a pretentious understudy may actually have been a woman who had changed her family name to one of her own creation, a raffle ticket may have won its winner a toaster instead of a kayak. Come join Alice and Harold in the Wonderland of Radio.