That’s the best way to describe Seattle performer Sarah Rudinoff.
On a recent late winter morning, Rudinoff and accompanist Nathan Young stand around a scuffed-up piano in a nondescript rehearsal room in the bowels of the contemporary performance space On the Boards.
With a brief instrumental flourish from Young, Rudinoff launches into a sultry cabaret ballad. Her resonant alto voice doesn’t betray a hint of the cold she’s fighting, or that it’s only 10 in the morning, a most un-cabaret-like time of day.
Rudinoff is at On the Boards to rehearse her newest one-woman show, “NowNowNow.” She calls it a rumination on what it means to be a “three dimensional person in the era of two dimensional” media. This is the third solo autobiographical work Rudinoff has created so far; she’s been writing and refining it for several years.
Rudinoff has wanted to perform ever since her childhood in Hawaii.
“That’s just what I wanted to do,” she reflects. “I always could sing and be funny. But I also wanted to be a serious Shakespearean actor. My mother said, ‘You’re Bette Midler, stop!’”
Rudinoff can present herself in the same brassy, bawdy way as Midler, a fellow Hawaiian. But when she was younger, Rudinoff didn’t appreciate her ability to belt out a song.
“As I got older, I realized there’s nothing wrong in embracing what I naturally do,” she says. Which is why she decided in her 20s to move to New York to try to make it in musical theater.
Ultimately, Rudinoff decided a personal life was just as important as her professional ambitions. She moved back to Seattle to be near her friends and closer to her family in Hawaii.
It turns out Seattle was the perfect place for Rudinoff to develop her artistic passions.
“Because you can’t make a full-time living here, people have to broaden what they do,” Rudinoff explains. “There’s a lot more cross section of artists working together.”
Dancers collaborate with dramatic actors; rock musicians sing with musical theater artists. Rudinoff did all that and more.
Several years ago, Rudinoff was recognized for her talents with a Genius award from the weekly alternative paper, The Stranger. It came with a $5,000 prize.
Although it wasn't enough money for Rudinoff to quit her day job selling real estate, it did raise her mainstream profile.
These days you'll find her performing in venues across the city. Earlier this winter, Rudinoff was featured in the 5th Avenue Theater’s successful production of the musical comedy, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” After a two-week run of her solo work, “NowNowNow,” Rudinoff says she’ll return to a musical piece later this spring. She says it features songs by Led Zeppelin.
You can see Rudinoff’s “NowNowNow” March 24-April 3 at On the Boards.