Election Day arrived and Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley weren’t far behind.
The married duo and the engine behind the pandemic series Stars in the House mounted their most ambitious event of the year today with a 10-hour “Vote-a-Thon” in support of the Actors Fund. It kicked off early, at 9 a.m. ET, and continues through 7 p.m. and features well-known stars of stage and screen alongside voter interviews and poll workers from the Poll Hero Project as a way to entertain, inspire and educate.
“This is going to be a mishmash of all sorts of wonderful things,” Wesley said in opening the live show that streamed on the Stars in the House YouTube channel in three parts thus far. And it was.
The “Vote-a-Thon” featured live interviews, performances and clips from various shows including their Concert for America. The latter helped kick off the show courtesy of a clip from Maureen McGovern singing “The Morning After” in 2017. Wesley called it “the perfect song to start the day.”
Shortly after, Tony Award winner Alice Ripley appeared alongside Eric from #SingingOnQueue (a movement to entertainment voters in line) to perform a rendition of “American Pie.” A parade of stars followed to join Rudetsky and Wesley on the live stream, among them Sean Hayes, Martin Short, Ben Stiller, Josh Groban, Laurie Metcalf, Victor Garber, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, Andrea Martin, Chita Rivera, Betty Buckley, Laura Bell Bundy, Rosie Perez, Darius de Haas, Gavin Creel, Laura Benanti, Bellamy Young, Marcia Cross, Jessie Mueller, Megan Hilty, Jeremy Jordan, March Shaiman, Vanessa Williams, Adam Pascal, Judy Kuhn, Kelli O’Hara and many others.
A touching moment came when Annette Bening joined the show. After dishing on her pandemic reading (everything from Roman history to James Baldwin), she was asked to read some of the latest donations to the Actors Fund courtesy of Stars in the House.
Bening became emotional and fought back tears as she put into words the impact Rudetsky, Wesley and their Stars in the House have had since they debuted the show in March. “Thank you to each of you,” she said, wiping away tears. “The spirit that you’ve brought to this show from the beginning, it’s so human and makes everybody want to be a part of it.”
Bening then read a list of states that allow for same-day voter registration before saying that once she logged off she was going to resume phone banking duties. “We have a lot of reasons to be hopeful, we really do,” said Bening, who also described herself as an insane baseball fan who could finally celebrate a World Series victory for her beloved Los Angeles Dodgers. “But we need everybody enlisted today, and I know everybody already knows that. It’s been said a million times but let’s say it a million in one times.”
Rudetsky and Wesley then said something they had not yet said before by reading an email from the Library of Congress that informed them that their Stars in the House website had been selected for preservation by the institution as a cultural artifact of the current time. “That is beautiful, congratulations,” Bening said. “You’re making history.”
The “Vote-a-Thon” live streams are below.