There are other records. Like the funds raised. Like the Drama Desk award and the award for service from the Museum of the City of New York. The Library of Congress has selected the series for its coronavirus web archive.
And then, more nebulously, there is the consolation it continues to provide. “I can’t tell you how many people that I know that have told me this has gotten them through this pandemic,” Brian Stokes Mitchell, the chairman of the Actors Fund said. “They’re really doing a great mitzvah.”
‘One can only give so much’
For the first couple of months, Rudetsky and Wesley did two shows every day, which didn’t leave time for much else. “I am a little bit jealous of our friends who are like, ‘I’ve written three plays during the pandemic,’” Wesley said.
“Or baked bread,” Rudetsky added.
Some of their colleagues have worried about their workload. Bening has even called them to make sure they are OK. “I was just checking in because one can only give so much,” she said. And in May, they did transition from 14 shows per week to a vastly saner six, which includes occasional guest hosts. But only because their matinees weren’t receiving as many views or raising as much money.
“I kind of kept fighting it,” Rudetsky said. “I was like, ‘Some people need to watch every day.’ And James was like, ‘This is crazy. They can watch the repeats.’ ” (They can, via the YouTube channel.)
When will “Stars in the House” end? “Knowing the two of them, I could not put any put any limits on it,” Mitchell said. “This could go on for the rest of their lives for all we know.”
Rudetsky had a slightly more reasonable limit in mind. “Look, this clown said we’re doing it till Broadway comes back,” he said, gesturing toward Wesley. “And I feel like we can’t go back on our word.” So that means at least five more months of jokes, songs, ’80s TV reunions and amiable bickering.
They had a terrific show planned for Christmas, Wesley wrote in an email a week after the interview. And others for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. “We feel it’s important to give folks a place of community they can turn to during the holidays,” he wrote. “Plus, what else would we be doing?”