Last April was the first time I got to interview Seth Sikes when he was making his triumphant return to Feinstein's/54 Below with his show Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland. Well, almost a year later, Seth answered my call again! This time, we are talking about his new show, Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli which will be at Feinstein's/54 Below on Liza's actual 70th Birthday! I love Liza Minnelli. She is an icon. I was lucky enough to see her on Broadway in Liza at the Palace and let me tell you, she was phenomenal! It's a performance that continues to stay with me. So, it's quite exciting to get to interview Seth about this tribute show to one of the greatest living legends!
Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli will be at Feinstein's/54 Below on Saturday, March 12 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!
1. On March 12, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with a brand new show, Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli, in celebration of Liza's 70th birthday. You have already performed several shows celebrating Judy Garland. When did you decide you wanted to create a show paying tribute to Liza? It seems like a natural progression, doesn’t it? Actually, I wasn’t intending to do another tribute to a female legend. After how the Judy concert was received, that idea seemed daunting. But when I realized that Liza’s 70th was approaching it just made sense. And like the first show, which was a love letter (because I love her), so will this one be, because, well, I also happen to really love Liza. Who doesn’t? She’s so great.
2. What was the moment in Liza's career, that made you fall in love with her? In my Judy show I talked about watching Summer Stock over and over on VHS as a kid. I did the same thing with Liza’s Radio City Music Hall concert while I was growing up in Texas. I’d never seen anything even remotely like that before: a live concert with a big band, and those songs and that kind of entertainer. And then, I remember the first thing I ever ordered online was somebody’s blurry copy of a copy of a VHS of Liza with a Z, which basically knocked me to the floor when I first watched it.
3. How did you decide which songs you wanted to include in this show? We’re not done yet. It’s a process. And not a short one. I started by listing the obvious ones that I’ve been dying to sing since I was a kid. And then started listening to every Liza album I could find, and seeing what resonated. I always lean toward the live performances. There’s a vast catalogue there, and I don’t want the show to be a cliché CABARET medley, so I’ve found some more obscure songs I’m excited to try, and some 60’s pop songs, which is not a genre I gravitate toward. I like standards! Anyway, we’ll probably be adding and cutting songs right up to show-time.
4. What song do you wish you could have included, but had to leave on the cutting room floor? I’m not sure that singing "New York, New York" works for this show. It’s almost too-Liza in the same way that "Over the Rainbow" was too-Judy to sing in the previous show. Certain songs you don’t touch. "New York, New York" is fun to hear, but I hope people don’t expect it.
5. In putting this show together, what is something you found out about Liza that we might not know? That her vocal range is superhuman and nearly impossible to match! Seriously, on some of her songs, if you pick the key around a solid final note, good luck singing the first few bars. You’ll be grunting them out. It’s really a huge voice, and an enormous range. I’ve also learned that she made her career happen on her own, with very little help from her parents. She left home at fifteen to make it in NYC, and was determined to be a working actor—not a star. If she had just wanted to be a star she could have stayed in Hollywood and tried to make it in the movies first. But she didn’t. She went straight to the theater and had a Tony Award on her mantle just a few years later. She was relentless.
6. If Liza were to attend this show, on her 70th birthday, what would you give her as a birthday gift (besides this tribute show)? I wouldn’t want to bother her so I’ll give her the gift of privacy. She’s been famous since the day she was born so I can’t imagine she gets much of it.
8. One my favorite songs that Liza Minnelli sings is "Ring Them Bells." If you were to "Ring Them Bells," what would you be ringing them in celebration of? Hopefully that Liza finally receives the Kennedy Center Honor. Most people think she already has it only because it seems ludicrous to think they’ve never honored her. The award celebrates an individual’s contributions to the performing arts. Liza is the performing arts! At this point they should give her the award along with a note of apology for neglecting her for so long.
9. I also love "Say Liza (Liza with a Z)." What is something in your life that people constantly mispronounce? I can’t tell you now, but there’ll be a small homage paid to "Say Liza (Liza with a Z)" in the concert, and I’ll be revealing it then. But the fact that we’re doing that song should give you a hint!
10. My other favorite Liza song is "New York, New York." If you were to "Start spreading the news..." what news would you tell people? That I’m doing a show on March 12th celebrating the music of Liza Minnelli, the world’s greatest living entertainer, and that everybody should come taste the wine, come hear the band, and celebrate her 70th birthday!
Seth Sikes’s directing credits include BUNKED! (Outstanding Musical at the New York Fringe Festival) and The 7th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant. He was the Assistant Director of The Nance (Broadway), Tribes (Off-Broadway), Pageant (Off-Broadway), and Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (at Lincoln Center). As a performer he appeared in Fame on 42ND Street (Off-Broadway). He made his Feinstein’s/54 Below debut with his acclaimed show Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland.