Call Answered: 54 Below Interview: Seth Sikes Is Still Singing Judy Garland
"Call Me Adam" chats with singer and director Seth Sikes about his upcoming 54 Below concert Seth Sikes Is Still Singing Judy Garland on April 16 at 7pm. After two sold-out shows, Seth returns to 54 Below for a third concert celebrating the most beloved songs of Judy Garland, some of them in her key! Click here for tickets!
For more on Seth, follow him on Twitter!
1. You are returning to 54 Below on Thursday, April 16 with your show Seth Sikes Is Still Singing Judy Garland. What are you looking forward to most about your return to 54 Below? Singing several new, fantastic songs with a seven-piece band, some of which are rarely performed. I mean, who gets to sing the best songs in the world with a seven-piece band?
2. What do you like best about performing at 54 Below? It's such a chic room. Patti LuPone has most of the other 7:00 slots the week of my show. Just a few months ago, Lorna Luft (Judy's daughter) sang there. The company makes me feel fancy. Also when I'm standing on stage singing "The Man That Got Away" like Judy does in the night club in A STAR IS BORN, I feel a little bit of cosmic magic.
3. This concert was conceived by you and Tony-Award winning lyricist Lisa Lambert with music direction by Gary Adler and orchestrations by Matt Aument. The evening is directed by Eric Gilliland. How did you come to work with everyone? They're all drinking buddies, song-addicts, and Judy fans, so a lot of the ideas came out of singing together at piano bars and parties. I like to throw piano parties and force everyone to sing. They're all great talents, so I've been in good hands.
4. As the title of the show states, you will once again, be performing an evening of Judy Garland songs. With her vast catalog of music, how did you decide what which songs you wanted to perform? Judy sang pretty much every standard at some point. I wish I could "Sing them all, and stay all night!" In the end, I chose the songs that tug at my heartstrings, songs that I associate with various love affairs and heartbreaks, and of course songs that best show off my voice.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Seth Sikes Is Still Singing Judy Garland? I hope some people who have never heard these songs before will leave interested in this great, old material. And I hope everyone leaves thinking of Judy, because the more we remember someone, the more they're still with us, somehow.
6. As a young child growing up in Paris, Texas, when did you discover Judy Garland? What was it about her that captivated you so much? My aunt had an old VHS tape of SUMMER STOCK. I watched it several times a week and became obsessed with Judy. As a boy I used to dance around singing "Get Happy" which probably embarrassed my dad, who's a baseball coach.
I'd never heard anything like her voice before; I still haven't. And I can't get over it. It's this unexplainably overwhelming emotional reaction that comes over me when she sings. I learned later that a vast amount of other people share this same feeling, but no one has satisfactorily explained to me what it is exactly. When she opens her mouth she also opens a vein.
7. In addition to being a singer, you are also known for your directing work. What do you get from singing that you do not get from directing? You get the spotlight with one and not with the other.
8. Besides Judy Garland, who or what inspired you to become a performer/director? I'm almost embarrassed to say that Liza was also a big inspiration. She represented New York—and show business—and so it was with her in mind that I moved to the city. Sondheim's musicals also changed my life. I guess my idols are almost cliché, but there's a reason why they're cliché: they're geniuses.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Steve Sondheim told me that, in lieu of school, the best way to learn about the theater was to get in the rehearsal room with the best people in the business.
10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer/director?Performing again (after having not been on stage for more than ten years) I have realized that I am just as neurotic and competitive as every other stereotypical crazy singer, at whom I used to roll my eyes. It's terrifying to imagine that you might open your mouth on stage and nothing, or something horrible, will come out. It can make one crazy.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Who could ever stop wishing they could fly?
12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? It's a twist on a SideCar called a TrolleyCar. It has tequila in it, a ZING to it, and makes you get happy. One must drink it wearing periwinkle gloves, like Judy's in "The Trolley Song."
More on Seth:
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).