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Entries in Liza Minnelli (7)


Call Answered: Conference Call: Jesse Luttrell & Fred Barton: "Jesse Luttrell Showstopper" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsFred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellI have been Facebook friends with Jesse Luttrell for several years now and he's always been on my radar as someone I have wanted to interview. I have heard many of Fred's great arrangements attending a New York Pops' concert. The fact that I now get to interview them together is icing on a very delicious cake!

Jesse & Fred are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with Jesse Luttrell: SHOWSTOPPER, an unforgettable solo homage to the golden age of American entertainment, unleashing Jesse's shattering voice and theatrical, post-modern vaudevillian style with an evening of treasured swing, big band, and show songs. Jesse Luttrell offers an exciting departure from the traditional evening of standards. SHOWSTOPPER is a high-energy show that includes stellar custom orchestrations by acclaimed New York Pops orchestrator Fred Barton.

Jesse Luttrell: SHOWSTOPPER will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Friday, January 19 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Jesse visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Fred visit and follow him on Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. On January 19 you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Jesse Luttrell: Showstopper. What excites you about this show? 

Jesse Luttrell: I've been doing SHOWSTOPPER for about three years now all over the country and I'm always excited to return to New York and 54 Below where it all began. The audiences in New York are almost always the polar opposite of what you get out of town..and they've known me here for over a decade from my humble beginnings schlepping drinks in the piano bar - so they definitely keep me on my toes!

Fred Barton: Jesse always injects new material into his SHOWSTOPPER show, and I can’t wait to unleash the new stuff – and I can’t wait for my 8-piece Broadway Band to sink their teeth into the new charts I’m whipping up. And of course we’ve got the best of Jesse's "hits," and they’re always a blast to perform.

2. Since this is our first interview together, let's go back to the beginning for a minute. How did you two come to meet?

Jesse Luttrell: I was in a musky basement bar full of drunks singing SWANEE at the top of my lungs and Fred had wandered in that night to see an old friend after making a final pilgrimage to a bar down the street that was closing. Our tastes aligned completely so we started talking about working together - which eventually meant cutting an album and then putting together my solo act several years later.

Fred Barton: My show tune piano bar days were back in the late 1990s. After that, the piano bar world collapsed into mainly rock-pop sing-along stuff. But one night, I heard that Rose’s Turn was closing – the former legendary Duplex, where international superstars such as Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers, and Fred Barton got their start. So I fatefully went down there to pay my last respects. I happened into Marie’s Crisis next door, where I hadn’t been in years, and shortly before 4AM, I happened to see this kid singing a big solo with the most incredible voice I’d heard in years, and with that old-time showbiz THING you just don’t see much anymore. I felt like James Mason in A Star Is Born, standing in the back of a crappy club watching Esther Blodgett toss off a little tune called "The Man That Got Away" as if it were nuthin’. Fred, meet Jesse, Jesse, meet Fred. WHOA. I’m glad I went downtown that night.

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola3. What has made you want to continue to work together?

Jessee Luttrell: There are few arrangers/orchestrators around who understand my needs as a performer.  It helps that Fred and I are cut from the same showbiz cloth, but he also approaches every arrangement from the point of view of an actor. It won't come as a surprise to most when I say I'm a large personality with a big voice - and Fred is able to not only match that in his arrangements, but also he gives me the confidence I need to pull back when I need to.

Fred Barton: We’ve got an exact set of sensibilities, philosophies, and musical tastes in common. This kind of magic collaboration has happened to me maybe three times in my forty years in the biz (I started at 18! I’m still under 60!) – in fact, I even wrote a musical called The Two Svengalis which describes exactly what happens when two people not only complement each other, but bring better than the best out in each other. You can’t bottle, sell, or steal that. In Jesse, I found a partner in crime, a "consort battleship," as Shaw wrote in Pygmalion, who would, could, and will go the distance, not shy away from the possibilities and the challenges of wrestling with one’s own potential and talent. Jesse has one thing that many super-talented people could always use more of – intelligence. He’s the smartest artist I’ve ever worked with, and the street-smarts he’s applied to his performances and his career has made all the difference, for him and for me.

4. What is the most challenging part of your collaboration?

Jesse Luttrell: Having to schlep all the way from Brooklyn to the UWS for our rehearsals. Everything else is buttah.

Fred Barton: It’s all too easy to rest on the laurels, fall into comfort zones and patterns. Every single show, Jesse extends the boundaries and we put ourselves to a higher test. Every arrangement I write HAS to be better than any I’ve done before – I’m compulsive. It can be nerve-wracking, but otherwise, you’re a one-trick pony and people have memorized you before you even open your mouth or given the downbeat. A known quantity, or "brand," to use that dreadful word, can lead to predictability and a typical career, and neither is what Jesse and I have in mind.

Fred Barton with Steven Reineke & The New York Pops5. Now, let's get back to this show. Press notes state that SHOWSTOPPER is "an exciting departure from from the traditional evening of standards." What is the exciting departure you talk about?

Jesse Luttrell: I think when people hear that I sing "standards" they automatically have a picture in their head that I'm going to come out in a conservative suit and curate a polite evening of cabaret, which seems to have become the "industry standard" (whatever that means). I think of myself as more of an entertainer than a docent of the "Great American Songbook." Let's do some terrific songs, get the audience on their feet, and blow the roof off the joint while we're at it. Why not?

Fred Barton: Much as I love what’s now known as "The Great American Songbook," it has taken on connotations of reeling off stuff from the Golden Era, not always with a point of view. Frequently that means it’s either what I call Attack Of The Graverobbers, i.e. Gladys Bubkes Performs An Evening Of Sarah Vaughan or whomever (as if Sarah wrote the songs) – hiding one’s abilities (and limitations) inside the work of a bigger name than anyone could hope to be oneself – or performing the most pretzel-ized, twisted, new-fangled arrangements to try and freshen it up – to which I say, write your own song and leave Gershwin be. In Jesse’s show, as in my symphonic Pops work, I make it my mission to completely inhabit these songs, whether familiar or un-, with our own sensibility, but as if the songwriters are sitting at the piano with me. It’s much harder to honor the original creators of the songs, reflect expertise with their original contexts and values, yet infuse the work with your own sensibility and point of view, than it is to just riff, or copycat.

6. What is the biggest departure you took from your career path because you wanted to try something else?

Jesse Luttrell: I started professionally in musicals when I was 16 but as I saw the landscape of Broadway changing my interests shifted intensely to solo/concert performance. I wanted to do my own shows and make my own choices. I remember I had a really great year once playing all my dream roles back to back, but had a huge emotional crash after the last role. I didn't want to go back to chorus work and I didn't know what I wanted to do next so I started going to the piano bars to forget about things for awhile. It took getting a little lost to find out what I really wanted to do.

Fred Barton: All I ever wanted to do was musical theatre on Broadway, but I peaked too soon, accomplishing that in my mid-20s, before that was common. I jumped from a bunch of Broadway to composing a bunch of TV music in my 30s, which was a wild leap in creative energy. Then, after returning to my cabaret and piano bar roots, fate decreed that I should spend the next 14 years writing huge symphonic arrangements for the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and around the country – and now show-making with a one-of-a-kind talent in Jesse Luttrell. I just keep answering the phone and doing what it tells me.

Jesse Luttrell performing at Feinstein's/54 Below7. If you had to describe each other with one song being featured in the show, what song would each of you use to describe the other?

Jesse Luttrell: HAH! Penniless Bums! from the Jule Styne musical SUGAR: "see how two melody masters suffer a string of disasters just to become two penniless bums..."

Fred Barton: "Live Till I Die." Now don’t get me wrong – neither of us has a death wish, or any expectation of rolling over with our legs in the air anytime soon (at least dead.) But that song is the kingmaker of Jesse’s first set, and it captures how we feel about performing: no half-way, no sorta, no kinda, no crushingly restrained holding back in search of suffocating chimerical faux-sophistication (only a faux-sophisticate like me could use the phrase "suffocating chimerical faux-sophistication"). Judy Garland used to say, "I’m going to go out there and give ‘em Two Hours Of POW." We like POW. "Before your number’s up, fill your cup, live till you die." Jesse conveys that song’s message big-time.

8. With the concert being called SHOWSTOPPER what do you feel is the biggest "showstopper" of your own career thus far?

Jesse Luttrell: The biggest "Showstopper" of my career so far has been taking the leap by quitting my job and pouring all my money and effort into developing my solo act. I've always had the best results by painting myself into a corner -  it's really the only way to make things happen in showbusiness.

Fred Barton: Having the New York Pops at Carnegie play a huge arrangement I created, and playing the piano for it center stage. The place absolutely came apart, and conductor Steven Reineke called me out to stand center stage for many bows. I thought, "Wow, Judy Garland stands center stage at Carnegie. Me? Who am I, anyway, am I my resumé?" (Answer: YES!) And the other was my one-man show Miss Gulch Returns, which started as my personal club act in 1983, and is still selling CDs and being produced in theatres around the country these 35 years later.

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola9. After the show is over, what is the first thought that goes through your head?

Jesse Luttrell: I know this is weird, and maybe a little too meta, but I'm totally deaf to applause...Like- I hear it but I can never tell if it was a golf clap or if they really liked it - so after the show my first thought is "did they clap" and my friends are always like "shut up, you're stupid.." Then we run to the bar.

Fred Barton: "Do I need a coat to go smoke?"

10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourselves that you just want clear up? 

Jesse Luttrell: Hopefully this isn't too petty....but....I'm compared a lot to Judy and Liza, I think because I have a hearty spin in my voice - but I don't do it to try to sound like anyone - it's my natural voice. There are videos of me as a little kid singing at the top of my lungs with almost the same voice I have now (except in a different octave of course lol). Judy always said "be the first rate version of yourself not the second rate version of someone else." I like me..imma do me. Anyone who says I do otherwise doesn't know me or my work and should stay home and download my album from itunes or my website  (end of shameless plug).

Fred Barton: I don’t flatter myself that anyone gives me enough thought to have misconceptions, but since my earliest years, I know I can strike people as elite and condescending. It’s actually self-imposed perfectionism, and I know it’s not always fun to be around, but it’s no fun for me either – but if you’re not going to be as close to perfect and brilliant and fabulous as anyone could possibly be in this life, and communicate and inspire insights to and within people to the best of yours or anyone else’s abilities, what are you doing on the stage?

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsMore on Jesse:

Jesse Luttrell has quickly become one of the most in-demand young concert artists in New York and around the country. He starred in the critically acclaimed musical revue BAWDY, which ran in New York City for an unprecedented 6 years. Jesse regularly headlines with award-winning Broadway stars in "American Showstoppers," the acclaimed concert series at New York’s Schimmel Center and on tour. His critically acclaimed debut album is featured on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby, and is being streamed daily to countless fans around the world. Before pursuing a solo career, Jesse began as a ballet dancer and trained on full scholarship with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and The Rock School/Pennsylvania Ballet. He then made the switch to musical theatre, and toured the country starring in a variety of roles including the "Pharaoh" in Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat, the "Emcee" in Cabaret, "Frank-n-Furter" in The Rocky Horror Show, and multiple roles in Cats, Peter Pan, 42nd Street, Meet Me in St Louis, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, West Side Story, Evita, and Carousel.

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellMore on Fred:

Fred Barton just completed a 563-performance run as pianist, musical director, arranger, and actor in the hit off-Broadway show Spamilton, also music-supervising the recent Chicago and Los Angeles productions. His orchestrations are played regularly by the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and major symphonies around the country. On Broadway and national tour, Fred conducted Anthony Quinn in Zorba, Hal Prince’s production of Cabaret, Cy Coleman’s City of Angels and Robert Goulet in Camelot. Fred debuted as the original arranger/pianist for Forbidden Broadway, and created the book, music and lyrics for his 1983 one-man show Miss Gulch Returns! (Back Stage Bistro Award), still produced by theaters nationwide. TV credits (composer and/or arranger): HBO’s Cathouse: The Musical, Olivia, Wonder Pets!, Eureeka’s Castle, and The Magic School Bus (Emmy Award.) Fred has produced and arranged numerous CDs, including Jesse Luttrell’s debut album. The "American Showstoppers" concert series with the Fred Barton Orchestra, top Broadway performers, and the best Golden Age Broadway songs, just completed its fifth year.


Call Answered: Rick Skye: "Bazazz! A Sequined Variety" at Don't Tell Mama

Rick Skye, Photo Credit: Trevor SwingleLiza Minnelli is one of the most impersonated icons of our time. Everyone who pays homage to her brings their own flair & talent with it. When I was introduced to Rick Skye, one of the world's most well known Liza impersonators, I just had to "Ring Them Bells" and find out more.

Rick, who's show Judy and Liza Together Again just finished a seven year run at Don't Tell Mama this past June, is already returning to the venue with a new monthly variety show called Bazazz! A Sequined Variety. In addition to Rick, November's show will feature Steven Brinberg as Barbra Streisand and entertainer Sidney Myer. Cabaret favorite Ricky Ritzel is the evening’s Musical Director.

Bazazz! A Sequened Variety will play Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) on Saturday, November 25 at 8pm. Click here for tickets!

Designed by Andy Drachtenberg1. Besides Liza Minnelli, who or what inspired you to become a performer? I think you are born a performer and the performers who came before you set the bar for the type of artist you want to grow into. I was initially inspired by all the MGM Musicals, I Love Lucy, Judy, Cher, Bette Midler, all the brilliant Broadway shows that had stars that glittered and belted it out. I love a song and dance Diva that holds the audience for two hours with the force of her unique, individual personality. Shows used to revolve around those and it was my ambition to be able to do that. There isn't a school for that. "You either have it, or you've had it" to quote Mama Rose. The important thing is to get up anywhere and everywhere and perform for the experience. You need a lot of tricks in your bag to be able to keep that audience from fidgeting - especially NOW. So, I absorbed everything from the last generation of performers, but, all that set aside - Judy Garland has been my lifelong inspiration and muse in all things. The "World's Greatest Entertainer."

2. You recently started a monthly variety show at Don't Tell Mama called Bazazz! A Sequined Variety. When did you get the idea to start this show? I didn't! I had been performing in a show entitled Judy and Liza Together Again that ran most Saturday nights at Don't Tell Mama for almost seven years! It just kept running and running and then it finally ended last June. The managers at Don't Tell Mama contacted me in September and said that it just "hadn't been the same" on Saturday nights without a big show in the back room and would I consider doing a Variety show, as Liza, once a month that could turn into a long running thing. I was skeptical at first because there were other things I wanted to pursue at the time, but sometimes you "walk through the door that is open," ya know? So, I said, "Yes!" and kept my fingers crossed.

Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli3. What do you like about this format as opposed to putting together a one man show? I am really enjoying working with choreographer Kyle Rostan and the dancers. We do a really razzle dazzle opening number called "Bazazz," which is a song written by Liza's Godmother Kay Thompson with four part Jazz harmonies and it's just PURE JOY from start to finish. Opening night it really set the audience up for a good time. I also get to do Kander and Ebbs "Arthur in the Afternoon" from The Act, a show that Liza won the Tony Award for. I want to put in more numbers with me and the boys as time goes on. They are all talented and full of "Bazazz!" (which is a word Kay Thompson coined for the film Funny Face - it's a blending of "Bazaar" and "Pizazz," but you knew that, 'natch).

4. This month's show (November 25) features Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg and entertainer Sidney Myer. What are you looking forward to most about having them on the show? For Steven and I it will be a sweet reunion. We have performed together many times, most notably in London for four spectacular, sold out nights at the Leicester Square Theater and at the Dublin Theater Festival. We both want to sing "Face to Face" from War Paint in "Bazazz!" and I'm going to move heaven and earth to try and make that happen. Sidney Myer is always a unique present whenever he graces a stage, so I am hoping he will add a little spice to the mix. He is a legend in Cabaret circles, so that's a lot of legends on one stage!

Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli5. Also on this variety show, you will be performing as Liza Minnelli, which you have been heralded for. What was it about Liza that made you want to impersonate her? Well, the way it began had nothing to do with "wanting" to impersonate her. I wrote a song for a "Liza" character to sing in a revue that I wrote called MaCabaret - A Tabloid Fable. All the actors played five parts, so they were either onstage performing or changing their clothes. Nobody was available in the middle of the show to sing this one song.  So, I plopped on a wig, made a red slash of a mouth, threw on a sequined schmatte and did the song and it brought down the house. When the show closed, I kept singing that song in a comedy night and week after week people told me that I should do more. So, finally I wrote a show called A Slice O' Minnelli and did a whole evening. Since she has always been my spirit animal it was a thrill to finally be able to exercise that electric style of performing fully.

6. What is the hardest part about impersonating her? The inside is easier for me because I am an actor and the way she is is basically the way I am. It was the outside that I always have a struggle with. I try week after week to make my face, which is almost the exact opposite of hers, to look like her. I want to do the character justice. The clothes all have to be custom made. Her look is so iconic that you have to get the details right, especially in a show where the audience is looking at you for an hour and a half. There has to be a moment in every evening where the audience buys into it and their belief takes over and they begin to think you REALLY look like her, or REALLY sound like her, when, in fact, there is a little magic involved. So I try to perfect as much of the "outside" as I can ahead of time. That is hard.

Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli7. Has Liza Minnelli herself ever see your impersonation of her? If so, what was her reaction? If not, would you want that to happen? Liza hasn't ever seen me and if she were to see me I would hope she would know that the deep love I have for her is what informs every detail of my performance. Even when I make little jokes at the expense of her public persona, because, after all, that is the only thing one really knows about, they are done on the sly and with great affection. I try to capture and bring to the audience what is great about her. She has given me so many nights of thrilling entertainment that I hope, in my own way and with my OWN talent, I can approximate that type of evening for my audiences.

8. Liza is very famous for her rendition of "New York, New York." So, what are some of your favorite things to do in NYC? I always say, "Aren't I lucky to live in my favorite city?" I love to wander the streets with a cup of coffee on an early Sunday morning and wave to Radio City Music Hall, go to a street fair, eat in Little Italy, watch a Joan Crawford movie at the Film Forum, have lunch with Charles Busch and dish the dirt, go to Happy Hour at The Monster and sing all the old songs, take a twirl on the dance floor, go to an Off-Broadway Show, stroll through Central Park and, well, you get the idea...

9. What have you learned about Liza Minnelli from impersonating her that the average person wouldn't know? That she must be made out of iron. To be a star of that magnitude, the amount of discipline and energy that goes into those gargantuan performances really takes an enormous amount of energy. The timing of your day, when to eat, when to begin make up, the whole day revolves around show after show and then travel and then greeting people after and getting enough rest and the stress of keeping everyone together and rehearsals etc. It takes a very special kind of person who would rather perform than do anything else to try and hold such an enterprise together.

10. If you could sing a duet with Liza Minnelli, on one of her songs, which one would you choose? I think it would have to be "A Quiet Thing." First of all, we wouldn't both have to scream over each other and secondly it holds a lot of meaning to people whenever they hear it. And we could harmonize, so there's that. That would be a dream come true. And a very "quiet thing"...

Rick SkyeMore on Rick:

Rick Skye is a multi-award winning performer who has enjoyed international success. Training with the Joffrey Ballet and the famed Stella Adler, Rick toured the US with Ann Reinking and Sandy Duncan in The American Dance Machine Show and in the Kennedy Center Production of Miss Liberty. He acted with Dorothy Louden in a role written especially for him by Paul Zindel in Danny and Della. He did a stint on All My Children and appeared in the film The Cater Waiter starring David Drake. His friendship with Neil Sedaka led to his writing and starring in The Flip Side of Neil Sedaka which earned him a nomination as "Best Newcomer" by The Manhattan Association of Cabarets. His revue, MaCabaret - a tabloid fable ran for nine months in New York and in 2008 he created a new revue entitled The War of the Mama Roses - the Ultimate Audition for GYPSY starring some of the world's foremost impersonators and which enjoyed a successful run in New York. He joined forces with the legendary "Madame" of "Wayland Flowers and Madame" fame and toured the U.S. with Its Madame with an E! which he wrote and starred in. The duo played Resorts International in Atlantic City, the Suncoast Casino in Las Vegas, The RRAZZ Room in San Francisco as well as Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City. He was a contributing writer and performer of Bawdy! - Off Broadway's Biggest Little Vaudeville and most recently won acclaim for creating and directing Sacred Monster a hyperemotional evening of song, drama and comedy starring Billy Lykken.


Call Redialed: Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli at Feinstein's/54 Below

Seth Sikes, Photo Credit: Mitch ZacharyLast 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!

For more on Seth, follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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.

Seth Sikes performing at Feinstein's/54 Below3. 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.

Seth Sikes, Photo Credit: Mitch Zachary7. If you could do a Liza/Judy duet, which song would you want to sing? I think "Together Wherever We Go." It’s from my favorite musical, and sung by my two favorite ladies, and it’s sweet as hell.

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, Photo Credit: Mitch ZacharyMore 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). He made his Feinstein’s/54 Below debut with his acclaimed show Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland.


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?

Seth Sikes performing at 54 Below2. 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.

Seth Sikes 54 Below4. 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.

Seth Sikes6. 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.

Seth Sikes singing at 54 Below8. 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."

Seth SikesMore 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).


Susie Mosher: NEWSical the Musical Interview

Susie Mosher is a comedian, actress, and singer who will make you laugh without fail! Her theatrical credits include a triumphant turn in Broadway's Hairspray and Off-Broadway's Suds and Back to Bacharach & David. Susie has also delighted television audiences with guest starring roles on Nurse Jackie, Without A Trace, HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk 2 w/Vanessa Redgrave, Beverly Hills 90210, Veronica’s Closet, and a recurring role on Showtime’s The L Word. Susie has lit up the screen in such films as A View From The Top, Lost Souls, It's PatThe Wedding Planner, and Bear City 2: the Proposal. Susie is the host of the weekly show, BACKSTAGE at the new theater hot spot 54 Below.

Currently, Susie is cracking audiences up in the hit Off-Broadway show NEWSical the Musical along with Christine Pedi, Michael West, Christina Bianco, Tommy Walker, and a rotating cast of special guest stars which included Perez Hilton, Andrea McArdle (through December 2) and Cheri Oteri (December 3-30). NEWSical the Musical plays at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets and be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Seeing Camelot at the Circle Arts Theatre in San Diego when I was eight years old.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh Jeez. So many people. I would have to write a list a mile long and nobody wants that.

3. What attracted you to "NEWSical the Musical?" I love the cast. Christine Pedi is an icon, NOBODY is better at capturing the essence of a celebrity and making them instantly recognizable. Her Liza is a reason to live. And Michael West and Tommy Walker are both so hilarious.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I want them to come away thinking "I haven't laughed like that in a long time."

5. What has been the best part about joining this talented cast? Well, they keep me on my toes. I am not an impressionist, so I have to find my niche in this crowd. They inspire me to come at things from a different angle and to create fresh funny characters that make them laugh.

6. What do you enjoy most about skit comedy? Again, it's fast and furious. The day after Obama was re-elected we were doing two new pieces reflecting the election. It's scary doing stuff in front of an audience that you just learned the day before, but it's also exhilarating. It's Kamikaze Theater. You may die in a ball of flames, but you feel super alive while you are doing it.

7. What are some of your favorite websites to get hard news and pop culture news from? Perez Hilton of course. and I just click on CNN to get the headlines.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That I'm a deeply insecure individual who is still six years old standing in my living room saying "look at me! look at me!"

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Nothing really matters.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? That Meryl Streep and I were best friends, and we were always hanging out with Bobby De Niro and Steve Sondheim. Oh I guess I kinda answered the question about who I'd like to work with just then. Exactly...only in my dreams.