Avi Duvdevani is an admitted lifelong Liza Fan! His excitement was catching when he made sure to be present at Feinstein’s /54below to see Seth Sikes perform his tribute to the great lady on March 12, coordinating with Liza’s birthday.
Seth Sikes, who, in the past year, performed four criticality acclaimed, sold out Judy Garland tribute shows at Feinstein’s54Below, made a confession early in his new set Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli. Presented, yet again, to a sold out, enthusiastic crowd , on the occasion of Liza’s 70th birthday. Sikes confessed early in his set, that he really always liked Liza better than Judy, because, unlike Judy (who he mostly experienced in MGM movies) Liza performed LIVE !
I had never seen Seth Sikes perform before, but he had me hooked with that confession. I was a teenage Israeli immigrant, who had never been exposed to Broadway show music until I was first enthralled with Liza Minnelli’s stage performance in Kander & Ebb’s Flora the Red Menace over 50 years ago. I first saw a preview performance in the Spring of 1965 and thereafter cut all my Wednesday afternoon HS classes for the rest of the semester to go see it again and again. Seth performed only one song from that show, (which won Liza her very first Tony award) “Sing Happy,” but that was enough to send chills up my spine and take me back to some wonderful memories with Liza , during that early Summer of 1965.
Sikes is not a Liza imitator and didn’t channel her persona, he just very ably performed the music that has made us love Liza all these years.
Seth provided plenty of interesting and funny patter throughout, some real, some apocryphal. The crowd responded to each tune Seth performed with wild applause and cheering whooOops. Was it The Singer (Walter Marks) or was it the song ? I think a bit of both.
I plan to make it my business to go see Seth perform a Judy set, or any female singer’s music he chooses to do (he admitted a predilection for that). You’d be wise to do likewise.
Supported by a wonderful band which included Paul Masse (music director/piano), Dave Trigg (Trumpet/ Dave also happens to have been Liza’s Trumpet player back in the day), Marc Phaneuf (Reeds), Mike Fahn (Trombone), Dan Weiner (Percussion), Tom Norton (Guitar) (Drums), Corey Schutzer (Bass).
Orchestrations by Matt Aument, Neil Douglas Reilly, & Jesse Vargas.