Review by Joe Regan Jr.
Seth Sikes returned to Feinstein’s/54 Below September 18 with a revamped “Seth Sikes Sings Mostly Judy Garland” with a seven member orchestra led by his music director Gary Adler, This time he featured some songs he felt that Garland may have sung in her career.
The opening was a brassy “All For You” (Saul Chaplin) mixed with “From This Moment On.” It was an incredibly energetic opening and one wondered where he could go from that point. He spoke of Garland’s love of Harold Arlen and how one of her shows in Las Vegas consisted of all Arlen songs. He began “When the Sun Comes Out” softly and gently and after a big band break, burst out in a brassy belt.
With special lyrics by Lisa Lambert and himself, Sikes utilized the “Born in a Trunk” sequence from “A Star Is Born” to tell his story of being born on a farm in Paris, Texas, miles away from Dallas. His family had a VHS and the only tape they had was “Summer Stock.” His grandmother inspired him to sing and he was put in the Baptist Church’s choir and the song he sang for the minister was “Get Happy.” He also starred in a local production of “Godspell” as Jesus (there were slides of Victor Garber as well as those of Garland and the kid Sikes on a tractor). He commented he was the gayest Jesus Christ ever! And of course there was “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart,” Frances Gumm’s audition song.
He came to New York and had several failed love affairs. One of his friends exposed him to the Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall album and he was disappointed that that woman’s voice was not the Judy Garland voice he knew. But there was one song she sang that helped him with his broken romances, “Do It Again” and he sang it very sexily.
He performed other Garland songs, including “But Not For Me” and “The Man That Got Away.” Having seen Garland perform this signature song so many times live, it is difficult to see someone else sing it, although it has been sung by many, many singers, including Sinatra. But Sikes did a terrific version of “Wonderful Guy” which Garland sang on a Bob Hope radio show.
There was a bit about Garland losing her big part in “Annie Get Your Gun” and Sikes sang a superb version of how he imagined Garland might have sung “I Got Lost In His Arms.”
Sikes told us of his pilgrimage to the house where Judy Garland died in London, and was surprised there was no marker as there were for the other houses there, except for a rose and a paper note. Peering inside the windows, he saw the house was about to be demolished. He returned the next day with a big bouquet of roses and sang, appropriately, “A Foggy Day.”
There was a full song and dance version of “I Don’t Care” which Garland sang in “In The Good Old Summertime,” as well as “Swanee” which was a white Baptist boy channeling Garland channeling the Jewish black faced Al Jolson.
The penultimate number was “Harvest Home,” the song Garland sang on a tractor in “Summer Stock” with the audience singing along, as well as, one of the great Garland songs, “After You’ve Gone” with all the extra lyrics Garland added.
Seth Sikes Sings Mostly Judy Garland will repeat at Feinstein’s/54 Below November 24. Reservations are strongly recommended because his shows sell out. He will also be performing Jan. 22 and Mar. 18, 2016.
TICKETS & INFORMATION:
254 W 54TH ST, CELLAR, NEW YORK, NY 10019