Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below

pixeltracker

Fire Island's reigning Cabaret Queen shows he is much more than his viral videos.

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below

Seth Sikes and I have been missing each other. It's been twenty-six months since I came on board at Broadway World Cabaret and (almost from the very beginning) I've been hearing and reading about this cabaret sensation named Seth Sikes. The story was in the air, how he had left show business for a civilian life, the call of the piano bar open mic and how it led to a personal cabaret show, a vanity project if you will, and how that one-night-only performance became a bona fide career in the business - it was a story right out of MGM and, as time passed, Seth Sikes became almost a kind of legend to me. Still, every time he was performing in town, I was elsewhere engaged.

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below Well, last night I finally got to set me bumm in a seat and settle in for a Seth Sikes show - not one of his Diva Shows in which he covers the careers of Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters or Judy Garland; this was his show about the music of the Nineteen Twenties, created especially for 54 Below to ring in the New 2020 Year. Well, as years go, 2020 kind of sucked, and Seth didn't want to sing a show that reminded him (or anyone) of that year, as he explained in his opening monologue, so last night's program was an evening of songs that he just wanted to sing for fun, unfortunate because the title of the show being sold on the Feinstein's/54 Below website was still billed as Seth Sikes SINGS THE '20S, just with the word ETC. tacked on the end. It was the show advertised, and it was the show this writer wanted, and was excited to see. So there was an element of disappointment about not getting that show, though, to be clear, Mr. Sikes did sing some songs from the Nineteen Twenties - he just sang them intermittently throughout the evening, an evening that was more focused on the songs of (you guessed it) Liza Minnelli ("The Man I Love"), Bernadette Peters ("Time Heals Everything") and Judy Garland (at least three). It would have actually been more appropriate, had they titled this show THE BEST OF Seth Sikes because that's pretty much what the audience got.

And what an audience it was.

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below 54 Below had been sold out before. I've seen it. Marilyn Maye's show was Standing Room Only. So was the Norm Lewis Christmas show (every night for two weeks, lucky him). Linda Eder, Orfeh and Andy, Paolo Szot were all sold out, every seat, standing room. Somehow, it seemed that the Seth Sikes Show last night was better sold than anything I had, previously, seen in the supper club. The man has some following, and let's hope they follow him to every performance he does because this was a sight to behold. And once he hits the stage and gets half-way through his opening number (a wonderfully upbeat "We're in the Money" including the famous Ginger Rogers Pig Latin verse), it is easy to see why he has such a big following. Seth Sikes is appealing. You'd have to blind not to see his appeal. He's incredibly outgoing, he's as cute as any self-professed Fire Island twink (aging or otherwise) you've ever met, and he is loaded with energy, ebullience, and entertainment. Sikes has style and showmanship for days, often visibly influenced by some of the entertainers we all know he loves. Ok, style influenced by Judy Garland, let's just say it.

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below It is apparent how much of Sikes' performance style has been informed by his love of Judy Garland, and that's fine because it's plain to see he isn't a person who watched Judy Garland concert videos and mimics her mannerisms and vocal inflections: this is someone who loves Judy so much that, over time and with multiple viewings, her style has been absorbed by osmosis. The Garland influences come from such a place of love as to be absolutely endearing; indeed, the entire act comes from a place of love, so much so that love is almost a character in the show. Seth loves this music, he loves singing it, he loves the artists who created it, he loves grandiosity and showmanship, he loves being a gay man... you know, there are gay men who just are gay, and there are gay men who love being a gay man. Seth Sikes is the latter. He truly loves his life as a gay male, and he leans into it in every aspect of the story he is telling here. This iteration of his club act is perfectly styled to be picked up and put down in every gay vacation spot, resort, summer town, or cruise line looking for a nightclub act. It may not be quite the right fare for nightclubs and cabarets where the clientele would lean away from the LGBTQIA+ community - some of the humor might be a bit specific, perhaps even inappropriate - but then again, maybe it would be good for the suburbanites of St. Louis and Denver to hear some of this rhetoric. Perhaps Seth Sikes is just the artist to bring to the general public the flamboyance of gay party life, boutique drugs, and serial dating, all topics covered in this show that is, otherwise, a mixed-bag of musical offerings.

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below Seth Sikes proclaims himself to be an old-school belter, and he does have some very powerful money notes that he and Musical Director Matt Aument have orchestrated in ways that show them off while adjusting to his vocal limitations. They have wisely placed his keys in just the right place to allow him to sing, comfortably, the foundation of each song, to serve full steam on the big finishes, and also to allow him to gently touch some high notes that are justthismuch out of his range, keeping him on the pitch, but slightly strained so tenderly and so sweetly as to give him that magical vulnerability of Audrey Hepburn singing "Moon River" or Twiggy singing "If Love Were All" - it's an effective choice that the two men have used to Seth's extreme advantage. The number that best achieves this sweetness is the Rodgers & Hart classic "He Was Too Good To Me" - one of Sikes' more emotionally connected moments in the show, and a definite (and surprisingly touching) highlight in an evening loaded with fast tempos that plow through lyrics. A singer more than an actor, Seth is up on the stage to honor the songs with straightforward performances. To that end, there isn't a lot of substance, as much as there is entertainment. One song after another, Mr. Sikes bounces and breezes along, bright and blaring, and usually upbeat, in one tone or another. His impressive performance from the Mack and Mabel score is so because he stays in his lane, using his instrument properly and wisely, and leaving the acting behind, leaning into plain old sincerity. That sincerity carries Seth through the entire show. His intellect does not get in the way of his instinct, and the famed Bernadette Peters standard remains intact, a beautiful representation of what Jerry Herman wrote. Seth's show is basically a lounge act, not a cabaret show, and lounge acts can be a place where sincerity is not a main ingredient. When, however, Sikes tells his stories about weird first dates and unbearably ugly online comments about him and his work, he stays pretty genuine, making fun of himself and his life before defiantly declaring that "I Don't Care" (Hello, Judy Garland). When he plants his feet and belts out the money notes, he is sincere in his enjoyment of being an entertainer... and he is entertaining. He has a great band, a talented Musical Director & arranger(s), a director who keeps the piece moving at a (mostly well-scripted) good pace, and an enjoyable set of songs, though the show might be better served with slightly fewer parody lyrics. Sikes has a real gift for creating new lyrics to old songs, in order to ensure that the songs relate to his personal story, and that's wonderful. It is also a gimmick with a limit, and it is said that a joke is funny three times before it gets old. By the end of the show, at a time when it would have been nice to hear the original lyrics to some of the classic tunes from the twenties, the parody lyrics had worn out their welcome. It was, nevertheless, a most entertaining night in a club, something one suspects stylish Seth Sikes is always game for: an evening of entertaining en masse.

The Seth Sikes SINGS THE '20S ETC. personnel are:

Matt Aument - Piano

Alphonso Horne - Trumpet

Michael Breaux - Reeds

Vince Giordano - Bass

Justin Rothberg - Banjo

Mike Lunoe - Drums

Rachel Handman - Violin

Eric Gilliland - Director

Seth Sikes SINGS THE '20S, ETC.! was a one-off appearance but more great shows playing 54 Below can be found HERE.

Seth Sikes has a Twitter HERE, an Instagram HERE, and a YouTube HERE.

Seth Sikes gets a five out of five microphones rating for performing his entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Alphonso Horne
BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Michael Breaux
BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Vince Giordano
BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Justin Rothberg
BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Rachel Handman
BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Mike Lunoe
BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below
Matt Aument

BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Seth Sikes is Fresh As Paint in SETH SIKES SINGS THE '20S ETC.! at Feinstein's/54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher


Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

From This Author Stephen Mosher