On Thursday, April 16, celebrated singer and musical interpreter Seth Sikes will return to Broadway supper club, 54 Below, with “Seth Sikes is Still Singing Judy Garland,” bringing fans selections from Garland’s renowned body of work, many of which he performs in her original key. Now with new songs added, Sikes not only conveys the magic of Judy Garland through his own talent, but relays his personal relationship with the icon’s body of work which began for him during his childhood in Paris, TX.
Many fans, especially gay men, can point to a single moment in Garland’s career that stand out as the first time they were bowled over by her incredible talent, or that to them, represent her work in entirety; that one song or performance, that in four to five minutes, proves why she may have been the best female film star and concert performer of the 20th century.
For Sikes that moment was seeing Garland in the film “Summer Stock” (with co-star Gene Kelly), when he was a child, “I had never seen a performer like her… not then and not since,” Sikes said. “[The song] ‘Get Happy,’ of course, but the whole film, the way she sings and acts and dances,” he added. “There’s really no one like her and since [that moment], I was hooked.”
However, despite the amplified—and often stereotypical—appreciation of Garland’s work among gay men, Sikes doesn’t prescribe to any one assumption in his life. “A lot of people link the appreciation for Judy with the difficulty of growing up gay,” Sikes said. “I don’t really relate to that. For me, I’ve just never heard or seen any artist perform like her,” he added. “Once you’ve heard her sing something for the first time, it stands out and no matter who you hear sing it, it never sounds the same again.”
With this lens, free at least in his own mind from typical cultural implications, Sikes is also unique in his interpretations—not unique to him, as he does many in Garland’s original key, but rather from other performers who apply their own personal spin. In that way, Sikes is part of a renewed appreciation for Garland’s music, especially among younger fans, freed, at least in part, from stereotypes and some of the chatter about Garland’s personal demons that led to her untimely death at the age of 47.
“I’m really glad that people so far have liked my show. I really do everything I can to present her work as she did it,” Sikes commented. “Compared to contemporary performers, who put their own spin on the songs, it’s important to me to present the songs as close to how she performed them as possible, because [in that way] I see them as perfect.”
For information about “Seth Sikes is Still Singing Judy Garland,” visit www.54Below.com.