Young on Old (Broadway)

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Driving past the cherry trees on Park Avenue. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, April 25, 2024. The days have been on the cool side lately with occasional sun although yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in New York, pushing the thermometer up to almost 70 and the green of the tree leaves getting greener and larger and Springier.

We started the week off with an invitation from our friend Marc Rosen about a concert at 54 Below of two guys – Seth Sikes and Nicholas King with Billy Stritch conducting on grand piano. Stritch for a long time was Liza Minnelli’s accompanist.

For who aren’t familiar with it, 54 Below is a nightclub in the basement level of what was the highly successful and celebrated and now legendary disco of the 1970s – Studio 54. The “Below” is a nightclub that came together through a creative partnership with Michael Feinstein and several Broadway producers. I’ve known about it for some time because of the top Broadway performers who have appeared there. Although I’d never attended any performances there.

Billy Stritch, Nicholas King, and Seth Sikes at 54 Below.

Nightclubs with top entertainers performing was once and for decades a major nightlife draw in New York from the late 19th century up through the first six decades of the 20th. Several nightclubs as well as the major hotels had a club room where some of the biggest names in show business performed regularly — including major stars like Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, to name just two of the dozens of stars. The growth of rock music, beginning mid-century was often performed on concert stages in stadiums or major locations that could seat hundreds, even thousands at a performance. That took over live entertainment, and became the norm. It was an entirely different scene, often a much younger audience.

Marc Rosen who loves to entertain at home cocktail parties has occasionally had musicians and performers to entertain his guests.

We were also there toasting Kathy Sloane’s birthday (l. to r.: DPC, Kathy Sloane, Harvey Sloane, Susan Gutfreund, and Marc Rosen) so there was much to celebrate on this particular night. Inset: The birthday girl blowing out her birthday treat.

Several months ago, I attended a performance of Seth Sikes with Billy Stritch accompanying him. Never having heard Mr. Sikes (Mr. Stritch is famous for his work among show folk), I went with no expectations because I knew that his repertoire was the classic popular music created for Broadway and Hollywood musicals of another era — all of which I grew up with and loved.

However Sikes and King are young guys (Seth is 40, Nicholas 35) whose repertoires are that of the great standard American musicals material; and they are GREAT! I was astounded because the two men deliver with a great voices and lively energy as well as delivery.

So I was happy but curious before attending Monday night’s performance as well as introduced to Sikes’ performing partner Nicholas King. The room is a genuine nightclub, glitzy, glowing, lotsa tables and banquettes. And those two guys perform the standards much of which was written for the movie musics of the 20th century.

It was so exciting to witness, two, with Mr. Stritch’s accompaniment, that after a good solid hour of famous, familiar, standard songs performed in the singers’ grand and lively style, I just wished they would sing another hour, or maybe til midnight. Fun, fabulous, real, and uplifting, more uplifting than anything I’ve seen or heard in a long long time.

If you ever have the opportunity to see their performance, run, don’t walk. In the meantime, here’s a taste …

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