TISCH MILLS, Wis. (WFRV) – What is art?
An expression of self.
The medium can be anything.
It can be “The Untitled Kevin Sievert Project.”
The autobiographical musical exposition tells the life of Kevin James Sievert thus far.
The stage of The Forst Inn serves as Kevin Sievert’s room.
He holds forth – mostly singing and telling stories – live, with an in-person audience.
That last phrase is important these days, with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting so much. Live entertainment is like the crocus this spring, just arriving again on a small scale.
Kevin Sievert has a way of holding attention.
His voice is an embracing tenor – strong, clear, pliable, rhythmic and with a certain sweetness/tang. Pick a berry that you savor; it’s that berry just-right tasty.
His body language speaks of presence.
The rest? “His-story” is the way Michael Sheeks, director of The Forst Inn Arts Collective, sums up what happens. Looking for a presentation coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Sheeks thought of Kevin Sievert from knowing what he’s done on the same stage.
“His-story” flows like a river filled with bubbly stretches, plenty of sharp rocks and curves that lead to discoveries – always with a feeling of the possibility of drowning.
The basics: Kevin Sievert was brought up Catholic, took to performing as a child, won some honors and, at age 27, feels he is on the cusp of something professionally so his “Untitled” life can earn a title.
The project is entertaining. Kevin Sievert has found 19 songs to flesh out his story, a remarkable number that look into his soul and being and reveal parts of him.
“Random Black Boy” arrives around the time he speaks of being adopted along with his twin sister, brought from Janesville to “the white plains of Manitowoc.”
“One” is his lonely number, for being viewed as out-of-place “weird.” He says along the way, “I’m the chubby black kid with a passion for theater.”
“A Little Bit” illustrates a conversation with his adoptive mother, always spoken of as kind, knowing, supportive and loving.
“Without You” is a reflection on a broken relationship.
Along the way, Kevin Sievert has another force on stage – David Bowman – not only playing keyboard in songs but portraying characters in “his-story,” sometimes as devil’s advocate.
My guess is Kevin Sievert – even as revealing as his show is – feels comfortable exposing his soul in a familiar place that’s mostly off the radar at a crossroads surrounded by farmland. The show of his creation is something one might find in Chicago, say. It is that well-formed, keenly performed and engaging.
Kevin Sievert definitely has a story. The way he tells it? Art is art.
Kevin Sievert as himself
David Bowman at the piano
Jeff LaFond in the booth
Running time: Two hours
Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. March 26-27, 2 p.m. March 28
“Living in Another World” by Neon Trees
“Random Black Boy” by Kooman + Diamond
“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas and The Papas
“One” by Three Dog Night
“Dancing in the Dark” by Scary Pockets, made famous by Bruce Springsteen
“Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monae
“I’m Calm” from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”
“Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables”
“Wait ’Till You See What’s Next” by Jason Robert Brown
“Poor, Unsuccessful and Fat” from “A New Brain”
“Belief” by Alexander Sage Oyen
“Stay” from “Amélie”
“Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John
“Waving Through a Window” from “Dear Evan Hansen”
“Poetry by Dead Men” by Sara Bareilles
“A Little Bit” by Drew Gasparini
“Without You” from “Rent”
“Genius” by Duncan Sheik
“Cry Today, Smile Tomorrow” by Anthony Ramos