“My parents met at our local community theater, and so theater has been in my life always,” says Preston Seymour. The suburban Chicago native made his performance debut at the age of five, as Winthrop in a school production of The Music Man. Seymour characterizes his performance career, developed over the past 30 years, as one going “from a little lisping boy to a grown adult lisping man. But now I do it in a dress and heels and a lot of sass.”
Seymour launched his drag career after working with Charles Busch seven years ago on the famous gay playwright’s stage adaptation of the children’s book series, Bunnicula. “When we closed that show, I was just kind of whining about having to audition again,” he says. “Charles just turns to me and says, ‘Try drag. It works great for me.'”
A side hobby quickly became a full-time pursuit, as Seymour booked regular gigs on Atlantis Events cruises and in Puerto Vallarta, as well as hosting Broadway Mondays at Hardware Bar in New York. He also tours around the country, and this Friday, August 2, will appear at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Virginia.
“I do a lot of parodies of Broadway musicals and pop songs, styled very much like a Bette Midler show in the bathhouses,” he says about his show as Sutton Lee Seymour, a name referencing a reigning Broadway star (Sutton Foster) and the ingenue from Gypsy (Gypsy Rose Lee), to say nothing of a signature song from Little Shop of Horrors. Seymour always sings and only lip-syncs occasionally.
At a typical show, Seymour will perform either a condensed song parody of the plot to Titanic or The Lion King — and then end the evening with his namesake, “Suddenly Seymour,” festooned with original parody lyrics. “It’s such a beautiful love duet,” he says. “It’s just kind of a nice warm, sentimental way to spread a little love out into the audience and say goodnight.”
Sutton Lee Seymour performs Friday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m., at Freddie’s Beach Bar, 555 South 23rd St., in Arlington. Tickets are $8 to $10 for reserved spots, or $24 to $90 for reserved tables. Call 703-685-0555 or visit www.freddiesbeachbar.com.