The Kinsey Sicks (Photo by Lois Tema)

Denise Lee welcomes audiences to Uptown Player’s cabaret ‘Simply the Best’

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

Uptown Players is hosting a special weekend May 10-12, with two different performances. Cabaret Weekend kicks off Friday, May 10, with the dragapella group The Kinsey Sicks returning to the Uptown stage. On Saturday and Sunday, Denise Lee plays host in Simply the Best – A Tribute to the Greatest Artists of Our Time featuring a cast of local faves singing iconic pop hits.

Uptown Players co-producer Jeff Rane “called me saying that they wanted to do a cabaret night, and if you know me, I’m all about cabaret,” Lee said. “Then we talked about those icons of the LGBTQ community and the songs we wanted to do.”

The two-act cabaret show will feature local talents Peter DiCesare, Bethany Lorentzen, Trey Tolleson and Lee Walter alongside host Denise Lee, celebrating legendary musical icons. Backed by a six-piece on-stage band under the musical direction of Gary Adler, the performances will include songs by artists who have had an impact on the LGBTQ community.

What Lee didn’t want to do was the songs that often end up on Pride soundtracks. Pick up a copy of Now That What I Call Pride, and that’s exactly what she didn’t want. She wanted to go deeper.

Denise Lee

“We tried not to do the typical songs and go with those that aren’t heard a lot but still play a role in the community,” Lee said. “There are old ones, campy ones, and it’s just all for fun.”

Lee teased that she has her own number with one big legendary hit but offered no details. When asked to deliver more, she opted to leave most of the singing to the cast.

“‘Y’all go ahead. I’m hosting,’ I said. The voices on that stage are pretty amazing. Jeff had also asked me to direct, but I told him I’d rather give suggestions,” she said with a laugh.

Lee has been a staple at Uptown Players as well as in the community. She was at the first Broadway Our Way fundraiser, the annual installment of which was just last weekend. Lee is a busy actor and singer but when it comes to Uptown, it’s easy for her to say “yes.”

“This is my community. I like working with organizations that do good work and that serve their communities and being that ally,” she said. “If I can help with whatever I add, I am there. But it also has to be fun for me at this point. If I can’t laugh, it’s tough. I always laugh with Uptown.”

The weekend kicks off Friday with a one-night-only performance from The Kinsey Sicks. The group’s show Deep Inside Tonight is a musical newscast-run-amok where America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet takes over the airwaves.

Through four-part harmonies and their hot takes and parodies on current events, The Kinsey Sicks bring their own laughs to the audience with a show that changes with the times.

“They are ever-changing. We don’t shy away from hot topics or sensitive issues. But you know, we do it with a wink and a nod,” Spencer Brown, AKA Trampolina told Dallas Voice before their appearance at Uptown Players in 2021 for the holidays. “This way, we have fun with it, and it’s in four-part harmony.”

It is this approach that perhaps explains the longevity of the The Kinsey Sicks, which has been performing for almost a quarter-century now.

Lee appreciates the fun that Uptown Players is bringing. The company is basically giving a one-two punch of entertainment following its Broadway Our Way fundraiser last weekend. Lee says it’s needed.

“The world is so crazy right now, so if you need a palate cleanser, come on down. It’s Mother’s Day weekend so bring your mom or someone else’s mom,” she said. “It’s like a smaller version of Broadway Our Way but with pop tunes. Come on out and just get lost in the music.”

For tickets, visit