BWW Feature: SIDNEY MYER LIVE! Makes PANGEA The Place to Be On New Year's Eve
Sidney Myer. Say the name to anyone working in or frequenting the cabaret scene and the reaction will be the same, every time. The face relaxes, the eyes soften, and the smile broadens. Say "Sidney Myer" to anyone you meet as a test; if that is the physical reaction you get, you are either in the presence of someone who knows Sidney Myer personally, or someone who has seen him perform.
Mr. Myer has been living in New York since his late teens when he moved to Manhattan to find his way in the world. Shortly after that move, either he found the cabaret world or the cabaret world found him, but everyone has been the lucky beneficiary of that magic moment when Myer and cabaret began their lifelong journey as partners in creation and crime. For many years Mr. Myer worked in the light, upon the stages of the nightclubs he called home, but came the day when he accepted a position as the booking agent for the famed nightspot Don't Tell Mama and the performing took a back seat. Oh, he still got up now and then and sang in group shows, he added his unique voice to special events, or he crooned a tune in the front piano room at Mama's, but Sidney Myer was, for all intents and purposes, retired from performing full time.
Photo: Stephen Mosher
Last year, Sidney Myer put together an act at the request of Stephen Shanaghan at Pangea. The act, meant for a brief run, sat down for a residency in the edgy club that specializes in alt cabaret, and audiences flocked to see the remarkable Myer experience a rebirth in his life as a performer. Four times Sidney Myer played Pangea and three times his shows were extended until, finally, he had to close the show because of other commitments. In only the last five months Myer has been seen in Do You Hear What I Hear? At the Laurie Beechman, Just Because at Don't Tell Mama, and the prestigious third night of The Cabaret Convention "A Garland of Judy." His contributions to each of these shows have drawn a huge response, earning him new fans and more offers of work.
One of those offers of work is the coveted New Year's Eve spot at Pangea, the club that brought him back to regular performing, to the relief of his fans across the city. After his repeatedly sold-out shows at Pangea this year, crowds are clamoring for more of the incredibly unique, always interesting, and overwhelmingly human Myer. The shows at Pangea will take place on New Year's Eve at 8 pm and 10:30 pm, and though the show has the same title as the other shows he did at the downtown eatery, Sidney Myer LIVE, it is a newly constructed evening of stylish specialties and signature songs. Joining Myer for his elegant evening of entertainment will be Tracy Stark at the piano and Matt Scharfglass on the bass. This old school entertainer, raconteur extraordinaire, natural-born comic, and one of a kind singer will bring the crowds to new heights of mirth, wonderment, and gratitude with this new installment of his show because Mr. Myer is a never-ending creator of commentary on life, current affairs, and reminiscences from his vast and varied life. Revered for having launched and nurtured countless singers in his work as booking manager of Don't Tell Mama, Mr. Myer is considered the preeminent purveyor of special material and host without peer, but the latest development in his career, as an honest to goodness star, out on his own, is no surprise to anyone who knows him or who has seen his work. Is it any wonder, then, that he took home a MAC and a Bistro Award in 2019?
Photo by Stephen Mosher
Sidney Myer LIVE! For New Year's Eve will play the Downtown Supper Club PANGEA, known for programming eclectic acts into their intimate showroom as well as reasonable prices. Tickets to Myer's NYE show will include a three-course dinner, ½ bottle of Prosecco per person, and the show, tax, and gratuity inclusive, making the choice to spend the evening with Sidney Myer a no brainer.
Aware of the magnitude of Mr. Myer's holiday schedule, I decided to break free from form and, rather than ask him for an interview, to ask his colleagues, friends, fans, and mentees what makes Sidney Myer so special. The response was overwhelming.
"Sidney Myer is the CHAMPION of every singer who sings at Don't Tell Mama. He wants everyone to do well, to succeed, to be happy. Every singer who does a show there has a sit-down with Sidney so he can get to know them and what their show is about, but the beautiful thing is that, instead of him getting to know them, what really happens is they get to know HIM. And Sidney is worth knowing." ---Dorian Woodruff
"Sidney Myer and I are close friends. He is an amazing raconteur and a wonderful person. I have seen his shows and am always amazed at his history, stories and his perfect song choices for himself. He has been very supportive of everyone in this business, including me. When I first met him, he spent one hour asking about me!" ---Lynn Henderson
Photo by Stephen Mosher
"Sidney Myer!!! I can think of absolutely no better way to ring in 2020 than with this entertainer who is THE REAL DEAL! Sidney Myer can make me laugh REALLY hard.... and then in the next song make me cry! Brilliantly funny, brilliantly perceptive, and .... well, just brilliant!" ---Karen Mason
"Sidney gave me my first booking at Don't Tell Mama when I was 11 years old and continued to put me in whenever I had another act ready to go. He was always supportive back then and remains so today, truly the most giving and generous among our cabaret circuit. And certainly the most passionate about this craft. My favorite memory of that side of Sidney is the night we had a packed house, Liza Minnelli, Gina Lollobrigida, Tony Danza, Julie Wilson, Marilyn Maye, and Mike Renzi doing his magic on the very out of tune piano. I looked out at the crowd and Sidney stood in the back the entire show, hollering and whistling and cheering. He never left. At the end of the show, he was the first to greet me as I exited, and he hugged me tight, with tears in his eyes. It was a big night for me, for sure, but I hadn't processed it yet, I was still coming off the adrenaline rush. But he already had. He was so excited for me, he said he felt like he performed the whole show himself, and having watched me perform in that room for (at that point) almost a decade, he felt I 'arrived' that night. He was so teary-eyed he could barely get the sentences out, and it just made me appreciate and love him even more. I was so moved by his support. A man who brings so much joy to people, and who is one of the hardest working people I know, standing there sharing that moment with me, I'll never forget it. He's the prince of cabaret, I call him our mascot, because he embodies what cabaret is, the connection to the audience and lyric, and telling a real story. Sidney never gives less than 101 percent." ---Nicolas King
"Sidney is the absolute heart of the cabaret community. I'll never forget the day I sat in his office and received "the talk" prior to my debut at Don't Tell Mama in 1999. Sidney educated me on the who-what-where-when-how-why of cabaret. I was filled with reverence, respect, inspiration, curiosity, joy, and hope. Sidney's shows do the same for me, as when I leave I am changed, and full of reverence, respect, inspiration, curiosity, joy, and hope. Run don't walk." ---Lisa Viggiano
Photo by Stephen Mosher
"Sidney Myer is kind of magical if you ask me. Not only is he one of the busiest bookers on the cabaret scene, and a wonderful and witty performer, he's a supportive and extremely PRESENT member of the community. Days after I send out my weekly Cast Party/Broadway at Birdland Newsletter, we'll see each other in the street and he'll quote the damn thing back to me. Not only does he READ it, but he RETAINS it! He truly cares and believes in the many characters on the scene, which is just one reason he is massively beloved." ---Jim Caruso
"I adore Sidney Myer!! He took a chance on me doing a show at Don't Tell Mama without ever hearing or seeing me!! A lady named Laurie that he trusted saw me in a show in Dallas. David Friedman told her that I wanted to do something in NYC. Two weeks later I was booked at Don't Tell Mama!! When I met Sidney he told me that usually people had to audition but he trusted Laurie and booked me. After my rehearsal and soundcheck he said, "I adore you"!!! That was the start of a fun relationship with Sidney!! I went back 4 more times to do shows there because he loved me as well! Greatest man ever!! I only wish I could be there to support him in his show!!" ---Amy Stevenson
"When I think of cabaret, I always think of Vaudeville. Cabaret is the last remnants of that tradition. And there is one person who epitomizes the Vaudevillian tradition. You will be hard-pressed to find any member of our cabaret community who does not know Sidney Myer. Some call him the patron saint of Cabaret, and with good reason. He has a hand in the careers of so many in this community including mine. My introduction to Sidney was in the Eighties as an entertainer extraordinaire. All he has to do is walk out on stage and say, "Good evening', and the entire audience is intoxicated by his showmanship and command of everything in his path. For years, I wondered why he stopped entertaining. He did so, except for the occasional guest special appearance, to focus on booking the acts of Don't Tell Mama. Well, lucky for all, he came back to performing within the past two years. He sells out repeatedly and puts everyone under his spell. As we move into the 20s, experience the best of Vaudeville once again at Pangea, as the Patron saint of cabaret says goodbye to one decade and rings in the new! Anderson and Andy who?" ---Richard Skipper
"Some thoughts about Sidney:
He makes it a point to attend EVERYONE's show. And you always know he is in the audience - he laughs readily, and claps the loudest and the longest!
I still remember my audition and interview with Sidney in 1999 when he was considering booking me for my first show. He took the time to initiate me into the world of cabaret (I was BRAND new to cabaret, hadn't even taken a workshop or class yet, except for my weekly voice lessons in NJ), with a 20-30' overview of cabaret and DTM. He carefully emphasized that all the staff at DTM are "performers in their own right", setting the tone for mutual respect and appreciation, a stance that he maintains and exemplifies to this day. His photo is prominently displayed in the (Yiddish) dictionary next to the word "mensch" - I know this even though I am not Jewish ?
After every new show of mine (usually opening performance), he has made it a point to catch me in the bar area, offer me a drink, and offer me feedback about how I've grown as a performer. He stays true to his mission to book and encourage talent, never offering even the most constructive criticism, as he once told me, "that is not my role".
When one knocks on the door of his dungeon-like office in the bowels of DTM, no matter how busy, tired, or HOT (that office is stifling!) he is, he greets with a huge smile and unmitigated affection. Like you are WAY more important than you really are" ---Lucille Carr-Kaffashan
This photo and the icon photo at the top are by Albie Mitchel.