BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Sidney Myer
We all know him, whether it be shining on stage interpreting one of the tongue-in-cheek American Standards that he's known for, buzzing around Don't Tell Mama's making sure everything is going smoothly with the multiple shows he booked that day, or simply floating into a cabaret club to support an artist he enjoys. HE is the kind and encouraging man that has launched many a career and has given young artists a shot to perform, long before their names were in lights on the great white way. Who is this legendary New York City fixture? Why none other than Sidney Myer (of course)!
I'll never forget a particular sit-down meeting with Sidney. Corinna and I met him in the restaurant portion of Don't Tell Mama in the early spring of 2014. We were looking for a space to produce one of our Teen Cabaret showcases. Sidney was so kind, welcoming, and really was, it seemed, way more intrigued to interview us and talk about our careers then he was for the conversation to revolve around him. He seemed to find it fascinating - who we were, where did we both grow up, how did we get work in the theater, etc. With a laundry list of accomplishments and performances at venues around the world in his career, it could have easily been an afternoon that was Sidney-centric, but anyone familiar with Mr. Myer knows that is not his style.
I guess that meeting was a huge incite into the secret of his success - both as a performer and booking manager. Sidney's passion lies in his audience. He wants to connect with them and know who they are; understand what makes them sparkle and come alive.
We were fortunate enough to book our Teen Cabaret showcase at Don't Tell Mama early that summer and have been doing so there ever since. Also every year before their performance, Sidney does a talkback with our students alongside other industry professionals and that year joined the hilarious Marilyn Sokol as they reminisced about the pizza delivery Marilyn had scheduled to come during her show in that very same room. The moment the show began for our Teens, Sidney was absolutely bubbling with excitement. He had so much to share and seemed to love every second of being with a new generation of performers.
Thank you, Sidney, for seeing the gold in so many young entertainers. Who knows where they would be without your generous spirit and encouraging nature.
NA: Who is your mentor and what would you like to say to your mentor?
SM: Did not actually have a mentor per se. What I do have is an incredible director, voice/acting teacher all in the person of Mr. Peter Schlosser. We have worked together for almost 50 years. He was the first person who "got me", allowing and encouraging me to be myself and follow my instincts. Many Thanks, Peter.
NA: What has this business given you and what has it taken away?
SM: It has given me a world of music, artistry, feeling, laughter, beauty, and friends.
It has taken away fear, self-doubt, and exclusion.
NA: What is the hour like before you go on stage?
SM: Quiet, nervous, with a dash of worry on the rocks!
NA: If you could experience one performance over again, which one would it be and why?
SM: The first time I saw Judy Garland concertize and met her. A fantasy had become reality and was unbelievably even more dazzling than imagined.
NA: What are you most proud of?
SM: It seems I have made a positive difference in so many performers' lives.
NA: What is your first memory of performing and where was it?
SM: One of a chorus line of The Plymouth Meeting Friends School Children dressed as Arabian
dancers in The Nutcracker.
Between the costume, spotlights, and rouge, I found my destiny.
NA: You have such an amazing connection with the audience when on stage. How did that develop or was it always there?
SM: Well, thank you. Perhaps, that is my most fortunate gift in this realm.
NA: You've booked many artists through the years. Who was most surprising to you on stage?
SM: Having auditioned hundreds and hundreds of artists over 40 years, a young, timid fellow named Clinton Leupp. He seemed slightly awkward, unusual yet smart, and touching. Uncertain as to what his entire act would be, but booked him none the less. The opening night of his show, he completely commanded the room, totally self-assured, and the place went wild giving him a standing ovation. You probably know him now as a star of film, nightclubs, and television: Miss Coco. This also affirmed that auditioning is indeed a skill, not necessarily indicative of how one may be in a real performance. For some, they nail the audition, but never offer anything more in their actual show. For others, the insecurity, pressure, fear of being judged and rejected may inhibit the ability to do their best under the circumstances, but if "accepted/hired", erases that negativity and gives them the validation to soar on stage.
NA: What is something you haven't yet done that you would like to accomplish in your career?
SM: Having done a bit of everything: commercials, cabarets, concerts, film, musicals, plays, radio, television - Would certainly like to do a bit more!!!
NA: What are three tips you'd give to a new person who wants to perform in cabaret?
SM: Study and take classes. - In addition to the instructors, you connect and discover you are simpatico with a new world of fellow artists.
See as much as possible live. - I was blessed to see a myriad of legendary entertainers of the 20th century in person. Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Bing Crosby, Eartha Kitt, Ethel Merman, Sammy Davis, Jr., Miss Peggy Lee, Pearl Bailey, Alice Faye, Anthony Newley, Barbara Cook, Judy Garland, Marilyn Maye, Barbra Streisand, Ray Bolger, Robert Preston, and countless others. Each and every one bestowed a matchless Master Class in performance.
Say yes to opportunities to be on stage whenever and wherever. - Most valuable, you learn something every time you come up to bat.