Club Review: Sidney Myer

December 11, 2021 | By

For many years, Sidney Myer has been well known to us as the kind, funny, and encouraging impresario at Don’t Tell Mama (and previously, Panache). Every once in a while he would take the stage at a fancy event and sing a song or two to everyone’s delight. In recent years, he began appearing in Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway on a fairly regular basis. Then, after not performing an act in 25 years, the Mabel Mercer Foundation asked him to do a fundraiser for the organization. Sidney performed two shows at the Laurie Beechman Theatre which sold out (dates had to be extended) and were recorded as a DVD.  Then Sidney “just kept going”; on to Pangea, selling the place out again and again and delighting his audiences and the owners who adore him. And why not? He is hilariously funny while simply raising an eyebrow, or gently thrusting a hip. The very sound of his voice holds double-entendres that titillate. His material is uniquely suited to his personal combination of humor, innocence, wonder and mischief.

Sidney Myer (Photo: Stewart Green)

Each delivery is subtle, as if he is simply giving us sage “Good Advice” (Allan Sherman, Lou Busch) set to music, and the audience is so engaged they begin to sing with him, including during the aforementioned, as well as “Pheromones” (Joan Cushing) and “Mary Cohen” (Chuck Prentiss), and others. Though “Mary Cohen” is a play on a Spanish profanity used to insult a gay man, the whole audience was loudly and lovingly singing the refrain “Mary Cohen.” I know for a fact a couple of people in my crowd had no idea what the joke was but sang enthusiastically nonetheless!

The repertoire is a combination of signature Sidney Myer comedy and some of the most beautiful ballads and offbeat choices (“The Kerry Dance,” written in 1879 by James Molloy and originated by Margaret Casson in 1790). Myer doesn’t ignore the Great American Songbook or Broadway composers, as songs by Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin/Charles Strouse, Johnny Mercer/Gene DePaul, and Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick make appearances as well. 

Myer’s pacing of the show is perfection. Every single song is in exactly the right place. He speaks barely at all, except to give us a unique list of the people he has booked in clubs in his life. (Hint: It ain’t completely glamorous, but from Sidney Myer, it is funny), and to say his thank you’s. There are some audio effects, provided by percussionist David Silliman, which are quite funny, and musical director and pianistTracy Stark also plays the flute on “The Kerry Dance” and provides minimal backing vocals. The trio, including bassist Skip Ward, was in top form. Kudos to  director Peter Schlosser whose phone must be ringing off the hook with potential clients.

The inclusion of Dance With Me (Mark Sonnenblick) from Midnight at the Never Get was especially poignant. Listening to him perform a show that would have been seen only in some secretive back room somewhere 50 years ago, I gave thanks to the universe that Sidney Myer has the freedom to be who he is, and the rest of us get to learn, enjoy, and leave with a feeling of love and warmth and gratitude. 

***

Presented at Pangea on November 8. 15, 22, 29, 2021.

Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Though now Betsyann Faiella is known in New York primarily as a publicist, she came to that profession from two previous careers that contributed to her love of promoting creative people: as a working singer and as a media producer. She made her cabaret debut at the legendary Reno Sweeney. She was the lead singer in a band with Lewis Friedman, the impresario of both Reno Sweeney and s.n.a.f.u. Later she performed in such other iconic venues as Birdland, Blue Note, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and Ronnie Scott's in London. She appeared in concert with jazz legends Hank Jones and Paul Smith and performed at arts centers and universities around the country.

Comments (1)

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  1. sande Shurin says:

    Sidney has always been a light to the community.