Sidney Myer Shines Even More Brightly at Pangea

 

Sidney Myer

 

By Myra Chanin

 

Sidney Myer is the incarnation of multifaceted. His morning noon and night job? He’s the kind, attentive, generous, supportive, sensitive and savvy, beloved booking manager of Don’t Tell Mama’s Cabaret Multiplex. Mention his name to any performer who worked there on stage or as a server, and you’ll get the same identical response: I love Sidney Myer.

Sidney is also a modest but brilliant artist. One of a kind. Inimitable. Distinctive. Treasured. Matchless and rare. “A beloved, latter-day vaudevillian…an engagingly mischievous dispenser of musical repartee,” said Steven Holden in the New York Times, “Disarming, funny, preposterous, touching and utterly unique,” wrote Alix Cohen in Broadway World.

I consider Sidney Myer a cross between Noel Coward and Fannie Brice. His blend of sophistication and style, sentiment and kitsch will have you roaring with laughter one moment and wiping away tears a few seconds later. In the past, the inappropriately modest Sidney Myer limited his on-stage performances to group events to which he’d been invited where he sang one or two neglected early 20th Century ditties in a devilishly naïve, insinuation-laden au currant style and was always astonished by the waves of appreciative applause his enactments received.

All that changed last April when Kevin Maloney, the producer of “Sundays at Seven” at Pangea, offered Sidney a one-man show with the proviso that he add contemporary material to appeal to hip Pangea patrons.

Did he? You bet! Did it? You bet! The show sold out so quickly that a second appearance was scheduled which also sold out immediately. Sidney and his longtime Director, Peter Schlosser developed a new 13-song program which mixed tried and true with new. In the ballads, Sidney talk/sung one man’s feelings of love for another man, prepared to reveal all of himself to a world now primed to accept it.

This year, Sidney has been given a three-night stand at Pangea. And his show is different but just as, if not even more delightful. He’s more comfortable on stage, looser, and gets even more out of each song than he ever did before. His clown’s body and his facile witty eyebrows each deserve their own OMG!

In non-intrusive, de rigueur, cabaret head-to-toe black, Sidney steps in to the showroom, with Tracy Stark on piano and Tom Hubbard on bass. Mic in hand, he devilishly begins with Frederick Hollander’s “I May Never Go Home Anymore,” singing it with more passion than Marlene Dietrich did in Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair! After all, who better than a person of the same sex would know not only what “sailors are for,” but exactly what keeps a gob coming back!

A sweet pop trio – “You’re the Cream in my Coffee,” “Sing a Rainbow” and “Bella Notte,” delivered with great clarity and perfect phrasing, wanders between Sidney’s acquired British accent mixed with remnants of the Morristown PA dialect he learned as a boy.

Then something new which Sidney has turned into his personal property: “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore,” — the Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe tune Jeff Harnar insisted Sidney sing at the 2018 Cabaret Convention program on the night which honored Lerner. Sidney milked Lerner’s delicious rhymes for even more than they were worth. “The Fountain of Youth is dull as paint, Methuselah is my patron saint …” and Lerner’s aging evaluation of eternal love, “Forevermore is shorter than before.”

Sidney made the most out of Francesca Blumenthal’s hilarious “Between Men,” which describes how one wiles away the hours between love affairs – learning French conversation, how to roll sushi, real estate evaluation and finding options other than playing Barbie to Ken. His bold reading underlined his mastery of finding clever songs and speaking the lyrics when the melody wanders out of his vocal range. The four killer ditties that followed were wonderfully familiar to anyone who’s followed Sidney’s career and found hysterically funny by those who have recently discovered his oeuvre — “Pheromones,” “The Dinner Party,” and “Mary Cohen” (also spelled maricon.)

Then came the pause that refreshes when Sidney revealed his New York adventures from the Magic Pan to Panache to Don’t Tell Mama, starring Quaker Oats and featuring Mary Steenburgan and Kelsey Grammar. Every hilarious word was true and funnier than anything I’ve read in The New Yorker during the past decade. And Sidney enjoyed telling these tales just as much as the audience enjoyed hearing them.

Two passionate gender-irrelevant love songs by Mark Sonnenblick followed. The first “Dance with Me Slow,” from Midnight at the Never Get, a musical which worked out its kinks at Don’t Tell Mama before moving to a fully produced state at the York Theater Company where it’s currently being performed, and just got a well-deserved rave in the NY Times. The second Sonnenblick tune for which Ben Wexler supplied the lyrics, describes the ideal way to travel to Paris — “We never left the room … and all I saw was you.”

Lead me to that travel agent.

“Good Advice” and “So Nice to Have a Man Around the House,” two of Sidney’s tried and true but never tiresome ended the performance. A standing ovation followed which led to John Wallowitch’s tender ballad, “This Moment,” which says that life is all about this moment and it certainly was.

One performance still to come at Pangea on Sunday night November 25 at 7 p.m. is well worth seeing to complete your Thanksgiving weekend.

Photo: Maryann Lopinto

 

Pangea 178 Second Avenue. $20 cover, $20 minimum.

www.pangeanyc.com

 

 

 

 

 

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