There’s a kind of natural camaraderie among devotees of performer Sidney Myer, as if each and every one feels like the member of an exclusive club. Myer, who’s been intermittently in front of a microphone most of his adult life, seems to be experiencing another flowering of public approbation. Long a beloved member of the cabaret community, his unique interpretation of both uber-familiar and highly eclectic material is a bona fide treat. Few arouse both abandoned laughter and silent tears with the same seemingly effortless delivery.
“I May Never Go Home Anymore” (Jack Brooks/ Ralph Arthur Roberts) Myer sings quietly from the back of the room: I may never go home anymore/Dim the lights and start locking the door/Give your arms to me/Give your charms to me/After all, that’s what sailors are for… Anyone roiled in his/her day has now shed it like an unseasonable coat and is paying stop-time- attention. He has us- instantly.
Leave it to Myer to follow this with 1928’s “You’re the Cream in My Coffee” (Ray Henderson/ Buddy G. DeSylva/ Lew Brown) a number so familiar we usually take it for granted. Every word counts, every sentiment lands. Suddenly the lyric is tender rather than flip. Myer can do that. Most of us know Arthur Hamilton’s “Sing a Rainbow” as a childhood memory game, a recitation of colors rubbing shoulders. The artist imbues it with wistful hope.
Francesca Blumenthal’s wry “Between Men” (oh the lessons one learns!) and Steve Lutvak’s “The Dinner Party” sing like pieces in The New Yorker or Punch. Despite sophisticated writing, Myer appears ingenuous, not dumb-blonde-obtuse, but sweetly unaware that anything’s other than normal… We were bagel makers to the Czar/The lineage goes back very, very, very far/I think Ivan was the one/Who when fed up with the bun/Sent his men in search of something starchy and bizarre…(Lutvak)
Signature numbers “It’s So Nice to Have a Man Around the House” (Harold Spins/John Elliot) and “Pheromones” (Joan Cushing) offer the performer at his coquettish best. “A very wise man once said, if you want to get the right partner, be the right partner.” Palms open, eyebrows rise, there’s a slight shrug; savoring one word, pausing before another; sighing repetition of “nice,” “man,” “house,” these convey innuendo in the first and seduction in the latter. “Read my hips!” Mae West would’ve loved him.
“Dance with Me, Slowly” (Mark Sonnenblick) and “All I Saw Was You” (Mark Sonnenblick/Ben Wexler) from the musical Midnight at The Never Get are among this evening’s highlights. (Sonnenblick is a winner of this year’s prestigious Jonathan Larsen grant.) Heart in throat, Myer conveys a plea for love so powerful only its surface can risk being exposed, then, infatuation, gratitude and surprise at the presence of a lover. Tunes are stirring, lyrics unfussy and conversationally poetic, emotions empathetic. Deftness here recalls Stephen Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle.” One of my favorites- and that of its author.
The well sequenced show draws us next into one of Myer’s extremely droll recollection monologues, this one centering on his early days in New York, an aspiring performer working at The Magic Pan (crepe restaurant) next to Hammacher Schlepper (Hammacher Schlemmer) on East 57th Street. “My template was Marlo Thomas in (the television show) That Girl.”
Allen Sherman/Lou Busch’s “Good Advice” succeeds humor with buoyancy. As Myer faux marches, we join the irresistible chorus. Many clap in time. The show closes with “This Moment” (John Wallowitch/Bertram Ross) as delicate as its ever been, leaving us feeling hugged.
Tracy Stark’s work here is symbiotic and swell.
Photos by Maryann Lopinto
Sidney Meyer – Live at Pangea!
Part of “Sundays at Seven” presented by TWEED TheaterWorks
MD/Piano- Tracy Stark
“All things bass and beautiful”– Tom Hubbard
April 23, 2018
Pangea 178 Second Avenue at 11th Street