Byron St. Cyr: 4600 Mithra: My New Orleans

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Byron St. Cyr

4600 Mithra: My New Orleans

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, January 15, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Byron St. Cyr
Photo: Larry Hamilton

As a child, Byron St. Cyr spent a lot of time in his grandparents’ home in New Orleans located at 4600 Mithra.

There he first discovered a wide range of music, from jazz to country to rock and roll to classical. He even discovered show tunes before he knew they were show tunes (Christmas morning meant John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” – who knew it had lyrics – or melody?).

All of these genres were celebrated in St. Cyr’s excellent show. Above all, his delightful personality and free-wheeling sense of humor, along with his keen musical sense, made the evening something special. Kicking off the show with a rocking “Big Chief” (Earl King) and followed by a swinging “That Old Black Magic,” the singer quickly demonstrated his range and sensitivity to lyrics with a bluesy “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.”

He then announced that, although he had been advised that certain songs should not be swung, it was his show and he was going to swing them if he wanted to. With that, he launched into a surprising version of “The Miller’s Son” that indeed utilized a jazz style without ever losing the lyrics or melody, and allowed him to show off both his humor and his characterization abilities. This was following by a heartbreaking version of “Every Day a Little Death,” shared with guest star Derrick Cobey.
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A bongo-only backed medley of songs from West Side Story, à la Sammy Davis, Jr., was one of the few misfires of the evening (despite superb playing by Derek Swink) because it lacked any of the heart that the singer thrives on.

Emotion was clearly present when he paused the show to Facetime his grandmother to wish her a happy birthday, and followed a community sing of “Happy Birthday” with a silky serenade of “Stormy Weather.

” He wrapped up the show with an emotional “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” (Eddie DeLange and Louis Alter) and several audience-demanded encores.
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Throughout, in addition to Swink, St. Cyr was strongly supported by pianist/musical director Drew Wutke and bassist Joe Wallace.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."