Shawn Ryan: Live in Mistle-Ho

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Shawn Ryan

Live in Mistle-Ho

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

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Shawn Ryan

A Shawn Ryan show is somewhere between “Just Jack”—but with talent—and “RuPaul Drag Race”—minus the drag, unless you consider his angel-on-top-of-the-Christmas-tree outfit. A wild mix of the outrageous and the generous, the sarcastic and the sentimental, the evening was simply great fun.

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The show began with Ryan having transformed himself into a human disco ball and firing off a Donald Trump sex joke in the first minute, so the audience was prepared for anything, and they got it.

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Among the delights of the evening were honky tonk tragedy, “Santa Lost a Ho,” and a bluesy “If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sittin’ on It” with all the double entendre of the lyrics played for all they are worth. Also, very seasonal and very funny, were “Santa Got Stuck in My Chimney” and special lyrics to “All I Want for Christmas Is…,” definitely not his two front teeth but a lower part of his anatomy.

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Spelling his time on stage during extravagant costume change were special guests Shaynee Rainbolt and Terese Genecco, who delighted the audience about the search for “politically correct” Christmas songs before swinging into “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller). Ryan’s young protégé Paul DeVincenzo offered up “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and even his band—Kelly Park (piano), Marco Panascala (bass), Mike Lunoe (drums)—got to scorch the place with some hot jazz.

But at the center of this joyous show was Shawn Ryan, chasing anyone’s holidays blues away, no matter what holiday he celebrates.

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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."