One of the most symbolic moments in actor/singer Tym Moss‘ one-man, one-night-only show at the Manhattan hotspot Pangea arrived as soon as the engaging performer ascended the stage: He removed his face mask, declaring, “I am happy to rip this sucker off!”— to enthusiastic applause. With a persona as colorful as his wardrobe that evening, Moss couldn’t be a better harbinger of joy to usher in an era of renewal for New York City. The opening number was Life of the Party, a song from the underappreciated 1997 musical The Wild Party. The selection couldn’t be more appropriate to open the festivities of the night. Soon afterward, Moss gave the audience a crowd-pleasing medley of tidbits from pop music’s greatest baubles, with a decided preference for some of his favorite female AND male divas: Whitney, Gaga, Cher, Prince, Michael Jackson, and… Debby Boone?! The medley, FYI, started and closed with one of Moss’ favorite divas: Barbra herself. It was a celebratory musical segment that reminded the audience just exactly WHAT we were celebrating: Live cabaret is BACK… and it’s here to stay! In a show awash with inspirational stories about loving yourself, fighting adversity, and finding your true calling in life, Moss’ show also embodied the true meaning of “Pride”, which was appropriate since the night was kicking off Pride Week at Pangea.
Tym Moss’ solo theater piece, directed by Lenny Watts and featuring musical direction and piano by Andrew David Sotomayor, is indeed autobiographical, complete with musical storytelling of his life’s soaring highs and crippling lows. The crippling lows came in the form of a tortuous 20-year addiction to drugs and booze, which Moss both spoke candidly about and musicalized with a pulse-pounding, tense reworking of Duffy’s Mercy. At its heart, Tym Moss’ theater piece tells that oh-so-familiar story about yet another small town boy who is eager to become a star. As we all know, that pathway to fortune and fame– or a reasonable facsimile thereof– has its challenges. For Tym, one of those challenges was growing up “different” in the 70’s and ’80’s in the countryside of Indiana. Tym recalled how he never heard people talk about being gay, but unfortunately he heard the words “faggot”, “homo”, and “queer” quite often. The loneliness and isolation were perfectly, and agonizingly, represented in Moss’ rendition of Creep. Moss stripped away any cool detachment off Radiohead’s original version, leaving only raw, heartbreaking emotion. It’s no exaggeration to say there wasn’t a dry eye in Pangea’s intimate space. Moving on to the agony of unrequited love, Moss brought Do You Want To Dance? (In the style made famous by yet another diva, Bette…) to new levels of feverish romanticism. But of course, there were some joyous moments when Moss told of moving to the Naked City as a fledgling actor. Can we say “sexual awakening”?! Moss delivered the raucous Bring On The Men (from Jekyll and Hyde, The Musical) segueing into the Weather Girls’ iconic It’s Raining Men. Can I get an “Ah, MEN”?!
Ultimately (SPOILER ALERT!), Tym Moss did indeed find true happiness after overcoming his addiction and rediscovering his destiny to be a singer and actor. That revelation is expressed flawlessly in Tym’s rendition of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever segueing into I Can See Clearly Now. When Tym sings that iconic lyric “Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for!”, an infinite number of meanings materialize on that stage.
In a show lasting just about 80 minutes, Tym Moss packed a wallop into this very original and very personal piece. The audience alternately laughed, cried, sang along, and experienced a spiritual awakening. Running through the entire performance was Moss’ charm, humor, and bona fide talent. Yes, Ms. Streisand, our Tym can indeed hit those challenging musical notes, whether he’s singing about the heartache of loss or the incomparable joy of finding one’s true self (and NEVER letting that self go once you’ve found it). Above all, what comes through is Moss’ sheer joy of performing. As his show demonstrates, that joy of performing can quite literally save your life.