I believe in love at first sight. Call me a romantic. I think connections can be instant and lasting. And I think it extends to friendship, too.
I’ll never forget the day I met Christopher Ryan. The mythology of Mr. Ryan was strong. Christopher had been the tenor soloist in the church choir I sing with (CPC singers, holla!)–part of the esteemed alumni of paid section leaders/ringers that make the rest of us sound like we know what we’re doing. Everyone who knew him loved him, unequivocally. By the time I joined the choir, he had moved to NYC, but his presence still rang through the stories in the choir loft years after he sang his last C5 there.
It is no exaggeration when I say the talent we get through the choir is top notch. We seriously work with the best of the best. Our soloists have gone on to illustrious careers on Broadway, operas around the globe, professors at nationally recognized music programs and composers, conductors and featured soloists. The opportunity to finally meet Christopher Ryan in person came in 2009 when our tenor soloist, James Kryshak was a National Semi-Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions being held in New York City. My sister, Holly lives in NYC and I will take any excuse for a reason to visit. I asked Jim if I could go—he said yes—so I went! And I learned Christopher would be attending, too.
Our fabulous director, Kathleen Otterson arranged the meeting. It was a very convoluted process that went like this: Christopher does not have a cell phone, but his partner, Richard does. You will receive instructions on where to meet them when you arrive in NYC. The morning of the auditions, the call came in. Go to the Starbucks at 63rd/Broadway. You will find two men, one tall, one short. You will know them when you see them.
And I did. Immediately. In five minutes, I think we covered all of life’s important topics. Christopher and Richard were as advertised. Simply the best. A friendship was born.
Since that meeting in 2009, I try to see them when I go to the City. I’ve seen them sing in their wonderful choirs even performing music composed by Christopher. Richard and I are in the same industry, so we’ve crossed paths at conventions. But like most friendships, it’s never enough.
But there are Christopher’s emails. There is nothing like getting an inbox alert that a Christopher Ryan original has arrived. Because Christopher has opinions. And Christopher is an incredible writer. And Christopher sees EVERYTHING in NYC. All the Broadway shows. All the art exhibits. All the operas. All the dance. All the movies. EVERYTHING. (okay—not everything, everything. it is nyc, after all. but close.)
And Christopher writes reviews. His reviews make me feel like I’m hanging in the lobby at intermission with him getting his hilarious first take. Who else would use the Cole Porter line “Is it the good turtle soup, or merely the mock?” to explain his issues with the new musical, “War Paint?” And his weekly recaps of Project Runway are the sole reason I haven’t bailed on that show years ago.
I’ve been pushing Christopher to start a platform to share his writings with the world. (well, me and everyone else who knows him!) Everyone should get to experience his “Spamilton” review, his travels with Richards, PR critiques like “dull, like a French maid costume, she just needs a hat with a doily” or the anticipation of his “Top Five Favorite Movies of the Year” list.
And it’s finally here! Christopher has launched divamensch.com. Whether you live in one of the five boroughs or wish you did for a few moments a week, Christopher’s posts are for you. An added bonus is his weekly Diva Mensch feature where he pays tribute to the great pairings of history.
Today happens to be Christopher’s birthday. I’d love to give Christopher some new readers–and subscribers–to his fantastic collection of writings. I promise you’ll love it. Who wouldn’t love a person who closes a letter” You rock and so does this CD!”?
PS: I was not paid for this endorsement–although I do serve on the Diva/Mensch pairing “International Panel of Judges”–and received a fantastic mix CD that includes both “Easy Lover” AND “Last Train to Clarksville” for my efforts. 🙂