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Cabaret Hotspot’s Sue Matsuki got to have a little one-On-one time with Shawn Ryan in anticipation of his upcoming performance at Don’t Tell Mama.


Shawn, Tell us how it feels for you to be coming back to New York and doing your show at Don’t Tell Mama.

“I was literally just asked this question last night. I adore New York City and it’s adoration of cabaret and live entertainment. There is no other city in the world that welcomes our type of show with such huge open arms and a deep sigh of relief! I adore New York and I love playing Don’t Tell Mama where you can literally reach out and touch the audience and the band is all huddled together on stage creating that amazing sound, there is just nothing like it!

Don’t Tell Mama was the first place I ever saw cabaret happen when I was 17 years old and looking at colleges and to perform there is a dream come true.”

Tell us about the show. Is it a holiday show? Is there a theme? Or, is it just your wonderful, wacky, fabulous self?

“Our new holiday show is in honor of our new album, “Shawn Ryan Live!” and this show is called, “Mistle-Ho!” Over the past 11 years, I’ve participated in a fabulous Holiday benefit in San Francisco for the Richmond Ermet AIDS Foundation and each year Director, David Galligan, would ask me to create a new Holiday comedy piece. Well, 11 years later we had a show. It only took 11 years. LOL. So you’ll see me as Artie the Angel sitting a top a Christmas Tree singing “Who Put the Stump up my Rump a Bum ba Bum?” and asking the oh so important question, “Where’d the other HO go?” in regards to Santa losing one of his Ho, Ho, Hos.

It’s our take on some of your Holiday favorites and we hope that you leave not being able to get our lyrics out of your head so that you’ll take all the jokes to the water cooler the next day.”

How long has it been since you last performed in New York?

“I was in New York in the fall of 2016 to perform at Don’t Tell Mama and at The Cabaret Convention. That is always such a magical time of year. We all go from Town Hall to Don’t Tell Mama and then they see how many of the hundreds they can pack into that room. The electricity that those audiences create is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.”

What is your all-time favorite review quote?

“The love child of Bette Midler and Peter Allen, Shawn Ryan is PURE ENTERTAINMENT!” – The Tri Valley Herald

“To be even sort of be compared to those two legendary performers made my heart leap.”

How difficult is it for you, as an out-of-towner, to come to New York and get an audience? Do you still have many friends here? 

“Thanks to social media, I think we all get to remain so connected these days. Of course there is nothing as wonderful as living in the same town as your friends, I really do consider the world to be my home and I love coming back to New York to play.

In terms of getting people out of the house to see live entertainment, we’ve never had a problem with New York City! And, because of the praise and press this new live album is getting, we are finding that most of our tour is selling out fast. I can’t tell you how amazing that feels! Singers know. To have a sold out show that sells out pre-show day means so much!”

How are you marketing your show? I think my readers would like to know this, especially those people from out of town considering doing a show here in New York.

“Back to the old social media game I go. I adore Facebook and Instagram for getting the word out there. We use a series of videos and clips from past shows to entice our audiences. I’m always fully honest with people too and will offer a money back guarantee if you don’t love our show.

One thing that I have found that has really helped, is keeping the ticket prices as low as we can. Our musicians fly all over the U.S. and there are hotels and flights and food. (Musicians like to eat!) But, I know that I LOVE to see as many shows as I possibly can! And I like to bring new friends to see Cabaret.

If people have $40+ covers, it makes it very cost prohibitive for a lot of my pals to attend. So, we keep our covers between $20-$30, ALWAYS! And we don’t play clubs that are going to charge $17 for a Martini. Unless the garnish is a $10 bill. We just don’t do it. There’s no need. We have plenty of amazing rooms in this country that want people to come in two or three times a month. Respect the audience member and their wallet and they’ll love the show even more. And, if you’re someone who has some extra cash, you’ll buy a few CDs and get your holiday shopping done.”

Besides this tour and the show, what else have you been up to lately? Do you still run that performance camp for young people and, if so, tell us a little bit about that.

“18 years ago, right out of college, I was working in a theatre camp as an Associate Director and I simply adored it. A year later, when that program had ended, my husband thought it would be a great idea to do our own theatre camp and I was like, “How hard can it be?” 17 years later, we have 700 campers a year, a staff of 50 amazing theatre and film professionals and each summer we have 4 sessions (and also a Winter Film Camp). It is absolutely the most rewarding and fun thing I get to do all year.

Teaching kids recharges my creative battery and the camp itself has inspired  so much of my creative endeavors. CampYATC is the happiest place in the world for me and my hubby and I’ll always be so grateful to him for proposing the idea and then building  this magical world with me.

Let me and Cabaret Hotspot know a few months before camp starts and we will help get the word out! Tell me about the Shawn Ryan Live! album.

“Our new album is a 2-Disc Live Recording – One disc is Holiday inspired with all of your favorites like “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney” and “The Twelve Daze of Christmas” in which I take a shot after each verse. Wish me luck on that one on the road! The other disc is all our comedy favorites for the rest of the year like “If I Can’t Sell it, I’ll Keep Sitting on It” and all the show’s patter so hopefully, it’ll feel like you are right there in the room. It’s available at

If you order for the Holidays, I’m signing every single one! You also get a free Digital Download of the Album! Alternatively, it’s available on all digital streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.”

Thank you for spending a little time with us here at Cabaret Hotspots. We wish you every success in your upcoming show and welcome you back to New York with open arms. 

For anyone wishing to see Shawn’s show, take a look at his flier or please refer to the information below:

Shawn Ryan
“Shawn Ryan Live! in Mistle-Ho!”
Saturday, December 15th @ 8:00 pm
Don’t Tell Mama

Link for Tickets:
$25 / 2-drink minimum (Cash Only!)

The Kelly Park Band

Kelly Park on Piano

Marco Panascia on Bass

Mike Lunoe on Drums