Dan Kryston came into my life around 1999 or 2000, or I should say, I came into his, as he was at that time the co-owner of Piaf’s, a cabaret and restaurant in the San Francisco neighborhood that is still today the hub of the SF cabaret community. I don’t remember exactly the first time I met him. I think I was a little awed by him, as I am in a certain way by all club owners.
Through the years our lives kept touching each other, first through the environment of his club, but then through the arts education community, when he surprised those of us who didn’t know a lot about him, and popped up at San Francisco’s School of the Arts, where he touched many lives through one of his most significant contributions, the gradual creation of a Musical Theatre Dept., for which he worked tirelessly.
Exactly a week ago today I was observing in the vocal studio of a colleague with whom I became friends thanks to Dan. Several years ago, Dan produced a cross-generational concert version of Follies, inviting several singers he knew from the Piaf’s days to participate. Barry Lloyd was the musical director; Barry and I had performed several times at Piaf’s together –- New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, The Cabaret Competition — and those occasions are still pretty vivid in my mind. In the production of Follies, I met Shannon Day, a singer and teacher whom I admire a great deal. I don’t remember, but I think she was heroically filling in for someone who could not do the show, but she was the vocal teacher of many of the talented SOTA high school students who also took part in the production, and she was excellent. We’ve been friends ever since; performing together, discovering other ties in the music and education communities that connect us.
It was at Shannon’s studio last Thursday that I heard of the passing of Dan Kryston. The bittersweet tang of tears comes up as I write of the ironic timing. Dan had for years been working to establish a Musical Theatre Dept. at SOTA, and had just succeeded, brimming with enthusiasm to go forward. The last time I saw him was this past spring at an AMAZING student production of Seussical. At intermission he was selling sponsorship of chairs – chairs that would be occupying the SOTA theater when the renovation was done. I hear it has just been completed.
Why, in this moment, did he pass, from pneumonia of all things, and in a hospital? I can’t fathom this.
Dan Kryston had a million children in this town. His artistic children; people whose lives Dan touched and who hold his legacy within them: Striving musical and cabaret performers, students and families at SOTA, and his numerous colleagues, so many. Lots of offspring.
I invite you to post pictures and make comments, to forward this blog, so on.
I would also welcome any info on how to contact his sister, who used to own Piaf’s with him, to pay my respects.
Thanks, Dan, from all of us.
Here’s a posting for reference that I found: