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  • Calia Brencsons-Van Dyk

The Show Goes On...and why I love Harold Sanditen


I met Harold nine years ago at Yale when we both took part in the Annual Cabaret Conference organized by my very dear friend, Erv Raible. I had known Erv for many years but I had never been able to join him at Yale due to my busy production schedule. I am thankful that I finally made it, as it would be the last year of the conference. Shortly thereafter, Erv passed away. Yale was an incredible adventure and I met many talented people there who have touched my life in many ways. So while Erv may have left us, his legacy of love, support and encouragement lives on. It is particularly alive and well here in London at Harold's Open Mic Party at Cafe Zedel.


Harold Sanditen has been a live theatre producer for well over two decades and is a stand out cabaret performer. Roughly six years ago, he started an open mic in the West End, that has been recognized as one of the best in London...why? because he welcomes some of the best talent from around the world to the stage and because of his love performing, of live music and genuine respect for other performers - which is why we all love Harold.


Harold was the first friend that I (literally) ran into when I arrived in London. It was shortly after our Westie, Ginnie had died and Joseph and I were on a scouting visit to London. We had just been to the Princess Diana playground, and as we were leaving we saw a little westie leaving the park. We were so focused on the dog (as dog owners usually are) that I had barely noticed the dog. I asked the dog's owner if we could pet his dog, and as he looked at me to agree, I got my first glimpse of the owner - low and behold - there stood my friend and cabaret colleague - Harold...the years melted away, and as Joseph pet the dog and wondered why his mother was so excited, Harold and I hugged and caught up.


It wasn't long after that that I walked on the stage at Zedel as one of the Open Mic "virgins" - and met an incredibly supportive and talented group of performers. I was new to London but right away felt at home on the stage. I could not attend as often as I would have liked but followed Harold virtually from one open mic to another, one show to another.


I was not surprised that the reviews were so positive and read something like this:


“It’s fun and funky and has to be the best value entertainment in London” – Thanasis Kalantzis​, Cabaret Scenes

“This is no ordinary open mic… a glorious selection of treats and surprises at every turn… a genuinely entertaining evening for audiences” – Fiona Coffey, Cabaret Scenes Magazine

“There may be quite a few open mic nights in London, but few of them have either the cachet, class or camaraderie that emanates from this central London venue… the range and diversity of the talent is fascinating… slick, self-assured and thankfully fairly unpredictable” – Paul Vale, Musical Theatre Review


When the pandemic started, performers, much like restaurant, pub and caffe owners had to rethink everything, and, sure enough, Harold was one of the first to jump on the wagon. Thus the Brasserie Zedel crew were reunited virtually via Zoom with Harold singing and hosting and keeping the mood light, playful and joyful for all of us who were now working and self isolating in our homes across London.


It was a breath of fresh air during a very trying and emotional time for many of us...and I will forever be grateful for the sheer joy that Harold brought to all of us.


I was honored to be put on the roster and to share the screen with some of my talented, mentors, peers and fellow cabaret singers...the show must go on...and we are all looking forward to being in the same room with each other to celebrate each other and once again be a part of live performances in London. Until then...let's meet virtually at Harold's open mic.


On September 10th, Harold will host another open mic party virtually. For more information - check out The Harold Sanditen Open Mic Party Page on Facebook.


We will meet again...but until then...keep singing, keep dreaming, and keep working..



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