NAME: Pamela Myers
WHO IS SHE: Actor and singer who was the very first graduate of CCM’s musical theater program in 1969. She started on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim’s Company, a performance that earned her a Tony nomination and ushered her into a career that took her from New York to Los Angeles.
At what age did you leave Cincinnati?
I got such a diverse education at CCM. I had conducting, I had theory—which I flunked my first quarter—and everything musicians take. I did several musicals, and in 1968 we were the first to do summers on the Showboat Majestic. My senior year I was not required to give a recital, but I decided to anyway, just for fun. A visiting Broadway conductor came to my recital and said, “This is a girl who should be in New York.” My parents were amazing. Nobody had money to send me to New York, believe me. But I got there.
Why did you return?
It was spring of 1989, I think. We were driving cross-country from L.A. on our way to New York. We came to stay with my parents for a while; they lived in Miami Heights. My [then-husband] and I had decided to leave L.A. It was getting rougher and rougher there. We realized we’d never be able to buy a house, and our son was little. I’d get calls about doing stuff in New York, and we just decided if we moved to the East Coast I could certainly work more. I was coming into my prime then as a performer.
We figured we’d stay with my parents, save some money, then go east. But I loved being with my parents, they were really enjoying having Max here, my husband changed his entire career, and we stayed.
That was a huge decision, given your career. What was that adjustment like?
I ended up doing a lot of different things. We were going to our family church, where I’d gone my whole life. Our minister at the time really needed some time off and said, “Do you think you can do this?” So I got some training and I became a lay minister. I wrote all of my own sermons, did some show tunes. It turned out to be a good thing for me. And, of course, I became involved in Max’s activities and his schools.
How hard was it to find opportunities to perform once you settled here?
I did whatever work was available, but it was hard because I had to do union work. There’s a lot more professional work here now, but back then it was hard. I made commercials in L.A. and New York, and I did a few here, but they weren’t the same kind of contract. I taught from time to time in the prep department at CCM, and I have taught and directed at Xavier. At one point I was teaching “The Golden Age of Musical Theatre” at Xavier and I had to leave on tour for White Christmas at the end of October. Another instructor took the class over for me. Then when the show was in town for two weeks I went to campus and the students performed for me. When I did the revival of Into the Woods in 2002, my son was in high school and we were able to pull it off. But it was a nine-month run. See how difficult that would have been when he was little?
There were only a certain number of people here who knew who I was. When my son was in second grade, he told his teacher I would be gone a week because I’d been cast in Major Dad. She could not grasp it. So I brought her a mug from the set of Major Dad, and she was just floored. I didn’t intend to do that, it’s just that I was trying to work. So it was a challenge. The great part is that my son was brought up here with my parents. All of that was worth it. Now I’m in my 70s and again doing all these things. What a varied career I’ve had, and what wonderful friends I’ve made here.
When you arrived back here in the late 1980s, had the city changed?
I was gone all the way through the 1970s and most of the ’80s, so I don’t remember that much outside of being upset that they tore down all those theaters. I was disappointed in that. And I missed the old department stores.
What new things do you enjoy about the city now?
I think the new Music Hall is wonderful, and I’ll enjoy going back to that when things reopen. I’m glad they have touring shows and I love Ensemble Theatre, the Playhouse, and all the little theaters. I did a play at Ensemble, and I worked at the Playhouse several times. I love that there’s good quality theater here now. And I’m thrilled that some of the money we’re supposed to get because of the pandemic will go to the arts. People don’t realize how much the arts contribute to the economy, how many people work in the arts. It’s a huge industry in the city—in any city.