Friday, September 09, 2011

Michael Sartor

Michael Sartor passed away this morning.  He will be missed on so many different levels. 
We met when he played the piano at Charlie's Place. He was an easy friend and humble in his excessive talents. 
We were just kids in every sense of the word. In times of pure tedium trying to entertain the Ft. Worth night club audiences, Mikie was there to make us laugh.  It was always fun to be around Mikie.  He could make you laugh with his wit or by playing a song on the piano that was perfect for the moment.  He arranged the playback songs for my act.  The next time I go on stage, it will be Mikie's performance that will orchestrate my own.  To call him clever with his music is to say that Itzak Perlman plays a good fiddle there was just so much more to Mikie. 
He was a talented teacher and coach as well.  His staff position at AMDA put him in contact with many students who came to love him as we all did.  With his coaching many have gone on to full careers in the performing world and to honors of their own.  He was my sister-in-law Claudia's favorite collaborator. They produced countless showcases for the talented performers of AMDA giving just the right numbers to show off their strengths.  
I remember one evening at Charlie's Place there were a series of signs dotting our path from the dressing room to the stage for all the performers to see.  Like Burma shave road signs, every few feet there would be another.  They all said basically the same thing, "Toll ahead... pay Toll".   When we finally made it onto the stage there was a tip jar on Mikie's piano with one final sign... it read  "I'm Toll".  He would organize fashion shows made of the props and costumes back stage between shows.  He wrote music with our friend David Sinkler and had a way to join two musical ideas with an inspired cleverness and joy that was Michael Sartor. Few musicians have the ability to put their humor into a sheet of music; Michael was the best at that. 
If you were lucky enough to have known Michael you were blessed.  There are few like him in the world and it is a rougher place without him. 
Our mutual friend Kristopher Kyer was with him at the end.  Kris told me that one of the last things he whispered to Michael before he made his transition was, "Claudia is waiting to greet you..."  I have no doubt she was and I know the performances "on that side" are about to be so much better.  I hope they save a spot for my act. 
"No Wei, Michael.... you can't really be gone." 


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your thought...I miss "Toll" dearly already....

Kris Kyer

Anonymous said...

Michael was my teacher at AMDA NYC in 1985.
I loved him dearly. He was one of a kind.
-Nancy Katlin Willinger

Darius de Haas said...

Thank you for your article. Michael Sartor was a teacher of mine at AMDA as well and instrumental in getting my foot in the door when I started working in NYC. I'm very sad to hear of his passing. He will be greatly missed and his memory greatly cherished.

Darius de Haas

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thought. I (we) lost our shinning guiding light and miss him dearly, but like you said, we are so blessed and lucky to have known Michael.

Yuki, Garbo and Chaplin

Anonymous said...

Thank you