Last Friday I went to see Sylvia, the new play about a man and his dog. I’d heard Annaleigh Ashford was killing it and I expected nothing more than a performance of a bored fish from Matthew Broderick, because let’s be honest: phoning it in is what he does best nowadays. Love him, but it might be time to retire now.
Ashford brilliant portrays a poodle found wandering around Central Park who is adopted by the meek and equally as lost Greg (Broderick). Greg’s wife Kate (the marvelous Julie White) is bordering on fuming when he brings Sylvia home. Greg is warned by a fellow dog owner (played by Robert Sella, who plays multiple roles throughout the night) to get ready for trouble with his wife because his wife doesn’t want a dog and because it has a human name (which has some kind of psychological effect on a person). The premonition comes true but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending
Robert Sella, killing it in front of my eyes since at least 2005, was perfect in his many roles that night. He’s a brilliant comedic actor. Julie White, another favorite of mine, although not at her funniest, got lots of laughs (not her fault, but not every script can be Little Dog Laughed-level of comedic brilliance).
I actually thought Broderick was kind of adorable. He still used that same, sort of annoying, whoa-is-me Charlie Brown voice, but it kind of worked.
The star of the night was, of course, Ashford. She saved the revival of Rent as Maureen and I don’t think she’ll ever disappoint. She is one of the great character actors of my generation. Her physicality as a dog was perfect. I really have nothing else to say expect: perfect. And: hilarious.
It dragged a bit and it could easily be shaved down to an hour and 45 minutes with no intermission, but nevertheless, if you have a free night, go laugh out loud at Ashford.
So I finally got to see Kinky Boots last week. My friend grabbed two standing room tickets which were totally fine, view-wise. I’d heard many great things, like choreography and cast, and that this is the show that might beat Matilda for Best Musical. So I had an open mind.
Full disclosure: I’m incredibly, incredibly biased with regards to the Best Musical this year, I know. I think Matilda is the best thing since Rent (that’s an awful comparison, I know).
Verdict: I thought it was a well- written musical. Some of the music was very catchy and the cast was phenomenal. It had moments of serious boredom though. And I spent the entire first act waiting for the amazing choreography. The only amazing choreography was in the act one finale and the show finale.
Stark Sands is incredibly endearing and of course has an amazing voice. Annaleigh Ashford is hands down hilarious, with an incredible voice (and her character is definitely paying a bit of homage to Cyndy Lauper for sure).
And Billy Porter. MAN. I’ve always been keenly aware of his immense talents but he just blows the roof off the Hirschfeld with his performance. I think Porter and Ashford might reason enough to see this show.
The themes behind it, as directed by the brilliant Jerry Mitchell, are a tad confusing. Maybe a bit convoluted too. It’s partially about a drag queen coming to terms with his difficult relationship with his father but at center of that journey is a heterosexual relationship? Maybe it’s not meant to be analyzed in such a way.
I really did enjoy it. Do I think the choreography is competition for the likes of Matilda and Pippin? Certainly not. Will it win Best Musical? I’m nervous there’s a chance, purely for the fact that Lauper’s name is associated with (she did write the score, after all).
So I’m glad I saw it (so I can have an educated opinion about it and all that) but I’m still crossing my fingers for Matilda.