Goodbye, Old Friend.

When an acquaintance posted on Facebook Saturday afternoon that the famous Angus McIndoe Bistro on 44th Street was closing on Sunday night, my boyfriend said we absolutely should go after our dinner and movie (which we happened to be seeing on 42nd street) on Saturday. I have such great memories of Angus from The Broadway League holiday dinner party in 2007 to sitting at the bar next to one of the producers of American Idiot (who would later become a friend) before the first preview to just having a drink there back in the day before a show when Sardi’s was too crowded and we were too lazy to walk down to 9th Avenue before or after a show.

The bartender told us they’d been notified of the closing the night before that they were out of a job after Sunday night. We watched Matthew Broderick walk by a few times (since the casts of Sylvia and Something Rotten were upstairs partying) and Stephen DeRosa randomly popped in too while enjoying a few beers. I chatted with the bartender about theatre and about how much I’d miss this place, despite how little I ventured to it in recent years. 

We were almost the last ones in towards 1am when we closed out our tab, wished the bartender good luck, and grabbed a cab home. 

I’ll always have good memories of Angus. The best we can hope for now is that it doesn’t become a Chilis or another Guy Fieris. RIP to another theatre district staple. 

Sylvia

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. 

After much internal debate, I gave in yesterday and saw Nice Work If You Can Get It. I went into it with an open mind, with most people having told me that it was a good show, a cute show, and not that bad, with only one “it was awful” from a good friend. The cast was top-notch: Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, Judy Kaye, Jennifer Laura Thompson, and Estelle Parsons comprised a majority of the leads. George and Ira Gershwin are American legends, so I knew what the music was going into it. The only thing I didn’t know was the plot. 

I was so terribly bored during the first act. The plot (boy meets girl, they fall for each other, but the boy is already married, and the girl is a con artist) was thin and most of the songs chosen to flesh it out barely moved the plot forward at all. The second act was unquestionably better though, though I can’t pinpoint why. I think it was because I liked the the wrap-up of who everyone was. Also: Judy Kaye gets “drunk” and sings while swinging from a chandelier.

The choreography was very good (though I still think Newsies’ and Evita’s were better) and the company was fantastic. Broderick can still sing and dance with ease, but his acting was phoned in (though it’s not like his character was complex or well-written enough to need any depth). O’Hara sings well and acts her slightly better written character convincingly, but she does better when she’s given better material to work with. Kaye was entertaining in her role and if it weren’t for her easy competition for the TONY this year, I don’t think she’d be a shoe in. But considering that her competition is the star of a show that no one saw and a violinist with two lines, among others, she probably has this one in the bag. Thompson played her usual character that she plays in every show she is cast in (though she does it well), and Parsons is entertaining in her small role. My personal favorite was Chris Sullivan, as Duke Mahoney, a bootlegger. He was vocally talented, and also endearing.

Nice Work will run for a while because of the cast and also because of the baby boomer generation that loves the Gershwins. It has it’s moments, but even with an open mind, it couldn’t win me over.