Annaleigh Ashford follows up her Tony-winning performance in You Can't Take It With You with another comedic tour-de-force in Sylvia.
She plays a dog that Greg, a man who seems bored with his job and his life played by Matthew Broderick, finds wandering in Central Park. Greg names the dog Sylvia and brings her home to his New York City apartment much to the dismay of his wife Kate, wonderfully played by Julie White.
Kate and Greg are now empty nesters, and Kate has gone back to school and found a job that she loves. She and Greg seem to be in a different place in life. He is bored with his job, looking for something fulfilling, and after years of raising children and caring for her husband, Kate is ready to dive into her career, and caring for a dog is not in the picture for her.
Anyone who has ever owned a dog will be charmed by Ashford's fantastic performance (and judging by the roaring laughter from the audience, most of them owned dogs). She is sassy and funny, and when she curses other dogs at the park, I laughed so hard because I imagined my dog used to think the same things.
Ashford has said that to prepare for her role she took dog obedience lessons with her own beloved dog, and her commitment shines through in her performance. She even managed the wet dog eyes. (I absolutely love her in Showtime's Master of Sex as office manager Betty, another award-winning worthy performance.)
Robert Sella steals the scenes he is in as three different characters, especially as Leslie, the therapist and Phyllis, the socialite. Broderick is very low-key in his performance, and I guess that is because Greg is so low-key.
I wasn't crazy about the ending to the show. You can't compromise when it comes to dog ownership, and someone has to give in. Let me just say that it's clear the author of the play is a man.
This is a show worth seeing for Ashford's performance, and I would recommend it as you can find discount tickets. It is a limited run show, so if you want to see it, more information is here.