Old Friends at Pangea

Old Friends Again at Pangea in Manhattan's East Village. Photo by Tulis McCall
Old Friends Again at Pangea in Manhattan's East Village. Photo by Tulis McCall

NEW YORK – Old Friends at Pangea

At Pangea last February, Barbara BleierAustin PendletonGretchen Cryer, and Richard Malby, Jr. converged on this intimate venue to reprise their popular Old Friends cabaret show. And now they are up to their old tricks once again. May 2 at 7 PM.

You can save yourself some time and go to the Pangea site HERE 

These four old friends have known one another for around 60 years. They have wisely chosen music from their own repertory – written by Maltby & Shire, Cryer and Ford with a sprinkling of other notables (Amanda McBroom and Stephen Sondheim).

Their opening featured “Spring Cleaning,” which was originally performed in 1959 at Yale – which, of course, was not admitting women at the time. The writers (Maltby & Shire) had to look into the community for women. In walked Gretchen Cryer (then married to a Divinity School student), and there you are. Barbara and Austin met when she invited him to join her in her cabaret act (“You’re only asking me to do ONE song” was his famous retort…)

So we are looking at about 250 years of experience – and damn, isn’t it a great view?

They continue down the sweet lane of reminiscences. Beginning with “Old Friend” by Cryer and Nancy Ford from “I’m getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road,” which is almost tongue in cheek as they sing of the troubles of old and young romances. We jump to decades later with a song that could be pulled verbatim from couples therapy as one complains that the other was never “There” (Maltby & Shire).

Pendleton and Maltby give us the hopeful, jaunty tune “Love of Your Life” of the young lads who ran off to Woonsocket to find love and whatever else the world had to give before they returned home. The show makes a hairpin turn into Bleier’s exquisite rendition of “God Of War” by Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman: “…do you listen while the mothers softly weep? May I ask you, Sir, do you sleep?”

A hopeful note is what Pendleton gives us with “The Story Goes On” – a song of immeasurable proportions as a man realizes that he is joining the ranks of fathers who see what will come after their time here on earth. Bleier takes on the next chapter of parenthood as she follows a young child marching into life away from his home.

Maltby sings a memory song about his and Shire’s fathers, who were both band leaders, “If I Sing.” “If there is joy in making music, it is you who put it there…” The room was brought to a still place as we walked the path of father and son.

A song of motherhood – regrets, love, and fact – is Cryer’s next contribution (and is joined by Paul Greenwood, who is not only extraordinary on the piano but is the perfect partner for any duet at any time). He has a solo turn for the introspective “My Most Important Moment” from “The Last Sweet Days Of Isaac” (Cryer & Ford) and delivers the goods.

Cryer Introduces “Too Many Women” – a love song to a computer (written decades ago) from the musical “Shelter.” Pendleton directed the first production and cut the song. Cryer blames the short run on the absence of this song, which is why Pendleton is ‘forced’ to sing it. It is a brilliant ode.

“It Ain’t Over” from the Sequel to “Getting My Act…” – it is the lament of two octogenarians who insist that wisdom IS IS IS sexy and THEY are not done until THEY say so. Full Stop.

“Old Love” (McBroom & Brourman) is the delicate tale of love that reaches through the decades to score another direct hit. Have we not ALL thought of the what-if moments? The two meet again, and there is a delicious button that ends the tale with a surprise twist.

The evening closes with “Old Friends” (Stephen Sondheim from “Merrily We Roll Along” and please take it from me that the rendition in the present incarnation on Broadway pales in comparison. These four performers have lived the magic, the tragic, and the ordinary. Lucky for us, they have lived to tell the tale.

This show is sentimental, heartbreaking, hilarious, and intimate. It would be easy to dismiss on the surface as an evening by, about, and for older folks. Au contraire matey. These performers are vital and vibrant; from where they stand, life is a grand adventure. The past is fascinating and still revealing secrets overlooked. The present is thrilling. The future is a basket of possibilities.

This quartet reminds you that you are alive. This show is a gift.

Old Friends at Pangea

With Barbara Bleier, Gretchen Cryer, Richard Maltby, and Austin Pendleton.
Musical Director – Paul Greenwood


178 2nd Avenue, May 2, 7 PM. Tickets HERE.

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Mother Play at the Hayes TheaterFingers and SpoonsUncle Vanya at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln CenterStill at the Daryl Roth TheaterLas Borinqueñas at the Ensemble Studio TheatreSally and Tom at the Public TheaterLempicka at the Longacre Theatre, and The Who’s Tommy.

Old Friends at Pangea


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

More to Explore..

Buy Tickets to any Event, Show, or Game at Event Tickets Center

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x