Michael D’Angora’s first job was at the TKTS booth — now he is a producer, and during the pandemic he and husband Tom raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to save West Bank Cafe, Birdland and York Theatre. This is Michael’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I was born in Lincoln, NE and I think I came out of the womb saying “hi everyone, nice to meet ya’, I’m heading to the Big Apple”. I was a one track mind. I wanted to be in the middle of everything. I was always attracted to NY movies and, coming from midwestern suburbia, I was so drawn by the grit, the art, the characters and the underground world. I ended up moving here right out of high school and have now lived here (mostly in HK) longer than I did in my hometown.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was my longest. I needed a job in college. I walked up to the promoters at the TKTS booth and asked one of them, “How do you get a job here? I think I might be good at it.” I ended up promoting Broadway and Off-Broadway shows there, and running my own promotions company, for over 20 years! But while that was my 9-to-5 (so to speak) my husband, Tom D’Angora, and I produced our first Off-Broadway show in 2005, my first year out of college. I might be the only person in show business who’s never waited a table, but Lord knows I hustled for every ticket sold!
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
The first NY moment that pops into my head — my husband (then, new boyfriend) and I took a red eye from LA (we were producing Ellen Greene’s CD) back to the city. We were living on the LES. It was like 6am and the cab driver was such an A-hole because he wouldn’t take the old lady in the cab line in front of us to Staten Island (or something like that). When we got out of the cab we barely tipped him for being rude to an elderly woman and he started calling us all sorts of gay slurs. At 6am, a drag queen who was peeing in the phone booth, overheard, came out and started yelling at him “Oh no, you do not use that language around here. You on the wrong island Mother F-er”. Since then, “You on the wrong island Mother F-er” has been a pretty common phrase in our household.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
Convenience, food, wonderful neighbors… did I mention convenience? I can get just about anything I want or need within a 10 minute walk. If I need retail I’m 10 minutes to Hudson Yards or Times Square. Straight shot to Bryant Park. On any given night I can choose from all the cuisines of the world and have it delivered to my front door. Broadway is in my backyard. My one complaint — we need a neighborhood bookstore. Will someone get on that? 🙂
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. If I need to know something to get a job done, I will learn it instantly. Show me something once and I’ve got it. But like all super powers, it comes with a downside. I’m very impatient, I don’t understand when others don’t remember things, and I want everything done five minutes ago.
What else should we know about you?
The new show we’re producing, Walking with Bubbles, at the AMT Theater is quite the New York VERY TRUE story about a single mother, working on Broadway, living in Hell’s Kitchen, and trying to manage a severe mental illness affecting a loved one. It looks at a lot of relatable topics and genuinely makes you see homelessness in NYC in a very different light.
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Michael’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
West Bank Cafe — 407 W42nd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
West Bank Cafe is THE PLACE in HK. End of story. The food is great and reasonably priced. The ambience is warm and inviting. Casually upscale. You will see EVERYONE from the neighborhood there. And Steve and Janet treat everyone like family.
The Brazen Tavern — 356 W44th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
This is our easy breezy go-to. We’re lucky to have a few great Irish Pubs and sports bars in the area, but Brazen takes the gold medal! The food is great, the back room with the fireplace and couches are so comfy, and the bartenders seem to know everyone’s name and order after their first visit.
Delphinium — 353 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Need a quick gift? A campy tongue-in-cheek card? Great wrapping paper? I’ve been shopping there since it was across the street, then on 9th, now back on 47th and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.
Amy’s Bread — 672 9th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
Carbs. Homemade goodies. And more carbs
Lady Blue — 363 W46th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
We just had our opening night party there for Walking with Bubbles and all of our guests had a blast! It’s adorable, the food was delicious, the cocktails were out of this world, and the staff was so friendly. Perfect classy cocktail spot on Restaurant Row. Very welcome addition to the neighborhood!
AMT Theater — 354 W45th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
It’s a wonderful intimate new Off-Broadway theater…and we’re thrilled to be producing a few shows there right now! Walking with Bubbles is our latest show and I can’t think of a better home for this NYC story than right in the middle of HK.
El Sabroso — 265 W37th Street (bw 7th/8th Ave)
It’s literally a stove and a counter top in a loading dock serving up delicious Latin American food. It’s soooooo New York. It’s not like those fake speakeasies or gimmicky places. It’s the real deal.
Target — 615 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
One downside of HK is we have very little retail. I’m not a huge fan of shopping at big box corporations, but Target has been a very welcome addition in making my day-to-day life easier and a little more affordable. Make sure to have them “price match” at the register. I always save an extra few bucks!
The W42ST Newsletter
Not a place but a thing — I know so many people who read it daily, myself included. Connection and community are so important in this insanely large city and the newsletter does a great job of making me feel both.
You can follow Michael on Instagram @MichaelDangora. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself) please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.