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Articles by Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (665 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

Wives

September 17, 2019

Ms. Backhaus’ writing is erudite, well-shaped and imaginative but isn’t funny which is problematic considering it’s intended as a barbed comedy until its heartfelt metaphysical conclusion. Much of it frantically plays out with Monty Python’s intellectualism crossed with Mel Brooks’ coarseness and dashes of Alan Bennett’s pathos. Virginia Woolf figures prominently in one part. Though noble in intent, it’s an unsatisfying exercise that’s more synthetic than profound. [more]

Belleville

September 8, 2019

The small studio theater space where the show is performed with its basic living room scenic design informs director Cameron Clarke’s resourceful and bold staging. Working in such a confined environment with the actors in close proximity to each other, Mr. Clarke emphasizes the piece’s claustrophobic, paranoid and menacing tones with vividness. Unseen ominous events taking place in the offstage bedroom and bathroom incite terror. An open window with shutters becomes a focus of dread, with the outside world represented by eerie red light and sounds of sirens. With the cast’s explosive performances and a command of the visual, Clarke realizes the play’s uneasy power. [more]

Laughing Liberally: Make America Laugh Again

September 7, 2019

The latest edition of the recurring political humor show "Laughing Liberally" is titled "Make America Laugh Again" and is decidedly anti-Trump. It’s created by the brilliant veteran comedian John Fugelsang who is ubiquitous on radio, cable television news shows and comedy clubs. Mr. Fugelsang introduced it and his headliner 45-minute set was the finale and contained many bright spots. Each performance has a different cast in between and at the one under review, five polished comics did their acts. [more]

Felix Starro

September 4, 2019

The score with Ms. Hagedorn’s sharp lyrics and composer Fabian Obispo’s pointed melodies in the manner of Stephen Sondheim and John Kander is quite accomplished with its rousing group numbers and rich solos. Highlights include an eerie sequence with one sick person after another seeking rejuvenation, a Billy Flynn "Chicago"-style bit documenting Felix’s past popularity and an acidic anthem by a mercenary San Francisco female florist who deals in black market identity papers for illegal immigrants. [more]

Contact High: A New Musical

August 23, 2019

Hass directed and his stilted staging is adequate. Simple entrances and exits, cast members going through the theater’s aisle and basic character interactions occur. Some performances are excessively broad diluting the narrative’s impact. Playing a major part in a show as well as directing it is problematic. Hass’ joint choreography with Dana Norris is an uninspired series of rudimentary movement, jumping up and down, moving wheelie chairs around and clunky robotic flourishes. Hallowed masterpieces of musical theater are often alchemical artistic collaborations among a creative team. Without experienced objective directorial oversight, "Contact High" is lumpy. [more]

Sea Wall / A Life (Broadway)

August 20, 2019

On screen and stage Gyllenhaal has exhibited his talent and star quality to great effect many times. "A Life" is not one of those shining occasions as he is just passable in it. Stammering, shrugging and halting like Woody Allen in Annie Hall’s prologue is how he starts off and later alternates jokiness and histrionic emotionalism as the piece’s lugubrious events unfold. This is simply an opportunity for fans of Gyllenhaal to see him in person and the performance succeeds on that level. [more]

Stormy Weather

August 19, 2019

Mr. Wills’ demonstrates a facility for dramatic writing with his snappy dialogue and fast-paced scenario that inspires laughter and also incites thoughtfulness. Amidst the merriment are keen insights into the gay male experience including aging, relationships and promiscuity. "Stormy Weather," though, is more Ray Cooney than Tony Kushner. [more]

Rinse, Repeat

August 10, 2019

Feraud’s scenario is structured as a series of taut precise scenes bursting with sharp dialogue and topical references including an Uber driver with a musical recording on Spotify. She drops well-timed details that advance her agenda of tackling the issue of the preoccupation with feminine physical perfection. We learn of Peter and Joan’s strained marriage that is characterized by resentfulness over financial inequity and past infidelity. Everything reaches a realistic and dramatically satisfying conclusion. [more]

Bat Out of Hell-The Musical

August 9, 2019

The score is derived from the catalog of songwriter Jim Steinman’s "Bat Out of Hell" album trilogy whose songs were immortalized by Meat Loaf. Mr. Steinman’s  accomplishments as a composer and lyricist are monumental. As a librettist he is dreadful. His negligible scenario borrows heavily from "Peter Pan" (a doomed character is actually named Tink), the hoary stilted dialogue is reminiscent of Flash Gordon cliffhangers and it’s all often ill-matched with his iconic songs. Much of it is supposed to be funny.  It all makes "Bat Out of Hell-The Musical" a numbing dysfunctional slog. Very often, on-stage actions are projected on to a very large screen opposite them with characters followed around by videographers dressed in black. We get to watch schlock twice simultaneously. [more]

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

August 3, 2019

As the romantic, tubercular and charismatic Satine, the magnetic Ms. Olivo delivers a ferocious, sensual and grandiose performance that’s one of the most memorable recently seen on Broadway. Her sensational characterization is more Eartha Kitt than Nicole Kidman and all her own. Clad in slinky costumes, the voluptuous Olivo perpetually dazzles. Her titanic singing and dancing is matched by her intense acting which grounds the busy production with riveting focus. Her “Diamonds are Forever” is spellbinding and there’s saucy humor when it’s followed by “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Material Girl” and “Single Ladies.” [more]

Little Gem

August 2, 2019

Ms. Murphy’s writing is a rich amalgam of biographical data, pivotal incidents and humane observations. The monologue structure has the three characters alternately expressing themselves in the same recurring order with often all three on stage but not interacting with each other. Through this theatrical device, Murphy enacts her eventful scenario. At 100 minutes without an intermission, it does lag, particularly the introductory portions which too leisurely introduce the characters. However, Murphy does create three zesty roles. [more]

Rock of Ages

July 31, 2019

"Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard in a smashing live rendition accompanies a lusty production number at a seedy Los Angeles strip club with scantily clad pole dancers and creepy patrons. It’s a splashy set piece in this uproarious Off-Broadway revival commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Broadway hit "Rock of Ages. " It’s also notable because previously Def Leppard wouldn’t allow their songs to be included in this 1980’s hit singles jukebox musical. “Rock of Ages” in a recorded version is heard after the show ends and the audience leaves. [more]

A White Man’s Guide to Rikers Island

July 27, 2019

Wearing a green prison uniform, the tall athletic blonde curly-headed Mr. Stewart who is in his early 20’s delivers an enthralling performance. Speaking in smooth rich tones that convey a youthful sensibility, Stewart powerfully details the grim experiences of life on the inside especially for a privileged white man.  Not only is he riveting as Roy, Stewart masterfully portrays a gallery of figures Roy encounters. These precise impersonations include his black trans cellmate, a black Muslim he befriends, a menacing Puerto Rican gang member and an amiable corrections officer. Vocally and physically Stewart is impeccable and truly carries the play to success. [more]

Tender Napalm

July 26, 2019

The power and majesty of the theater are affirmed by this ravishing production of the acclaimed English playwright Philip Ridley’s two-character play, "Tender Napalm." For 75 enchanting minutes on a bare stage we follow the fantastical exploits of a young man and a young woman apparently shipwrecked on a jungle island. They engage with monkeys, aliens and serpents and time passes through a gloriously written cascade of memories, erotic verbal exchanges and biographical details. There’s mention of “A dildo shaped like a dolphin from the lost city of Atlantis.” [more]

Jacqueline Novak: Get On Your Knees

July 23, 2019

Dressed in gray jeans, a gray T-shirt and white sneakers, the gutsy seasoned comic Ms. Novak expertly paces, gesticulates and does wild double take after double take while clutching a microphone. With her soothing yet expressive vocal tones Novak confidently delivers her masterfully crafted material. It’s comprised of a multitude of classic setup punchlines, precise observations and breezy conversational riffs. The results are very funny and thought provoking. “Death is coming” sets off a somberly pragmatic rumination as there’s more than sex to her routine. [more]

I Spy A Spy

July 21, 2019

Cluttered, lively and quaint, the zany musical comedy "I Spy A Spy" is reminiscent of the sort of lightweight material directorial legend George Abbott would have had a go at in the late 1960’s. This show recalls the Abbott efforts "How Now, Dow Jones" and "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N" that William Goldman analyzed in his classic 1969 behind the scenes account "The Season." Abbott did his best with those disappointments just as the creative team for I Spy A Spy does. [more]

Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth

July 20, 2019

Dedicated to “creating socially and politically acute theatre for the 21st century” the PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project) for their 33rd season offers this exuberant revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1979 two one-act plays, "Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth," which cheekily satirize the theater and political oppression. Inspired by Wittgenstein and his fellow Czech playwright Pavel Kohout, Mr. Stoppard as he did in his monumental "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" again here ingeniously appropriates Shakespeare for his own ingenious purposes. [more]

Not Even the Good Things

July 17, 2019

If ever a play needed a talkback afterwards, Joseph Scott Ford’s bewildering, grating and slight "Not Even the Good Things" does. By the end of its gobsmacking 75 minutes, the eerie ever-present appearance of a bedraggled little girl in a red T-shirt who interacts with a single character is never explained. Is she a ghost? A symbolic apparition? Or a figment of his depressed imagination? This is never conclusively answered. [more]

No One Is Forgotten

July 14, 2019

Playwright Winter Miller offers a shakily hollow mélange of Genet, Beckett and Pinter with her two women in a prison cell scenario taking place in an unnamed foreign country. Ms. Miller’s dialogue is well-shaped and achieves sporadic humor and emotional resonance but to no real purpose as her effort comes across as an artificial exercise rather than a realized play. Without explanation sometimes only one character appears, and we’re left to conclude, “Maybe it’s a flashback or one was taken away and returned. Did one of them die?” [more]

The White Dress

July 13, 2019

Packed with emotion, adolescent angst and eventfully picaresque, "The White Dress" is playwright Roger Q. Mason’s passionate autobiographical saga of a “gender non-conforming queer person of color.” It’s boldly presented and contains vivid performances, but the amorphous structure and idiosyncratic writing dilute its momentum. [more]

John Burns Is a Sexy Beast

June 28, 2019

Gracefully clomping around in silver pumps and clad in a short-sleeved black jumpsuit, the upper portion adorned with shimmering multi-colored sequins in the configuration of the rainbow, the heavyset, bald, mature and bespectacled Burns is a triumphant vision of gay pride. This visual quality is matched by his outstanding vocal abilities. Possessed of a soaring tenor voice, distinctive phrasing and absolute aural clarity he richly mines each well-selected song to optimum effect. [more]

Casting Aspersions

June 26, 2019

Passero’s expressive tenor voice, twinkling eyes, seasoned character actor presence which recalls that of Michael Tucker and jovial personality enables him to entertainingly chronicle his interesting life in 75 breezy minutes. The memory of his parents bringing home the original cast recording of Cabaret incites a smashing rendition of "Willkommen." It’s one of several delightful musical interludes with selections from Applause, equally as accomplished. A wicked Nicholas Cage is among his several spot-on impressions of those he’s been in contact with. Mentioned in stories are Paul Rudd and Leonardo DiCaprio. [more]

Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom

June 23, 2019

Employing her charming accent with its expressive vocal cadences and exhibiting her alluring sleek physicality and charismatic presence, Moloney totally embodies Molly Bloom as she forcefully conveys the icon’s humor and wistfulness. She authoritatively enacts a myriad of often sensual personal reflections with colossal flair. Whether gleefully reciting Joyce’s graphic dialogue, laying on her back with her legs spread or squatting over a chamber pot, she is fearless in delivering her searing dramatic and comedic characterization. [more]

Galas

June 19, 2019

This first-ever revival of "Galas" intentionally coincides with World Pride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprisings. It honors the memory of Ludlam who died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 44, affirms its high reputation and demonstrates that its eternally funny. It’s performed at the historic and under repair Theatre at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street in Manhattan which is close to Sheridan Square where the original production premiered and to the Stonewall Inn. [more]

The Great Novel

June 19, 2019

The perennial tale of a noble servant exploited by a self-absorbed upper class family is given a bewildering and tedious treatment by playwright Amina Henry in "The Great Novel." It’s an enervating 95 minute mashup of lesser Ionesco with helpings of Wes Anderson and the visual style of John Singer Sargent. [more]

Camp Morning Wood: A Very Naked Musical

June 19, 2019

Living up to its title, a racially and physically diverse game company of ten male performers really are nude throughout "Camp Morning Wood: A Very Naked Musical." It succeeds as a joyous flesh parade but disappoints as an actual theater piece. What might have been an engaging encounter group-style exploration depicting facets of the gay male experience is instead labored with a flatly comical cornball plot that’s dragged out to two hours with an intermission. [more]

A Strange Loop

June 19, 2019

Twenty-five-year-old African-American Michigan native and New York University graduate Usher is an usher at a Disney Broadway musical who is writing an autobiographical musical about his troubled life. His religious Christian parents are scornful of his sexuality and dubious of his career goals as he doesn’t emulate the commercial simplisticness of Tyler Perry who gets skewered in a production number. This exploration is light on plot and so we get a series a of overheated vignettes often laden with wan shock value. The often didactic dialogue relies on scatology peppered with the N-word. Dark comedy crossed with poignancy abounds. [more]

Convention

June 14, 2019

Regrettably these achievements are marred by hollow tangents, diluting the play’s potential power. Having come up with a such a novel premise, Rocco is carried away by a concern with form rather than straightforwardness. Much of it plays out like subpar Robert Altman with empty cross talk, heavy- handed overlapping dialogue and strained comedy. The whimsical device of a hotdog vendor caught up in the action is overused and becomes a drag despite Brandt Adams’ gruff charm and masterful comic timing. [more]

Brief Chronicle, Books 6-8

June 3, 2019

“It’s best when each performer is older, or younger, or of a different gender- expression, ethnicity, or ability than you might expect. This keeps the play vibrating in your imagination” are from Borinsky’s stage directions. For this production we get a youthful cast playing roles opposite their presumed genders with skillful exaggeration. [more]

Madame Lynch

May 31, 2019

Eliza Lynch (1833-1886) was an Irishwoman who grew up in France and became a courtesan. In 1854 she began a relationship with Francisco Solano López, the son of Paraguay’s president. He later succeeded his father and Lynch became First Lady. He was killed in battle in 1870. Her time in Paraguay was controversial as she was thought to have instigated wars and conflicts. She was banished and returned to France, dying in obscurity. Thank you, Wikipedia, for these details because they’re scant in this treatment. Ms. Sherwood and Mr. Flanagin are more concerned with superficial theatrics rather than concretely crafting a comprehensible narrative chronicling the life of a fascinating figure who was a cross between "Barry Lyndon" and "Evita." [more]

Messiah

May 29, 2019

Flashbacks, speechifying, conspiracy theories involving J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, disco sequences, the scourge of crack cocaine, hip hop numbers, other-worldly fantasies and violence all play out on scenic designer You-Shin Chen’s terrific runway stage with its several levels, a mirror ball and a raised DJ booth. Strobe lights, sirens and a multitude of musical snippets accompany the actions of the people of color and trans characters. [more]

Happy Talk

May 19, 2019

Abrasive as a subpar episode of Maude and reaching a sour psychological thriller-style finale out of Craig’s Wife, Happy Talk is playwright Jesse Eisenberg’s muddled family drama.  It’s the 1990’s and the New Jersey Jewish matron Lorraine is playing Blood Mary in a community theater production of South Pacific and so in addition to the jokey title we get a barrage of painfully cute musical comedy references. Scene transitions are accompanied by blaring snippets of Mitzi Gaynor who played Nellie Forbush in the film version. The combination of Mr. Eisenberg’s smug sensibility, inane contrivances, shtick-ridden dialogue, condescended-to characters, and slack construction all make it a tiresome one hour and 45 minutes. [more]
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