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Articles by Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (633 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.

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]

#yourmemorial

May 14, 2019

The black-accented stage has a raised runway platform, a square platform, a bench and some furniture. From these basic elements, scenic designer Susannah Hyde crafts an ideal landscape for this non-realistic piece that allows its times and locations to shift smoothly. Ms. Hyde’s outstanding projection design of social media imagery and illustrative photos is shown on the stage’s back wall.Resourcefully working on a minimalist level, director Emily Lyon achieves fluidity, some lovely stage pictures and the fine performances with her inspired staging.  Sammy Jelinek’s dreamy lighting design and Carsen Joenk’s beating sound design contribute to an otherworldly dimension. [more]

Around the World in 80 Days

May 12, 2019

Laughter and oohs and ahs abound from an audience of all ages during this exuberant and wildly theatrical stage adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel "Around the World in 80 Days." A gray cloth transforming into an elephant, model ships held aloft and actors wearing headdresses portraying a herd of buffalo are among the dazzling low-tech pieces of stagecraft on display. [more]

Original Sound

May 10, 2019

The eternal heartbreak of show business is given a fresh spin in playwright Adam Seidel’s exhilarating contemporary drama, "Original Sound" that skewers the music industry. Mr. Seidel’s scenario has many familiar elements, but the writing is impeccable, the performances are superior, and it's electrically presented. [more]

Friendly’s Fire

May 8, 2019

Viewing the abstract configuration onstage that could be from a Whitney Biennial before "Friendly's Fire" begins instantly informs us we’ll be in a fantasyland. Indeed, playwright John Patrick Bray offers a surrealistic odyssey fusing together the dreams and battlefield memories of a disaffected Gulf War veteran with aspects of Hollywood Westerns and other pop culture genres. Mr. Bray’s writing is intense, often striving for absurdist comedy, and has a great sense of purpose. It’s all rather baffling, somewhat interesting and mildly entertaining. [more]

Lockdown

May 7, 2019

Ernie Morris is a middle-aged widowed African-American writer who arrives  at a contemporary unnamed prison to be a volunteer. A young corrections officer explains in great detail all of the rules and regulations. The inmate she becomes closest to is James “Hakeem” Jamerson, nicknamed Wise. He is a 62-year-old African-American man who has been incarcerated for 46 years for shooting and killing a police officer during a pawn shop holdup when he was 16. Over his many years of imprisonment, he’s matured, having gotten a college degree and leading an education program. He’s been continually turned down for parole and Ernie agrees to help him with his statement for the next parole board hearing. Will they succeed? [more]

The Brothers Paranormal

May 5, 2019

Is a young Asian woman a ghost or a melancholiac’s hallucination? That is the haunting question vividly answered in playwright Prince Gomolvilas’ gripping thriller "The Brothers Paranormal" which crackles with tension from start to finish. It’s a masterfully written synthesis of "Blithe Spirit," "The Amityville Horror" and "The Sixth Sense" with shades of Stephen King. Comedy gives way to terror as its Asian and African-American characters also battle their own personal demons. A floating pillow is a frightening sight and Ella Fitzgerald’s 1960 live Berlin recording of “Mack the Knife” becomes a spooky touchstone. [more]

The Bigot

May 3, 2019

"The Bigot"’s mouthpiece is the splendid Stephen Payne. Scruffy and silver-haired, Mr. Payne revels in Jim’s cantankerousness and physical decrepitude. Bellowing in his resonant twangy voice as if in a Sam Shepard play, Payne is able to make the most corrosive statements sound funny while expressing emotion. His vivid characterization emits humanity, making the crusty Jim much more than just an ogre. By the end of the play, the role has accumulated the impact of an Arthur Miller-type figure due to Payne’s intense performance. [more]

The New York Pops 36th Birthday Gala: “Hat Full Of Stars: The Songs of Cyndi Lauper”

May 2, 2019

"Kinky Boots" ’ uplifting finale "Raise You Up/Just Be" was a euphoric highlight of The New York Pops’ marvelous tribute concert "Hat Full Of Stars: The Songs Of Cyndi Lauper. " The 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Score and Best Musical’s original cast member Stark Sands was joined by Lena Hall, Alex Newell, the Camp Broadway Kids ensemble and the renowned 78-piece orchestra. Earlier, that long-running Broadway show was represented by the limber and magnetic Mr. Sands’ dazzling "The Soul of a Man" and the "Glee" star Mr. Newell’s soulful "Hold Me in Your Heart." [more]

Entangled

May 1, 2019

Culturally relevant, emotionally resonant but languidly conceived, "Entangled" dramatizes the issue of gun violence in the contemporary United States. Playwrights Gabriel Jason Dean and Charly Evon Simpson’s structure is that of alternating monologues for its two characters. The play’s chief flaw is their overly literate dialogue that would be suitable for a graduate writing seminar or one of Edward Albee’s more rococo works.  “Inside, the funeral home smells like potpourri and middle-class despair.” [more]

Link Link Circus

April 28, 2019

“Welcome to the smallest circus in the world!” exclaims the beaming Isabella Rossellini at the start of her self-written whimsical performance piece "Link Link Circus." “This show is a theatrical conference on the subject of Can animals think, feel, and have emotions?” explains Ms. Rossellini about the aim of this enchanting exploration containing scientific flourishes where she is joined by her dog and a puppeteer for a delightful 80 minutes. [more]

safeword.

April 26, 2019

Mr. Asher here continues to mine the subject of human sexuality, but lightning has not struck twice. That is chiefly due to Asher’s misguidedly grandiose direction (with associate director Mika Kauffman) emphasizing stylish spectacle at the expense of the clunky plot. It also slows down the numerous scene transitions. One ends, there’s dragged-out showy lighting and loud music, characters often walk around and then finally it’s on to the next scene. [more]

Then They Forgot About the Rest

April 23, 2019

Playwright Georgina Escobar presents an exuberant hodgepodge of sci-fi elements and satirical corporate bits with a feminist slant. Ms. Escobar’s punchy pseudo-scientific dialogue carries her choppy scenario with its shades of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" to sustaining the mildly entertaining 80 minutes. Escobar has a command of language, sprinkling catchphrases that land throughout. Early onset, end of days, extreme memory vetting, protein inhibitor and Petro Corp all get a lot of mileage. It doesn’t all gel, vagueness abounds but there’s spirited integrity. “…I’m asking improbable questions seeking impossible answers,” Escobar states in her program notes. [more]

The Pain of My Belligerence

April 23, 2019

Jaw-dropping plot twists, painfully forced au courant dialogue, awkward sex scenes and a jagged central performance all make the world premiere of Halley Feiffer's "The Pain of My Belligerence" a fascinating doozy of a bad play. The tone is a blend of Ingmar Bergman and Nora Ephron and the cosmopolitan milieu is reminiscent of Woody Allen and Lena Dunham. There’s the sensation of guiltily scanning a highway car accident scene that you can’t take your eyes away from. [more]

The Appointment

April 22, 2019

chorus line of singing and dancing fetuses follows the eerily comical beginning of "The Appointment" where we first meet them posed as if they’re in wombs and babbling in baby talk. When one of them is going to be aborted a hook as from a talent show appears, encircles their necks and pulls them offstage. It’s made quite clear that this mesmerizing offbeat musical will be thoughtfully exploring the issue of abortion. There’s lightheartedness with serious overtones. The overall quality is that of a television variety special of the 1970’s with comedy sketches, musical numbers and dashes of drama. [more]

All Our Children

April 15, 2019

“These are difficult times, a character observes in playwright Stephen Unwin's engrossing historical drama, "All Our Children," that crackles with tension. Nazi Germany’s forced euthanasia program for the mentally and physically impaired is the play’s searing concern. In a concise 90-minutes Mr. Unwin’s masterful writing expertly blends exposition, documentary detail and drama in this American premiere seen in London in 2017. [more]

The Humours of Bandon

April 12, 2019

The blonde, animated and spunky Ms. McAuliffe portrays 16-year-old Dublin resident Annie who’s been dancing since childhood. Wearing tights, a T-shirt and a varsity jacket, McAuliffe’s delightful characterization is marked by wise girlishness. She alternates between playing Annie, her sturdy stage mother, friends, and a few incidental characters, all with detailed verve and a pleasing accent. Her writing is a concise breezy amalgam of factual details, well drawn figures, and momentum. [more]

No Exit

April 8, 2019

Absent scenery, with a character excised and fiercely performed, this stripped down taut revival of Jean-Paul Sartre’s "No Exit" is quite compelling and faithful to the spirit of the original work. An operatic prologue is another novel flourish.It is presented by the Fusion Theatre which was founded by the Irish actress Eilin O'Dea in 2016 with the “concept that synthesizing the worlds of theater and opera can provide the ultimate theatrical experience.” Ms. O'Dea is truly the mastermind of this enticing production. [more]

June Is the First Fall

April 7, 2019

The personable Alton Alburo as Don manages to make this underdeveloped character compelling with his charming presence. Playing his father David with easygoing humor and poignancy is the outstanding Fenton Li. Stefani Kuo as Jane offers a winning portrait of familial sturdiness with her solid performance. Scott is vividly brought to life by Karsten Otto with his engaging blend of goofiness and soulfulness. Mr. Otto brings much depth to his scenes with Mr. Alburo regarding Don’s feelings for him. Speaking mostly in Chinese and existing as a domineering vision, Chun Cho does achieve a pleasing distinctiveness in the difficult role of Yu Qin. [more]

Faust 2.0

April 3, 2019

Director Sharon Ann Fogarty’s colossal staging weaves together the many disparate technical elements into a unified mini-epic event. Actors sit at a long rectangular table and their images are on display in front of them facing the audience. Hanging monitors show Jeff Sugg’s arresting video design of stylized imagery of clouds, the sun and abstractions. Numerous characters appear on video. Paris and Helen of Troy are represented with a gorgeous Paul Taylor-style dance by choreographer Kristi Spessard. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Sondheim: Wordplay”

April 2, 2019

Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s direction melded the performers with expert physical placement sprinkled with occasional dance bits that made for lively presentation. The event’s visual verve was amplified by the imaginative projection design by Dan Scully. In addition to illustrative images there were projections of Sondheim’s handwritten and typed lyrics as well as stylized photographic views. These were all continually shown on the auditorium’s back wall, beautifully complementing the performers and the speakers. [more]

Women Behind Bars

March 31, 2019

Referencing the 1950 women’s prison drama "Caged" and synthesizing all of the conventions of that cinematic genre, the late playwright Tom Eyen crafted the 1975 camp classic "Women Behind Bars." It’s been hilariously revived at the historic 13th Street Repertory Theatre in a punchy production lovingly directed by Joe John Battista. [more]

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations

March 30, 2019

"Ain't Too Proud to Beg," “Get Ready,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “You're My Everything” and of course “Papa Was a Rollin' Stone” are among the show’s more than 30 numbers. Besides those by The Temptations, there’s a choice selection of songs by their contemporaries such as The Supremes. All of them are rousingly performed by the orchestra and the company under the direction of conductor Kenny Seymour. [more]

Life Sucks

March 29, 2019

“Did you know that this play is called "Life Sucks"?” says a character in playwright Aaron Posner’s meta-theatrical Life Sucks. It’s a wild yet emotionally resonant work “sort of adapted from Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov.” Characters address the audience directly, they engage in sly wordplay, lollipops are consumed, overlapping dialogue is common and absurdism abounds in this free-form yet faithful treatment. [more]

Accidentally Brave

March 26, 2019

“Everything is copy” was Nora Ephron’s maxim about the potential of all of one’s life experiences to be fashioned into narrative material if one has the cachet to be paid attention to. Actress Maddie Corman sure has a lot of copy as well the affluence and connections to get it out there in "Accidentally Brave," her 90 minute self-written solo show. It’s profanity-laden therapeutic storytelling with high production values succeeding as inspirational entertainment for those with an affinity for her upscale sensibility. [more]

Remembering Duane Bodin (1932-2018)

March 25, 2019

The death of a long inactive performer with a fine career during Broadway’s Golden Age understandably went unnoticed. He was my neighbor in the 1980’s. [more]

The Day I Became Black

March 24, 2019

A searing epiphany at "The Day I Became Black"’s climax redeems its uneven mixture of confessional and stand-up. The show is written and performed by the engaging biracial young comedian and actor Bill Posley. During 80 cluttered minutes we sketchily learn about his stern though supportive African-American father and Caucasian mother of Kentucky “white trash” origin. The Boston-reared Mr. Posley charts the complexities of his racial background due to his black appearance. Navigating through society, dating women and interacting with the police are concretely explored. That Posley is an Iraq War veteran is mentioned only in passing. [more]

The Importance of Being Earnest: Two Ways

March 16, 2019

It’s billed as “Two Ways” because this event is comprised of differing versions performed in repertory. There is the self-explanatory “Conventional Casting” and the “Reversed Casting” where the same superb ensemble plays a different role of the opposite gender in the identical previous performer’s costume.  Each incarnation is a frothy delight faithfully affirming Wilde’s insightful wit and supreme dramatic construction through theatrical magnificence. [more]

Hatef**k

March 13, 2019

There’s stinging dialogue, solid construction and high powers of observation that accurately render the fractious literary milieu with Imran’s offstage agent a major figure. These all enable Ms. Mirza to spin out her enticing scenario over eight scenes in 90 often charged minutes, spanning several months. The characters are impeccably detailed and behave so realistically, causing the possible dynamic for the viewer of siding with one over the other. [more]

Chick Flick the Musical

March 12, 2019

Suzy Conn’s zesty score is a fusion of her peppy music and well-crafted lyrics. “Quandary” is rhymed with “laundry” and among the 14 bright songs there’s a comical ode to Meryl Streep. Ms. Conn’s upbeat book is an orderly framework charting the everyday predicaments of her plucky stock characters. “I think that the Botox went to your brain!” “What’s next? An evening of Chardonnay and shingles?” are representative of the dialogue’s good-natured wit. The scenario manages to just about sustain its 80 minute length. Conn strives for and achieves a feel-good tone for this escapist escapade. [more]

If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka

March 11, 2019

Dynamically presented and sensationally performed, "If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka" is playwright Tori Sampson's maddeningly overblown adaptation of a fable with music. A surfeit of extraneous devices and a heavy-handed agenda overwhelm and drag out a tender and potentially resonant tale. There’s repetitive jokiness, a lumbering ghostly gospel sequence and an anti-climactic pretentious finale. Amidst the frustrating tangents are bright spots during a straight through nearly two hour [more]

Imagining Madoff

March 7, 2019

Employing his rumbling deep voice, his thinning hair slicked back and veering from snarling cheeriness to reflective introspection, Jeremiah Kissel swaggering in a power suit gleefully gives us the ballsy Madoff we desire. Tossing off expertly pronounced Yiddishisms in his rants, Mr. Kissel fully embodies the archetypal striving lusty Jewish kid from Queens who worked the angles and became a macher. Kissel attacks the role with outsize relish as if it were Roy Cohn in "Angels in America." [more]

Recent Alien Abductions

March 5, 2019

Devilishly enigmatic and culminating in an eerie denouement, playwright Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas' stylized warring brothers yarn "Recent Alien Abductions" confidentially veers tonally, seemingly goes off on tangents and holds interest for much of its off-kilter 90 minutes. [more]
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