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Articles by Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (727 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.

A 2020 Four Best List

June 12, 2020

With New York City theater in limbo for the foreseeable future, now seems the time to acknowledge the outstanding presentations of this COVID-19 era. [more]

My Circle in the Square

May 6, 2020

“Romeo and Juliet” at this unique theater was the first Broadway show I saw. Rex Harrison, George C. Scott and Brian Bedford were also memorable there. [more]

Jules Feiffer’s Grown Ups

April 24, 2020

This 1980’s obscure and brief-running dark work is my favorite play. I later met the author’s wife, which inspired Rupert Pupkin-style delusions. [more]

Pandemic Diversions

April 13, 2020

Darryl Reilly, Critic Like many, I have sought solace through entertainment during these first [more]

The Last Theater Show

April 11, 2020

Here are accounts of productions I attended just before live performances traumatically ceased in NYC due to COVID-19; one review was not published before. [more]

Vincent Price Was Oscar Wilde

March 19, 2020

There are happy and distracting memories to ponder while the arts and life are in limbo due to COVID-19. Lauren Bacall also appears in this recollection. [more]

The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment

March 12, 2020

With its eloquent nods to conceptual art, good-natured comedic tone and superior performance, "The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment" is an intelligent entertainment. [more]

Unknown Soldier

March 11, 2020

The declarative lyrics are written by Mr. Goldstein and the show’s composer Michael Friedman. Mr. Friedman was a notable musical theater figure who died of HIV-related causes in 2017, at the age of 41. With its derivative melodies echoing Stephen Sondheim, John Kander and William Finn, "Unknown Soldier" is not a posthumous masterpiece. [more]

The Hot Wing King

March 6, 2020

“Spicy. Cajun. Alfredo. With Bourbon Infused. Crumbled. Bacon” is the hoped-for path to victory for the pivotal Memphis cooking competition in award-winning playwright Katori Hall’s uplifting "The Hot Wing King," where comedy and drama deftly converge. Strained relationships, personal despair and camaraderie among gay and straight black men are all dramatized in this rewarding contemporary work that has echoes of the wit and pathos of Mart Crowley’s "The Boys in the Band." [more]

Dana H.

February 26, 2020

Wearing costume designer Janice Pytel’s arresting black and red ensemble, Ms. O’Connell mostly sits in a chair on scenic designer Andrew Boyce’s authentically detailed drab and ominous motel room set. With her haunting eyes, flowing hair and magnetic countenance, O’Connell vividly channels Higginbotham’s presence. Her lip-synching, gestures and facial expressions are all flawless. The presentation’s conceit is realized by O’Connell’s supreme artistry. [more]

Rules of Desire

February 25, 2020

"Extremities" on a ship best sums up its playwright William Mastrosimone’s adept, if off-kilter, new psychological thriller "Rules of Desire," that’s been given a tidy production. In it, a dim 22-year-old U.S. Navy enlistee smuggles his troubled 18-year-old girlfriend in a duffel bag onto the aircraft carrier on which he is stationed. The couple surreptitiously sets up house in an airlock, but their connubial bliss is threatened by the licentious Chief Petty Officer discovering their love nest. Psychosexual hijinks ensue. [more]

Anatomy of a Suicide

February 23, 2020

"Anatomy of a Suicide"’s title is more than accurate as two suicides are depicted. Dramatizing such subject matter would usually be intrinsically harrowing. However, acclaimed British playwright Alice Birch is concerned with hollow technique rather than rendering fleshed out characters straightforwardly grappling with life’s travails. Instead, we get three women’s cryptic underdeveloped stories mashed together, enacted simultaneously, structured as short scenes in this 90 minutes play. It’s an unsatisfying minor exercise with flashes of emotional resonance. [more]

Happy Birthday Doug

February 16, 2020

Mr. Droege’s sharp and well-observed writing renders each of these familiar figures with biting depth, achieving grand mini-portraiture. Though preoccupied with comedy, an undercurrent of proportioned sentiment elevates the work above mere caricature. Promiscuity, aging, drugs, alcohol, loneliness and the past are among the issues eloquently explored in relation to the gay male lifestyle. Droege’s shrewd structure has each of the participants alternatively popping up to chatter while imparting pertinent personal details, fueling the semblance of a narrative. [more]

Where We Stand

February 14, 2020

Amidst the hubbub that includes coerced audience clapping and singalongs, we attempt to discern what the point is. It appears to be the story of an outsider who takes up residence in a rural locality and is accused of a crime;  the audience votes whether to convict or acquit him. Several audience members have been given pages of lofty speeches to recite. “The words your fellow Townspeople quoted come from Dr. Cornell West and Coretta Scott King,” states the program. Where We Stand’s 70 minutes are mildly engaging if often baffling and do make some impact. [more]

Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)

February 11, 2020

ICE raids, harrowing border crossing journeys and transferring money home are depicted in the rousing and moving play "Fandango For Butterflies (and Coyotes)." It’s derived from undocumented Latin American immigrants’ stories of why they left their countries and of their lives in the United States. Reminiscences and dramatic complications are interwoven with terrific dance sequences and lovely songs. [more]

Brecht: Call and Respond (an evening of three one-acts)

February 4, 2020

“Producing theatrical works that feature compelling stories created by emerging theater artists” is from the New Light Theater Project’s self-description. Their vastly and thoughtfully entertaining presentation, "Brecht: Call and Respond (an evening of three one-acts)" achieves that aim. Bertolt Brecht may not be an emerging theater artist, but the other two playwrights certainly are. [more]

PackRat

February 3, 2020

Writer and director Renee Philippi’s appealing scenario is simple, heartfelt and dramatic. It’s realized by Ms. Philippi’s supreme command of stagecraft that revels in theatricality. Designer Carlo Adinolfi’s awesome cutouts, handheld and shadow puppet creations individualize the animals with striking expressive details. Mr. Adinolfi’s stylized set pieces thoroughly convey the look of a rustic environment and his arresting projections visualize varying locales and the animals’ dreams. The production is enhanced by the perfection of Eric Nightengale’s atmospheric lighting and sound design. Composer Lewis Flinn’s energizing original music veers from jaunty to appropriately moody as it complements the piece’s actions and emotions. [more]

Emojiland: The Musical

January 29, 2020

Smiling Faces, Skull, Princess, Pile of Poo and other notable emojis cavorting around might have made for a peppy contained sophisticated children’s show. The creators of "Emojiland: The Musical" however, have opted for a full-length treatment that sputters out by intermission as not much has happened and then we come back for more anemic hijinks. The meager plot involves a software update, a firewall, a virus, betrayals and some romantic complications all taking place in a smartphone fantasyland. [more]

The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker

January 27, 2020

The show was conceived, directed and designed by Theodora Skipitares. Her treatment of these biographical details is that of a fanciful saga with the awestruck tone of a children’s book. There’s a neat bit involving Lt. Uhura from the original Star Trek in her red uniform on a miniature Enterprise starship, recounting meeting Dr. Martin Luther King. Skipitares’ thrilling staging is in concert with the witty elements of presentation.  Many whimsical scenery pieces are suspended from the ceiling and are lowered and raised. [more]

The Woman in Black

January 24, 2020

Fog wafting, an empty rocking chair moving by itself, blackouts, ghostly apparitions and crashing music are all part of the spooky fun in "The Woman In Black." Scary moments, intriguing hokum and laughter abound as this inventively presented British theatrical thriller plays out. [more]

Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie

January 20, 2020

With her richly expressive character voice, alternating between appealing deepness and wonderfully hitting high notes, she beautifully does justice to each song. We see every hallowed surrealistic image contained in “Life On Mars” due to her precise phrasing and crisp enunciation. Written in 1995, with its incendiary title, harsh lyrics and considering the state of the nation today, “I’m Afraid of Americans” becomes a prophetic terrifying showstopper as performed by the dynamic Cion. [more]

Miss America’s Ugly Daughter:  Bess Myerson & Me

January 18, 2020

More in the spirit of Carrie Fisher than Christina Crawford, performer Barra Grant chronicles her life and that of her famous mother in her engaging and smartly presented self-written solo show, "Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me." Nostalgic New Yorkers will have their memories refreshed while others might be delightfully informed. It’s a harrowing, insightful and often very funny 90 minutes. [more]

Or, An Astronaut Play

January 8, 2020

A lively cast comprised of Harrison Unger, Caturah Brown, Tay Bass and Jonathan Cruz not only deliver exceptional performances during the inconsequential "Or, An Astronaut Play," they also demonstrate physical prowess. Continually hauling props and minimal furnishings about during its numerous brief scenes, this ensemble heroically aid in realizing the transitions. Alas, their commendable efforts are stymied by an unsatisfying play. The biggest laugh is gotten by the sight of a 1950’s B-movie-type space explorer helmet made out of cardboard. [more]

A 2019 Ten Best List

December 19, 2019

These superior revivals, bold new plays and a terrific solo show were the most fascinating and memorable productions I experienced this year. [more]

Pockets

December 18, 2019

Frothiness abounds in "Pockets," an amusing spoof of British musicals that’s presented by the Los Angeles-based comedy troupe Robot Teammate.  The rollicking score is a collaboration between the group’s members and lead composer and music director Branson NeJame. The saucy book is a communal effort as well, created with head writer Dave Reynolds. It’s all 70-minutes of good-natured silliness structured as sketch comedy-style scenes and accomplished musical numbers. There are plentiful puns, sight gags and zaniness. [more]

Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven

December 17, 2019

Besides Mr. Skittles, there are 18 other characters of different races, ages, genders and sexualities. They’re a cross section of the downtrodden and those involved with aiding them. Ex-convicts, the homeless, an Iraq war veteran, drug addicts, battered women and their children, social workers, staff members, law officers, a trans woman who incites divisiveness, and a wily Catholic priest who once threw a man off the roof of a building are all vividly realized by Mr. Guirgis’ supreme command of dramatic writing. Each one of these many figures are majestically fleshed out, some in great detail. Guirgis goes beyond offering a loving mosaic of character studies by gradually injecting a suspenseful narrative that reaches a bleak yet hopeful conclusion. [more]

Where Are We Now

December 13, 2019

Possessed of an awesome soaring tenor voice, the magnetic Dutch-German Mr. Ratzke offers not a conventional cover band-style tribute show with slavish imitation, but instead a thrilling performance piece. His vivid singing is characterized by his slight accent, occasional hints of Bowie’s timbre and shades of Anthony Newley, an early Bowie influence. Ratzke is accompanied by only the impish silent foil and beaming German virtuoso Christian Pabst on grand piano who enchants with his sustained high caliber musicianship and jazzy solos. [more]

The Thin Place

December 13, 2019

After pillaging Ibsen in "A Doll's House, Part 2" and lampooning the former First Couple for "Hillary and Clinton," vaunted playwright Lucas Hnath’s latest piffle, "The Thin Place" is a Wallace Shawn-style talkathon aptly dedicated to the late magician Ricky Jay as it’s an exercise in flimflam.  There is more craft and profundity in the first season "I Love Lucy" episode “The Séance” with its immortal lines, “Ethel to Tillie. Ethel to Tillie. Come in Tillie.” [more]

ray gun say0nara

December 11, 2019

Fabulous technical elements and spirited performances from a large ensemble of actors, singers and dancers cannot overcome the authorial negligence of the musical science fiction pastiche, "ray gun say0nara." It runs over two hours plus an intermission and has some engaging sequences but makes little cumulative impact. [more]

Harry Townsend’s Last Stand

December 6, 2019

Cariou is now appearing Off-Broadway as the titular character in playwright George Eastman’s slight though moving two-character work, Harry Townsend's Last Stand. Sharp one-liners, funny set ups and punchlines and wistful observations abound throughout Mr. Eastman’s effective familiar scenario. It is playwrighting at its basic best, delivering two hefty empathetic roles for actors to attack while delighting the audience. [more]

MsTrial

December 5, 2019

Prominent Georgia attorney Dep Kirkland “decided to listen to his own voice, and walked away from the legal field altogether to pursue his previously private dream of acting, writing, and directing...” This statement comes from Mr. Kirkland’s biography in the program for the play he wrote, "MsTRIAL." Its promising He Said, She Said premise is undermined by a disjointed structure and presentational flaws. Mr. Kirkland has come up with a viable plot, appealing familiar characters and expert dialogue, but his command of dramatic writing is shaky. It’s not the explosive legal drama it aspires to be, coming across more as a screenplay being workshopped instead of a realized stage play. [more]
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