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Articles by Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (584 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.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

January 21, 2019

Though exhibiting its source material’s young adult sensibility, Ally Sheedy’s highly effective stage adaption is totally absorbing for adults as well. Ms. Sheedy shrewdly captures the sense of an adolescent’s voice and structures the presentation as a collection of pointed vignettes flowing from one to another, skillfully imparting personal and historical details. [more]

Yvonne Constant: “Aznavour As Is”

January 19, 2019

“Emmenez Moi” was the stirring opening number performed by the French Ms. Constant as she majestically strode through Don’t Tell Mama’s cabaret room and onto the small stage. With her expressive enchanting singing, engaging playful presence, upswept flowing blonde hair and clad in a slinky glittering black sequined dress, Ms. Constant was a vision of star quality. [more]

LaBute New Theater Festival 2019

January 16, 2019

An exhilarating trio of short plays by that noted cultural provocateur Neil LaBute make their New York City premieres in this edition of the LaBute New Theatre Festival 2019.  Since 2013, the St. Louis Actors’ Studio with the support of Mr. LaBute who is an acclaimed film director, screenwriter and playwright has held an annual festival of one-act plays. This incarnation is unique as it is comprised solely of works of his which is probably why it is so potent. [more]

Wendell & Pan

January 15, 2019

A spirited cast and a talented director do their best to bring playwright Katelynn Kenney’s heartfelt but leaden "Wendell & Pan" to the stage. It’s an unsatisfying family secrets drama laden with allusions to "Peter Pan." The mystical revelatory sequence near the end and the protracted coda magnify the previously flawed writing. Tinkerbelle is represented by a flickering firefly in a glass jar and when released does cause a lovely effect. [more]

The Fool’s Lear

January 13, 2019

Whether being pushed in a wheelchair or hobbling around on a cane, Mark Peters is an excellent Lear. Mr. Peters forcefully captures all of the character’s pathos, humor and despair with his mature presence and rich vocal delivery. As The Fool, Judy Krause’s clowning and feistiness is delightful. Ms. Krause and Mr. Peters’ marvelous rapport energize the production, hinting at the tantalizing possibilities of an even further stripped down treatment focusing more on these two characters. [more]

Bleach

January 12, 2019

Do you have any objection to being touched?” asks the theater representative of audience members when they check in at the Brooklyn basement where British playwright Dan Ireland-Reeves’ "Bleach" is performed. That question is crucial as one attendee is called upon to silently portray a flashback character who has slight physical contact with the actor, and another gets a brief grinding lap dance. Those who state a negative preference are left alone. [more]

Smoker

January 7, 2019

Mr. Brader’s writing on this fascinating subject is sharp, insightful and well-observed. As a performer, Brader’s breezy personability endows his personal odyssey with an appealing everyman quality as he appears as himself and impersonates various other characters. At 80 minutes, the show is overall compelling. Cold turkey, gradual cessation, hypnosis and bicycle spinning are all attempted to stop with varying results. [more]

Spitting in the Face of the Devil

January 5, 2019

Mr. Brader is an engaging and soulful performer with a smooth and pleasing vocal delivery. Brader is an admirer of Spalding Gray and channels that monumental artist’s impassioned sense of storytelling. As a writer, he offers a vividly candid but somewhat flawed treatment of his explosive autobiographical material. Arguably a tauter and more focused scenario would flow more effectively.  Still, Spitting in the Face of the Devil ultimately achieves redemptive impact. [more]

The Good Adoptee

January 4, 2019

Employing humor, documentary detail and suspense, Bachner offers an emotional detective story. Wit and whimsy meld with poignancy as the picaresque quest begins in present day New York City. It involves a gallery of characters, flashbacks. and often frustrating twists and turns, several of which are legal obstacles that impede such searches. Bureaucrats, a celebrated “adoption hunter,” the adopted parents and other key figures are all imaginatively incorporated into the narrative. Bridgforth is vocally and physically titanic as she switches back and forth between being Susan and playing the other characters with grandly distinctive characterizations. [more]

Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine

December 20, 2018

A hard-edged picaresque fable is what playwright Lynn Nottage came up with in her enjoyable, "Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine" that premiered in 2004. A two-time Pulitzer-Prize winner for Drama, Ms. Nottage is in a lighter mood here but her comic sequences have a bracing tone and the dialogue has her customary skillful depth. We’re in the exaggerated territory of "Watermelon Man" and "Bonfire of the Vanities." [more]

A 2018 Ten Best List

December 19, 2018

Darryl Reilly, Critic There were so many exceptional original plays among the 144 productions that [more]

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues

December 15, 2018

Mr. Goode’s structure is creatively simple, the eight reindeers offer their foul-mouthed sometimes conflicting testimony one by one. Rudolph is unable to appear as he is confined to a padded cell in a catatonic state. Goode’s writing is unabashedly crude, staunchly politically incorrect and often very funny. The play premiered in Chicago in 1994 and this production has assembled a terrific group of actors who each bring their distinctive comic skills to these goofy roles. [more]

Ruben & Clay’s Christmas Show

December 12, 2018

Except for “Santa Baby” and “The Little Drummer Boy,” virtually every Christmas song in existence is wonderfully performed during the pleasant holiday extravaganza, Ruben & Clay's Christmas Show (aka Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show).  Even the now controversial "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is heard though revised lyrics. [more]

Noura

December 11, 2018

In 90 minutes, Ms. Raffo packs in a great deal. We learn about Iraq’s past and present, religious lore, marital conflicts, unrequited love and the hardships of immigrants. The stiff treatment is schematic rather than polished and the resorting to soliloquies feels off. Without a defined plot, it plays out as a limp multi-character study that’s resolved with a talky and unconvincing denouement. Raffo does create appealing characters including  the substantive title role which she herself plays. [more]

Selkie

December 7, 2018

“Why did I marry such an idiot?!” exclaims Deanna about her goofy husband Keaton. Not only is he an inept drug dealer but he has also kidnapped a seal who is presently in human form and her vengeful relatives are now on the warpath. These are the outlandish plot points of playwright Krista Knight's charming "Selkie" where mirth merges with darkness. [more]

The Tricky Part

December 4, 2018

Overbearing nuns, eccentric priests and confusing religious tenets are detailed with stand-up comedy gusto by performer Martin Moran in recounting his Colorado Catholic upbringing during his absorbing self-written confessional solo play,"The Tricky Part." Following that familiar list of targets and lively audience interaction, the main thread of the show is disclosed. [more]

Step into the Sun

December 2, 2018

Pink’s “Perfect” was the exhilarating finale of singer Christopher Caswell’s vivacious cabaret act, "Step into the Sun." Fourteen eclectic, mostly unconventional numbers were performed in 75 easygoing minutes with depth, humor and virtuosity. Interspersed with the musical portions was his expertly crafted biographical patter delivered with skillful comic timing and emotional resonance.  It all added up to an entertaining theatrical self-portrait. [more]

Chasing the New White Whale

November 28, 2018

Visually impressive due to the inventive work of scenic designer Donald Eastman and director Arthur Adair’s fine staging, "Chasing the New White Whale" is playwright Mike Gorman’s muddled attempt at an epic drama of drug addiction in the contemporary United States. Herman Melville’s classic 1851 novel "Moby-Dick" is metaphorically employed and heavy-handed references and motifs abound. [more]

Hype Man: a break beat play

November 21, 2018

“Hip hop gave me my name” says Peep One, a captivating young mixed race woman who is a beat maker; the one who crafts the tune for a hip hop song. This is one of numerous pertinent details imparted in playwright Idris Goodwin’s exhilarating drama "Hype Man: a break beat play." Mr. Goodwin’s vision is theatrical, his dialogue is sharp, and he crafts a clenching scenario.  The title refers to the backup rapper who supports the star rapper by chiming in with his own declarations and stirring up the audience. [more]

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me

November 20, 2018

As Michael, the soulful and animated Michael Broadhurst enthralls as he rhapsodizes about his deceased wife, philosophically opines and stalwartly copes. Jonathan Judge-Russo has shattering moments as Edward as he volcanically comes undone while otherwise exhibiting quiet force throughout. With his boyish twang and haunted eyes, Leif Steinert’s Adam is thoroughly charming. Separately and together, each of them achieves the right balance of comedy and pathos that the piece requires. [more]

The Other Josh Cohen

November 18, 2018

Cute, whimsical and lightly enjoyable, the musical "The Other Josh Cohen" is hampered by its lack of a compelling plot. “This is the story of a strange piece of mail that changed my life.” After his apartment is robbed, a young New York City schlemiel receives a check from a distant relative for $56,000. This inspires a picaresque set of adventures with Neil Diamond popping up and romance along the way. [more]

American Son

November 15, 2018

“That’s it?” is likely to be one’s reaction at the conclusion of playwright Christopher Demos-Brown’s tidy topical 90-minute racial drama "American Son." Theater enthusiasts often rhapsodize about Broadway’s Golden Age, the 1920’s to the 1960’s, when straight plays filled theaters. Mr. Demos-Brown’s effort does harken back to that era by crafting a well-constructed minor vehicle for actors of the sort that could have played a season, then toured, was made into movie and was forgotten. Kerry Washington and the fine cast make the most of their choice roles under Kenny Leon’s solid direction. [more]

The Female Role Model Project

November 15, 2018

Kim Kardashian West, Melania Trump and Chinese popstar Bingbing Fan appear as wacky contestants on a philosophical gameshow hosted by Oprah Winfrey in the lighthearted, thoughtful and souped-up multimedia performance piece "The Female Role Model Project." It’s a breezy 90-minute exploration of existence from a woman’s perspective with audience participation. [more]

Beautiful Day Without You

November 10, 2018

Did Blaze, a Doberman Pinscher, cause the death of Pippi, a German Shepherd-Chihuahua mix? That is the crux of Italian playwright Marco Calvani’s three-character, way-out, occasionally hilarious and absorbing drama "Beautiful Day Without You." This realistic premise’s off-beat treatment is reminiscent of Yasmina Reza’s provocative comic manner and the dialogue has the profane snappiness of David Mamet. It’s a dense 90-minutes that are often confounding but ultimately rewarding. The minimalist presentation serves the material well. [more]

Waiting for Godot (Druid Theatre)

November 7, 2018

Ms. Hynes has the cast at full speed emphasizing slapstick and employing stylized poses and gestures.  There’s exaggerated choreography-like movement such as extending legs and dipping down, grabbing at each other and jumping. Movement director Nick Winston’s efforts are accomplished if overdone. The plethora of gags and set up punchline recitation gets laughs at the expense of emotional resonance. A few bits are quietly played due to the nature of those specific passages and are quite lovely. Overall, there is a lack of visceral depth to this arguably superficial treatment. The ending brings benign silence rather than communal sighs. [more]

I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce

November 5, 2018

Purring sensually with a slight nasal New York accent, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and a black tie and handling a microphone while in front of its stand, actor Ronnie Marmo vocally and physically conjures up the presence of that monumental performer in his imaginative self-written solo show, "I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce." The rascally Mr. Marmo’s haunted facial features, wild eyes and styled dark hair all evoke an accurate resemblance. [more]

Sycorax, Cyber Queen of Qamara

November 5, 2018

Delightfully growling in a quasi-Middle Eastern accent, her head encased in a babushka, plastered with makeup, wearing a flowing robe and hobbling on a cane, Sandra Bargman is terrific as the title character and anchor of "Sycorax, Cyber Queen of Qamara." It’s playwright Fengar Gael’s cheeky fantasia that tells of this unseen witch from William Shakespeare’s "The Tempest." [more]

Inner Voices 2018

November 4, 2018

Three original one-act solo-performer musicals comprise "Inner Voices 2018," presented by the Premieres theater company. Since 2008 they’ve produced several editions of this enterprise. The format was inspired by British playwright Alan Bennett’s 1980’s and 1990’s acclaimed "Talking Heads," which were a series of 13 separate monologues that were originally broadcast on television and subsequently adapted for the stage. Here, the monologues are set to music and it’s cumulatively pleasing. [more]

Good Grief

October 31, 2018

"Good Grief" opens with a celestial sequence and continues with Nkechi’s narration. Sometimes incidents are replayed in order to get them closer to the truth since all are memories and not always totally accurate.  There’s an early fantasy boxing match that seems out of place. The slight plot involves the death of one of the characters and the profound effect it has on Nkechi. [more]

When We Went Electronic

October 30, 2018

Ms. Stephens has a substantial pedigree with her previous works having appeared at prestigious institutions and winning awards. The piffle on display here does exhibit craft, discipline and structure but to little effect as it sputters out after 70-minutes. The title is an Anthony Burgess’ "A Clockwork Orange" attempt at an invented slang. It refers to getting high and is tiresomely repeated countless times. “Look book” is another catchphrase that gets run into the ground. The dialogue is nonsensical, vulgar, often coarse and is supposed to be funny. [more]

Sesar

October 26, 2018

Christopher Plummer’s guest appearance on a 1987 episode of "The Cosby Show" giving a Shakespearean mini-recital in the Huxtable living room had a profound effect on writer and performer Orlando Pabotoy. That clip is a highlight of Mr. Pabotoy’s marvelous solo show, "Sesar" that recounts his relationship with his heroic father. Opening with a furious recreation of a storm and closing with an enchanting visual surprise, it’s 65 theatrical and emotionally resonant minutes taking place in the family bathroom [more]
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