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Articles by Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (802 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.

Corsicana

June 23, 2022

"Corsicana" is a heartfelt and absorbing family drama that’s been given a pretentiously distracting production: just for starters, its cryptic houselights up preamble is at odds with the play’s naturalism. Playwright Will Arbery is a Pulitzer Prize-finalist for his heralded oddball right-wing political exploration, "Heroes of the Fourth Turning." Here, he offers a mostly conventional present-day clash of siblings’ tale which he has stated is autobiographical. [more]

Circle Jerk

June 22, 2022

In 'Circle Jerk," this cocky duo confidently preen, bray and cavort while donning various wigs and flamboyant costumes as multiple fey stock characters for over two numbing hours of their self-congratulatory twaddle. Their grating characterizations are achieved by intently staring into the camera, making faces, raising eyebrows and doing voices. It’s not "Your Show of Shows," but a niche audience of friends, relatives and trustafarians who could be amused by their antics. Cat Rodríguez appears in several female roles with campy flair. [more]

Brooks Atkinson: Attention Must Be Paid

June 18, 2022

''Atkinson was the conscience of the theater. He rediscovered Off-Broadway in the 50's when other critics did not want to bother going off the beaten path. His standards were tough, but his criticism was tempered by compassion” stated the late Eugene O’Neill biographer and New York Times colleague Arthur Gelb. [more]

Five By Tenn: An Evening of Short Plays by Tennessee Williams

June 11, 2022

Tennessee Williams’ full-length play’s titles, characters and dialogue have been part of the consciousness since "The Glass Menagerie"’s 1944 premiere. During his peak years of the 1940’s and 1950’s, he also wrote many one-acts, exploring his familiar concerns, chiefly the naïve preyed upon by the worldly. "Five By Tenn" is an enchanting program drawn from these, which are uniformly satisfying. This modest Off-Off-Broadway production is presented by the Out of the Box Theatre Company, whose members are artists mostly over the age of 50. The show serves as an introduction to rarely performed obscure Williams works, all of which take place in drab bedrooms, and as a showcase for the talented mature cast. [more]

Gratitude

June 10, 2022

The animated Aline Salloum fearlessly embraces all of Najaf’s unsettling complexities, delivering a riveting performance. In the early sexually frank verbal exchanges, Ms. Salloum marvelously recalls Elaine May’s matter of fact comedic brilliance. With his captivating boy next door presence, Erik Larsson as Drew offers a smashing characterization combining naiveté and Machiavellianism. As Josh and Ben, the equally commanding and personable Jalen Ford and Jake Bryan Guthrie wonderfully evoke boyish randiness and adolescent confusion. Though clearly not teens, this youthful quartet are totally and effortlessly believable in their roles. [more]

B-Boy Blues The Play

June 7, 2022

Can a 27-year-old Black gay professional journalist and a 21-year-old Blatino bicycle messenger with an out of wedlock son find love and happiness together in Brooklyn? That is the crux of author James Earl Hardy’s compelling class-conscious drama "B-Boy Blues The Play," where all of its characters are confident of their varied sexuality. Mr. Hardy, an accomplished entertainment reporter, published his novel, "B-Boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-on-Black Love Story," in 1994. It led to five sequels, a short story and an upcoming film version. Hardy’s stage adaptation premiered at New York City’s 2013 Downtown Urban Arts Festival (DUAF), which is also presenting this production. [more]

…what the end will be

June 2, 2022

In four scenes spanning a few months, Ra renders his gay family trio’s life events, medical situations, numerous clashes and resolutions with pungent topicality. The pandemic is referenced, gender and pronouns are discussed, and cultural bromides are stated: “Black people can’t be racist. I read that on the Facebook.” Ra’s characters are given rich portrayals by the splendid cast. With his melodious voice, priceless facial expressions and stage presence, veteran actor Keith Randolph Smith grounds the production with his towering performance as Bartholomew. As Maxwell, the fiery Emerson Brooks supremely conveys the character’s bottled-up emotions, offering a moving psychological portrait. The personable Gerald Caesar’s Tony is a vivid take on adolescent struggle. Randy Harrison as Charles offers a winning take on the supportive spouse with his straightforward vocal delivery and calm manner. Lithe, animated and spunky Ryan Jamaal Swain hilariously and poignantly tranmits all of Antoine’s facets. The radiant Tiffany Villarin combines levity and warmth as the noble Chloe. [more]

The Legend of the Waitress & The Robber

May 27, 2022

Written by Renee Philippi, this witty mockery of authoritarianism is derived from Friedrich Schiller’s play "The Robbers" and the Korean novel "The Story of Hong Gildong." Composer and lyricist Lewis Flinn’s smart original score joyously recall’s Kurt Weil’s galvanizing melodies and Bertolt Brecht’s biting lyrics. It’s rousingly rendered by musical directors Jacob Kerzner and Hee Eun Kim. [more]

The Oracle

May 20, 2022

This premiere five-performance Off-Off-Broadway showcase run of "The Oracle" is best viewed as a tryout, and the production’s presentational flaws are cited with that belief. Co-author Elliott also directed; while he’s assembled, well-positioned and guided the industrious cast to lively performances, his physical staging is variable. The play is structured as 34 brief scenes over two acts. Instead of rapid transitions, there’s a pause between each scene while recorded music plays as the actors get in place. This intrusive strategy slackens the pacing and adds to the running time. [more]

André & Dorine

May 16, 2022

This charming show comes from the acclaimed Spanish troupe, Kulunka Teatro. The ensemble of Jose Dault, Garbiñe Insausti and Edu Cárcamo all offer awesome physically commanding silent portrayals of a variety of types while encased in Ms. Insausti’s stupendously created caricaturist masks. Their handling of props is majestic. During the exhilarating curtain call, the cast appears without masks, and their magnetism is even more visible. André & Dorine’s engaging wry scenario was devised by Insausti, Mr. Dault, Iñaki Rikarte, Mr. Cárcamo and Rolando San Martín. [more]

A Case for the Existence of God

May 10, 2022

Though there’s two well-delineated characters and a compelling plot, "A Case for the Existence of God" plays out like a 90-minute cerebral exercise, reaching an unsatisfying pseudo-fantastical conclusion. This is explained by Hunter’s stage directions which explicitly have the actors sitting for a good deal of the time. He has several dictates as to how his dialogue should be delivered, one example is “Dialogue written in italics is emphatic, deliberate; dialogue in ALL CAPS is impulsive, explosive. Dialogue in [brackets] is implied, not spoken.” [more]

Mr. Saturday Night

May 6, 2022

Anyone else may find this decent show to be a tired affair which just about sustains its two-and-half-hour running time. The memory-piece book by Crystal, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel is based on their screenplay which ranges from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. It intends to be a loving tribute to a bygone show business era and fitfully succeeds at that. The schmaltz-laden dramatic writing never really rises above the rudimentary, rendering the events and conflicts with patness and clichés. Still, it offers choice roles that are marvelously performed by the other cast members. [more]

Funny Girl

April 29, 2022

Beanie Feldstein’s clunky rendition of “I'm the Greatest Star” crystalizes the absurdist dimension of this off-kilter first Broadway revival of the 1964 musical, "Funny Girl." With her nasal, often muffled singing, oddly emphatic line readings and smug mugging, in no way does she suggest a great star, yet this nearly three-hour show is centered around her. It instantly deflates with her wan introductory “Hello, gorgeous.” She does exhibit idiosyncratic pluck and stamina throughout. [more]

How I Learned to Drive

April 22, 2022

A lure of this Broadway premiere revival is 25 years later experiencing the acclaimed performances of much of its original cast. Being a memory play, their current ages are irrelevant, especially when their talents are impeccable. With her renowned charismatic stage presence, Mary-Louise Parker is monumental as Lil’ Bit. Ms. Parker’s drawling vocal delivery and magnetism fully and poignantly realizes the character from the perspective of an older woman looking back on her dysfunctional adolescence. The soft-spoken and shattering David Morse soulfully embodies Uncle Peck, a delusional W.W. II veteran who has descended into alcoholism and pedophilia. [more]

To My Girls

April 15, 2022

Lee peppers his worn scenario with plenty of pop, cultural and political references, well-crafted zingers and familiar conflicts. Dating apps, "Dancer from the Dance," "Sex and the City" are among the totems cited and a Trump supporter is declared to be a “MAGA fag.” "To My Girls" succeeds as a rote genre-piece for a niche audience desiring a simplistic gay play where there’s laughter, tears and resolution in drag danced to The Pointer Sisters. Lee’s thinly drawn characters are highly playable. [more]

Queens Girl in the World

April 11, 2022

Whether frenetically dancing, rhapsodizing over Nancy Drew, fretting about when she’ll wear a bra or reacting horrified upon learning about sex, Ms. Curry performs with the verve of Lily Tomlin in her prime. Curry’s rich portrayal of Jaqueline Marie Butler captures the wonderment of childhood amidst harsh realities and the physical and emotional upheavals of adolescence. A matter-of-fact confession that Jaqueline has been molested is a chilling highlight. With her wide-eyes, expressive facial features, limber physicality and vocal prowess, Curry often rapidly achieves distinctive characterizations of the dozen other figures in the play. The wizardry of Mika Eubanks’ costume, hair and makeup design all visually enhance Curry’s performance. [more]

Take Shape

April 5, 2022

An astronaut in a space station, a YouTube cooking show, evicted apartment residents and a romance on the rocks are a few of the dramatic and antic incidents depicted in "Take Shape," an entertaining full-length program of mime. It’s presented by the Broken Box Mime Theater (BKBX), which was founded in 2011, and whose mission is “to activate the imagination of our audiences, to contemporize the art of mime, and to remind us all of the simple power of storytelling.” "Take Shape" is a collaboration by the company’s members, many of whom appear in rotation at various performances. This creative troupe is comprised of Nick Abeel, Becky Baumwoll, Ismael Castillo, Julia Cavagna, Géraldine Dulex, Blake Habermann, David Jenkins, Marissa Molnar, Kristin McCarthy Parker, Tasha Milkman, Regan Sims, Jae Woo and Josh Wynter. [more]

Plaza Suite

April 2, 2022

Audience laughter abounds during Matthew Broderick and Sara Jessica Parker’s uproarious performances in this splendid first Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s 1968 hit comedy, "Plaza Suite." This married show business couple revel in their different roles during three one-acts all taking place in the same hotel room. They’re greeted with wild entrance applause each time they come on stage and though standing ovations at the end of shows have become obligatory, here it’s sincere and justified. Mr. Broderick and Ms. Parker’s enduring star quality is on display at the Hudson Theatre. [more]

The Chinese Lady

March 29, 2022

Presentational flourishes abound in director Ralph B. Peña’s gorgeous physical staging which combines small-scale spectacle with humanity. Scenic designer Junghyun Georgia Lee provides a large gold frame through which we observe Afong’s act and an assortment of stylized pieces which evokes the past through clever artifice. That’s complemented by the shimmering artistry of lighting designers Jiyoun Chang and Elizabeth Mak and projection designer Shawn Duan. Sound designer and composer Fabian Obispo’s  original music and composition, ranges from delightfully jaunty to purposefully moody. [more]

Garbageman

March 20, 2022

Unfortunately, Huff the author of the psychological puzzler "A Steady Rain" in which Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman starred in on Broadway in 2009, and who has written  episodes of the television shows "Mad Men," "House of Cards," "American Crime," here exhibits a lack of dramatic construction. After a slack 35 minutes of wayward exposition there is finally some semblance of an actual plot. The lumpy first act lasts an hour and 20 minutes; the tauter second act runs 45 minutes. Together "Garbageman"’s two acts are a semi-satisfying experience. This is its world premiere so perhaps future incarnations will be more refined. Thankfully, its cast has stamina and delivers terrific performances. [more]

Little Girl Blue

March 15, 2022

Nina Simone’s vocal talents, physical presence and spirit are all dazzlingly channeled by Laiona Michelle in her engaging self-written biographical concert-style musical, "Little Girl Blue." Ms. Michelle employs just enough of Simone’s cadences, facial expressions and physical gestures to create an authentic characterization while supremely singing over a dozen songs associated with the charismatic vocalist. The show’s well-researched spoken word portions deliver historical facts, life details and cultural commentary in the manner of Simone. [more]

Jane Anger

March 8, 2022

Puns, witty repartee, double entendres, verbal wordplay out of Abbott and Costello, sight gags and slapstick all abound in playwright Talene Monahon's zany, edgy and accomplished historical comedy, "JANE ANGER or The Lamentable Comedie of JANE ANGER, that Cunning Woman, and also of Willy Shakefpeare and his Peasant Companion, Francis, Yes and Also of Anne Hathaway (also a Woman) Who Tried Very Hard." During a breezy 90 minutes, four offbeat characters cavort in a room; laughter is plentiful. [more]

Out of Time

March 5, 2022

Conceived and directed by Les Waters, his staging of Out of Time is of purposeful simplicity. The actors are seated, standing or in motion fulfilling the intentions of each author. The stage is set with scenic designer dots’ atmospheric assemblage of gauzy curtains and minimal furnishings which abstractly suggest different locales and tones. Reza Behjat’s clinical lighting design and Fabian Obispo’s modulated sound design successfully accentuate and realize each of the diverse works. Black, white and red are the colors of Mariko Ohigashi’s smart costume design. "Out of Time" is a fine opportunity to experience some stimulating new dramatic writing and uniformly superior acting. [more]

The Unamerican

March 2, 2022

So rages legendary Right Wing Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in playwright Claude Solnik’s well-observed historical fantasia about the 1950’s anti-Communist Blacklist, "The Unamerican." Besides a comically accurate Hopper, Mr. Solnick offers rich portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan. The romance of Miller and Monroe and the clash between those male friends and colleagues over their disagreements of how to deal with testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) are perceptively rendered by Solnick’s erudite research and keen writing. A highlight is the background of "The Crucible," with Monroe reciting a speech from it. When "The Unamerican" focuses on the interplay between its four main characters it soars. [more]

sandblasted

February 27, 2022

A woman’s arm falls off soon into playwright Charly Evon Simpson’s engrossing allegory, "sandblasted." Ms. Simpson’s tone beautifully mixes the comic with the wistful, her dialogue is glorious, and her characters are appealing. Structured as 18 punchy short time-shifting scenes, with duologues, trialogues and monologues, the play builds to a stirring conclusion. Simpson quotes Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett in stage notes, their aesthetic influence is evident. The setting is a sandy landscape, the time is “now. after. future.” [more]

The Same

February 20, 2022

Lisa and The Other Lisa are the two characters in acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s haunting short play, "The Same." The conceit that The Other Lisa is Lisa 10 years ago is soon discerned. That’s achieved through Mr. Walsh’s alluring dialogue and stirring reveries which combine the poetic, the mundane and the cryptic. By the end of 47 entrancing minutes, one has experienced Lisa’s life in Ireland with its high points and disappointments. [more]

Tambo & Bones

February 8, 2022

The dynamic W. Tré Davis and Tyler Fauntleroy deliver rousing performances as Tambo and Bones. Each is possessed of a limber physicality, superior comic timing and dramatic depth. Their immense chemistry is such that they appear to be long-time show business partners instead of just actors in a play. With their imposing physiques, close-cropped hair and vocal talents, Brendan Dalton and Dean Linnard are hilarious as the robots. Taylor Reynolds' fizzy staging realizes Harris’ vision with theatrical flair, each scene is perfectly presented. Lighting designers Amith Chandrashaker and Mextly Couzin and sound designer Mikhail Fiksel respond to three diverse settings with resourceful artistry. Composer Justin Ellington’s delightful original music ranges from jaunty melodies to rap tunes. [more]

Skeleton Crew

January 29, 2022

Set in the breakroom of a stamping plant in 2008, Ms. Morisseau achieves a high level of dramatic writing with this well observed exploration of Black working-class life. Each of the short scenes is perfectly crafted, imparting exposition, plot points and narrative momentum. Morisseau also has created four vivid, appealing and humane characters who speak her authentically rich dialogue and who are majestically performed. [more]

The Hang

January 25, 2022

After a grand Pippin-style introductory opening, one exhilarating number follows another in acclaimed theater maker Taylor Mac’s "The Hang." Derived from jazz and opera, this vibrant musical fantasia is inspired by the Greek philosopher Socrates’ last hours in 399 BC Athens. He’d been sentenced to death by drinking the poison hemlock for “corrupting the youth” and “impiety.” The show is based on his student Plato’s account of these events. As there’s a homoerotic strain to the Greek philosophical milieu, "The Hang" has a raucous queer vibe. [more]

This Beautiful Future

January 17, 2022

First presented in London in 2017, this shimmering U.S. premiere affirms its acclaim. The Australian-born Ms. Kalnejais’ writing is highly crafted, imaginative and affective. Kalnejais was inspired by a 2016 museum exhibition containing W.W. II-era film footage to create this entrancing historical tale during a sense of worldwide political chaos. “I wanted to write something hopeful and delicious and gorgeous and put something gorgeous out into the world,” she has said in an interview. [more]

Sugar Ray

January 10, 2022

For 80 minutes, Mr. Wilson commands the stage with his expressive voice and charismatic physical presence. Wilson portrays Robinson from robust youth to early middle-age beset by early Alzheimer’s with verve, recounting the fighter’s life from birth in Georgia, to a poverty-stricken Harlem childhood, to his rise and fall in the ring. Direct address is a conceit of the play, and so Wilson is in constant motion, periodically engaging with audience members and at times playfully throwing punches at some. In addition to fiercely channeling Robinson, Wilson offers marvelous mini portraits of his resourceful divorced mother, Walter Winchell and Muhammad Ali. It’s a towering turn. [more]

A 2021 Five Best List

December 26, 2021

In the past, my annual wrap up excluded Broadway but this year Broadway presented the bulk of the year’s outstanding works. [more]

Technopoly

December 24, 2021

With narrative flashes reminiscent of Rod Serling’s striking storytelling, "Logic & Hope" is a resonant examination of a heterosexual marriage during the era of early COVID-19. A cooped up middle class New York City couple navigate their relationship during job loss and pregnancy. Masking, sheltering in place and existential unease are represented by Mr. Murphy through sharp details. Murphy then gives us psychological turns and plot twists out of Lillian Hellman. Actors Jake Robertson and Marissa Caraballo offer vivid portrayals as the troubled marrieds, with John Sannuto giving a wry telephone voice-over performance as the wife’s grandiose financier father. [more]
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