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Off Broadway

Daniel’s Husband: A Cautionary Tale of Gay Marriage

Daniel’s Husband: A Cautionary Tale of Gay Marriage
Ryan Spahn, Matthew Montelongo

Ryan Spahn, Matthew Montelongo. Photo by James Leynse.

I wasn’t prepared for that. Once again, the wonderfulness of not having any idea where something is heading is truly my favorite position to be in when walking into the theatre.  This was no exception. In Michael McKeever’s complex and engaging new play, Daniel’s Husband, we are invited in for a dinner party, the setting that starts numerous other conflict themed drama.  As is customary for these types of serious relationship and family dramas, we join the group in a well appointed living room for wine, conversation, and some deliciously sounding dessert.  Here, in this timely play, it is the lovely home of the perfect gay couple, architect Daniel Bixby and his boyfriend, novelist Mitchell Howard.  Daniel, keenly and precisely played by Ryan Spahn (Primary Stage’s Exit Strategy) has created a modern clean living environment, perfect for entertaining guests with his loving partner, and on this particular night, they have invited Mitchell’s close friend and literary agent, Barry Dylon, wonderfully played by Lou Liberatore (Broadway’s Burn This) and his adorably young new boyfriend, Trip, the home care specialist, lovingly portrayed by Leland Wheeler (We Need to Talk About Kevin).

Anna Holbrook, Matthew Montelongo, Lou Liberatore

Anna Holbrook, Matthew Montelongo, Lou Liberatore. Photo by James Leynse.

All is going well, with witty conversations and delicious creme brûlée surrounded by post modern furniture, an old fashioned record collection, a fireplace, and modern art (impeccable design team: scenic: Brian Prather; costume: Jennifer Caprio: lighting: Christina Watanabe; original music & sound Design: William Neal), when Trip mistakenly refers to the perfect couple as a married one.  It seems that this is a point of contention, where the conflict between Daniel and his boyfriend lies.  Daniel wants the wedding, but Mitchell is adamantly against becoming anyone’s husband, for numerous strongly stated reasons.  It’s an intense exchange, somewhat artificial, but very relatable that contains a lecture and ends with a closing shout of  “ENOUGH” by Daniel.  It’s unclear how this topic of gay marriage will eventually be played out and debated, but it is definitely where this is headed.

Matthew Montelongo

Matthew Montelongo. Photo by James Leynse.

Enter Daniel’s mother, the well-heeled modern and socially conscious Lydia Bixby, played with a needy and brittle charm by Anna Holbrook (Primary Stage’s The Dolphin Position).  She’s wonderfully vocal and kind to Mitchell, but it is also clear she needs so much reassurance and attention from her uncomfortable son. The conversation as written here feels even more contrived at moments than the previous scene, making sure all the complexities of their relationships are firmly stated and in place without giving any clues away about what is in store. As neatly directed by Joe Brancato (Miracle on South Division Street), we are thoroughly engaged in this couple, loving and caring for them, waiting for the dilemma to present itself.  In what form will it come? Well, I’m not going to tell you, but it does arrive soon after, and the choices these two have made over the course of their seven year relationship will have intense consequences, devastatingly so.

Daniel’s Husband expertly walks us through the complicated world where some hard fought human equality rights were won, but not desired by all. The right to marry, yes, but the personal desire to marry is a different thing.  Some enjoy being outside the status quo and the traditional path, and although it’s clear that Mitchell is going to have to deal with his stance in the end, we are all firmly behind this couple, and believe in their love and attachment to each other, maybe more so than the liberal mother.  The writing is clumsy and scripted at times, as it doesn’t always feel real, but the debate isn’t one-sided either.  Both sides are well stated, and explored. It’s a beautifully crafted plot, expertly realized, that leaves us in shock.  Devastatingly intense right up to the final moments, it is no easy walk in the park, nor down the aisle, but Daniel’s Husband is a cautionary story we all need to hear and understand.

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Off Broadway

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to

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