BWW Reviews: Unexpected Stage's DANNY BOY Measures Up

By: Oct. 20, 2014
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When "Oh come on Danny, the fun is in the details!" is yelled from offstage in the second act, it really serves to emphasize what makes Unexpected Stage's latest production so refreshing. From a set featuring crumpled Chipotle bags on the floor and Bill Clinton's autobiography sticking out of a bookshelf to a script rich with real-people talk and pop culture references, the fun really is in the details in DANNY BOY, a lively, hectic, and on-the-level comedy.

Marc Goldsmith's play about the romantic misadventures of a little person, both in stature and emotional maturity, is making its DC-area premiere after its original award-winning New York International Fringe Festival production in 2006. The script isn't particularly ambitious, and that's part of its charm. It sticks close to the surface and carries its indie romcom-esque story in a straightforward style that achieves many laughs and several touching moments in the process.

Kristen Jepperson's highly detailed set design transforms the intimate and secluded Randolph Road Theater into an NYC bachelor pad, and Director/Co-Producing Artistic Director Christopher Goodrich's skillful blocking has the six-person ensemble cast posing, pacing, and even hopping around the stage in a manner that is always genuine and never cluttered or messy.

Leading this cast as Danny is Scott J. Strasbaugh, touted by the program as an in-demand "little actor" who has been seen on film in Zoolander and on stage at Signature Theatre, who attacks the role of a struggling, self-loathing manchild with delightful energy and humor, but it is Justus Hammond's dry delivery in the role of the best friend that truly steals the show.

Filling out the rest of the strong ensemble is Briana Manente as Danny's witty love interest, Lois Sanders-DeVincent as Danny's overbearing Jewish mother, Dawn Thomas Reidy, as Danny's dream girl, and Zach Brewster-Geisz as a neurotic computer millionaire. Each brings a unique comedic presense to the show.

Expect some minor hiccups along the way, (fumbled lines, set malfunctions), but at the end of the night DANNY BOY is a surprising journey that is happy to step down from the soap box and simply entertain.

Production photo: Scott Strasbaugh (Danny), Justus Hammond (Gabe), Briana Manente (Dori). Photo by Lewis Lorton.

Runtime: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

Unexpected Stage's DANNY BOY runs at Randolph Road Theater, 4010 Randolph Road Silver Spring, MD 20902, from October 16-26. Contains strong language. For tickets and more information visit www.unexpectedstage.org.



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