World Premiere Play Illustrates the Importance of Marriage
By Mary Damiano
Wear waterproof mascara and bring lots of tissues.
That’s the best advice for anyone going to see Daniel’s Husband, the new play by Michael McKeever, now receiving its world premiere at Island City Stage in Fort Lauderdale.
McKeever introduces us to Daniel a successful architect, and Mitchell a successful writer, who appear to be the perfect couple. The play opens as the couple is entertaining friends at a lively dinner party. Daniel cooks gourmet meals, Mitchell cleans up, they play games and discuss marriage, an institution that Mitchell does not believe in, for gay or straight couples. The subject is a sore point for Daniel, who has wanted to marry Mitchell from their romantic first date. Mitchell is adamant in his refusal to believe a piece of paper can change anything in their relationship.
But when the unthinkable happens, Mitchell realizes just how much that piece of paper can change a relationship and how important it really is.
This is an elegant play, with no wasted space, no filler. Each scene presents new information and emotion, and in about eight short scenes over 90 minutes, the audience is taken on an emotional ride from belly laughs to heart-wrenching sobs.
Antonio Amadeo, a terrific actor missing too long from South Florida stages, delivers a brilliant, indelible performance as Mitchell. The emotion bubbling up inside and then pouring out of him is heart-wrenching to watch.
As Daniel, Alex Alvarez, turns in another fine performance full of passion and heartbreak. Alvarez is a big teddy bear of a man who beautifully portrays Daniel’s journey.
Laura Turnbull, who plays Daniel’s mother Lydia, embodies a Pride flag-waving society mom with too much time on her hands, a woman whose love can be a liability. Turnbull imbues Lydia enough shades of grey that make her hard to hate, despite her actions.
They are ably supported by Larry Buzzeo and Kristian Bikic as friends who round out this talented cast. Except for Turnbull, this is the same cast that appeared in the staged reading of Daniel’s Husband presented at Lynn University in January.
Director Andy Rogow has assembled the designers that have made such excellent use of Island City Stage’s intimate space. Michael McClain’s scenic design is perfectly tasteful and upscale, Preston Bircher’s lighting is atmospheric and David Hart’s sound punctuates the drama.
Daniel’s Husband is a play everyone should see, not only because it’s fine drama at its best, but also because it has the ability to change minds about marriage and call to action those who have not taken proper steps to ensure their future wishes are respected. Don’t miss this brilliant production.
Daniel’s Husband runs through June 28 at Island City Stage in Fort Lauderdale. Some performances are already sold out. For tickets and more information, visit IslandCityStage.org.