Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Theater Review: "A Dance For Rylie" Soars

by Damon L. Jacobs

Some of my favorite stories on daytime were told with characters who yearned to be together despite having profound individual differences and emotional and physical barriers to overcome.   Steve and Kayla on DAYS, Todd and Blair on OLTL, and more recently Olivia and Natalia on GL, were all great examples of couples where shame and fear became the biggest obstacle to love, versus tired gimmicks like dead spouses and evil twins.   I was reminded of these more interesting and complex relationships while enjoying A Dance For Rylie, a new musical being performed at 45 Bleecker Street, in New York,  NY.

Rylie (Philip Deyesso) learns he is HIV positive during the first few minutes of the show.  His initial instinct, as is for many, is to isolate himself and cut off from friends and family.  Fortunately his best bud Samantha (Kimberly Michelle Thomas) coaxes him into a night on the town, during which he meets and falls in love with HIV negative Matthew (Adam Ryan Tackett).  How does Rylie overcome his shame and fear while getting closer to the man he loves? How does he respond to his mind's messages to run away from Matthew while his heart begs him to let go?  These are exactly the conflicts that made the aforementioned couples on daytime so compelling, and what makes "A Dance For Rylie" such a fascinating and rewarding theater experience.

Written by Stephan Davis, "Rylie" takes the audience on an emotional journey of hope, humor, and tragedy.  He use of music allows stirring insights into each character's thoughts, perceptions, and feelings.  Rarely has any artistic piece striven to illuminate the intricacies and complexities of a serodiscordant (HIV negative and HIV positive) couple, and Davis's ambitious undertaking is matched only by the all-out emotional performances of this talented cast.  Philip Deyesso as Rylie is especially able to bring a refreshing pulse of life and vitality to a man who is given every reason to give up.  Deyesso's ability to convey Rylie's internal hopes, fears, disappointments, and resilience, often all in the same moment, help to make this theater piece an inspiring and Kleenex-grabbing experience you will not soon forget.

Short Attention Soap Summary (S.A.S.S.)

WHAT IS IT: "A Dance For Rylie," with book and lyrics by Stephan Davis, featured as part of the Planet Connections Theater Festival at 45 Bleecker Street in New York City.  Tickets on sale for $18 for  Friday 6/8/12 – 4:00pmSunday 6/10/12 – 10:00pm, Wednesday 6/13/12 – 5:00pm, Tuesday 6/19/12 – 6:00pmAll ticket sales benefit The Ali Forney Center. 
!!  Special talkback discussion with Damon L. Jacobs of We Love Soaps TV following the 6/13 performance  !! 

WHY SOAP FANS WILL LOVE IT: As mentioned above, watching couples overcome tremendous obstacles to love are what made soap fans so loyal.  Daytime fans will have a special appreciation for the character based conflicts, and the friends and family who participate in the relationship. 

BOTTOM LINE:  If you were a fan of "Otalia" on GUIDING LIGHT, "Kish" on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, "Nuke" on AS THE WORLD TURNS, you will cherish every moment of this new show.

VERDICT: Don't let this show "Dance" out of Manhattan without seeing it!  Buy tickets here. 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Psychotherapist in New York City who specializes in treating grief/loss, depression, stress management, anger management, addiction, HIV issues, and bullying. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at Amazon.com. For more information about scheduling a speaking engagement, please email him at [email protected], or check out www.shouldless.com


  1. A Dance For Rylie sounds brilliant. It would be an excellent theatre trip for those in NYC to see Jake Silbermann's new play 3C!

  2. A Dance For Rylie sounds brilliant. It would be an excellent theatre trip for those in NYC to see Jake Silbermann's new play 3C!