Colin McCormack (Gerald McCullouch) is a popular, well respected feature writer at a reputable newspaper in the great city of Pittsburg. Stewart Wisnieski (Dan Via) is an intelligent, uptight law professor, respected in his own right, but still not the perfect male specimen that can land a date with a glance. Colin & Stewart were roommates at Harvard and have been best friends for decades.
One night, on the heels of a gay marriage amendment which has sent aftershocks through both their professions, Stewart announces that he had been invited to interview at Stanford. Colin can barely process the news before their celebration is interrupted by a handsome young man, Thaddeus “Tee” Bloom (Ian Verdun). At first the men believe Tee is simple another star-struck young Turk bucking for Colin to take him home. But it turns that Tee, aside from admiring Colin’s work, is soon to be the new intern at the paper. Colin then launches into a welcome aboard speech, leaving Stewart, and the reason they are celebrating in the first place, momentarily forgotten. This would be the first time, in a string occasions when Tee would come between Stewart & Colin, although Colin does not seem to mind the distraction.
Colin’s professional mentorship of young Tee evolves into an awkward May-December romance and the writer finds himself in uncharted water. Colin steadily grows to care about Tee emotionally, seeing him less and less like a fling, and more and more as a partner.
Stewart is initially impatient with Colin’s uncharacteristic fascination with his latest conquest. But after spending a little time with Tee, Stewart gets to witness the charm, the intellect, and the many attractive qualities that Colin hailed in Tee. Alas, Stewart’s triumphant return from a promising interview at Stanford is overshadowed by the fact that he is slowly being replaced.
Stewart sees the end of Harvard’s oddest dynamic duo well before Colin does and he is willing to concede to it, if this is indeed what Colin wants. Except… There is something about Tee. Not his age. Not his demeanor. Something simply does not feel right about Tee. But can Stewart figure out what it is in time.
This show is SO GOOD. Daddy was simply a delightful night at the theatre. This production is an excellent reminder of just how engrossing, exciting and intense human interaction can be, on its face without the sexy lighting or harmless but addictive tunes to hold it up. Watching people try and be in the world, watching the effort to connect with other people, while bearing the mammoth impediment of just being who they are (our personality, our idiosyncrasies); that is the simplicity and the genius of this story. It is such a universally human thing.
The story of these three men is so inconspicuously provocative. The drama mounts so gently and evenly; before you know it, you will be pulled in, immersed and invested in the unfolding of this modern reinvention of the love triangle.
Playwright Dan Via has constructed a script riddled with red herrings, but they are not the kind gentle deceptions that make you feel cheated once the reveal happen. In Daddy, Via effectively transforms diversion into enticement, a difficult feat to accomplish in a story so intimate.
As sardonic Stewart Wisnieski, Dan Via’s comic delivery is impeccable. Guarded, yet intuitive, Via’s Stewart is the perfect foil for the extroverted, self-possessed Colin. Gerald McCullouch’s Colin is attractive, and oblivious and very likable. The awakening of Colin's paternal instinct is truly lovely to watch. The verbal sparring between the two men feels like the unmistakable banter of two friends who quasi-combative rapport has been perfected with age. Ian Verdun’s portrayal of Tee is a beautiful and narrow line between villain and victim. His cool, measured performance will keep you guessing until the very end. This cast was just terrific. Bravo!
Director Rick Sparks manages the shifting tones of Daddy with commendable acuity. He smartly paces wonderfully evocative performances from all, and fine tunes them into a robust concerto, exceptional in note and nuance. Well Done.
Honorable mention should be given to Dan Flemming for his surprisingly versatile set design. Together with some clever staging by Sparks, this production makes excellent use of the space.
The West Coast Premiere of Daddy is running now through February 13, 2001 @:
Hudson Mainstage Theatre
6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
Friday & Saturday @ 8pm,
Sunday @ 7pm
Ticket information: 323-960-7738
Photo Credit: Ed Krieger