Little Big Man

Height really doesn't matter much when you have a heart as large as Danny's. A twenty-something, four-foot-tall dwarf making his way in New York City, he is looking for love and acceptance, not only from a girl but also from himself. In Marc Goldsmith's play Danny Boy, playing at Classic Stage Company as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, we are invited along for his mostly humorous but sometimes heartbreaking search. The plot is like a delicious stew in which each character contributes his or her own unique ingredient. Danny and his friends have a natural, sizzling chemistry onstage as they sit around his messy bachelor-pad living room exchanging dialogue that is rich with sarcasm, wit, and a deep affection that's always evident, even in their bickering.

Danny's hilarious childhood buddy, Gabe (Troy Hall), a lovable loser who can't manage to keep a job as Santa's helper, becomes fiercely protective when he feels his friend's personal integrity is being threatened. As Danny's life unfolds, we begin to understand why he inspires such deep loyalty from those around him.

Stephan Jutras brings a beautiful inner life to Danny, showing us a genuinely kind man with a magnetic personality who struggles to come to terms with the stereotypes that are always attached to people of his size. Jutras adds many layers to his character, expressing worry and pain with his eyes while fighting to keep his voice from cracking when admitting his anxieties to his seductive dream girlfriend, Allison, played wonderfully by Sarah Schoenberg.

But the person Danny needs the most protection from is himself. Often uncomfortable in his own skin, his insecurity is best demonstrated by a fishbowl full of dollars that he keeps on a nightstand. Every time he unnecessarily apologizes for himself or his feelings, he must add another dollar to the bowl. Eventually, his life unravels to the point where he is dropping napkins into the bowl with IOU scribbled across the front.

Danny Boy focuses on a character who often falls through the cracks in mainstream theater, and so this is not the type of play we see often. But Goldsmith's delightfully comedic and deeply moving production makes it a story that we will want to hear many times again.

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