Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

About the show

Primary Stages takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot—or not—through the story of Daniel and Mitchell, a seemingly perfect couple with different views on marriage.

... Read more

Daniel and Mitchell have the perfect house, perfect friends, even a mother who wants them to wed. What isn't perfect is that Daniel longs to be married and Mitchell does not. A turn of events forces both men to face the consequences of their opposing views when they learn that they are living in a world where fundamental rights aren't always so fundamental.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews


“For a play that wears its agenda on its sleeve, it is surprisingly heartrending…As with the best of such stories, we take it to heart and think about what we would do in a similar situation. A lot of this has to do with an incredibly moving performance from Montelongo…Brancato has directed his actors to thoughtful and emotional performances...While a braver dramatist would leave room for a convincing opposition or murkier circumstances, McKeever makes his case forcefully and effectively.” Full Review

The New York Times

"The dialogue is occasionally artificial and a few plot points contrived, yet it’s still a tear-jerker and a heart-yanker...The writing isn’t always plausible...But you believe in the relationship at the play’s center. The sentimental 'Daniel’s Husband' works best as a romance...Montelongo is more saturnine, and Spahn is more manic. Together they become a couple that you want to cheer for even as the play makes you put down your pompoms fast." Full Review

New York Theater

"'Daniel’s Husband' becomes an odd and simplistic cautionary tale. Only the acting under Joe Brancato’s direction saves us from utter authorial strong-arming...Just as Lydia and Mitchell wind up warring with one another, so do the two halves of the play. Both wars are undermining—and avoidable. Had McKeever begun 'Daniel’s Husband' with Daniel’s illness, 'Daniel’s Husband' might have been a wholly affecting drama." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“The play, trenchantly directed by Joe Brancato, received a rousing reception the night I went but, for all its pleasantries and the inherent interest of its subject, its by-the-numbers contrivances in order to make a point left me numb…What might have made for an interesting debate about gay marriage devolves into dramaturgic schmaltz in which Mitchell and Daniel's relationship becomes involved in litigious matters that a little foresight could easily have resolved.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“McKeever has a keen ear for dialogue…But a Lifetime movie–style plot development causes the play to take stark turn, and the chance for subtlety and complexity goes out the window. This play has a lesson it wants to impart, hard. Thanks to an excellent ensemble, you feel deeply for these characters, even as you realize you're being emotionally manipulated…The polish of the delivery only makes the piece feel even more like an after-school special for grown-ups.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“There is a major spoiler, which I’ll do my best to circumvent, that comes halfway into the evening and which transforms this light dramedy into a bleak and angry soap opera cum public service announcement. Still, the production is impeccably acted and perfectly paced, so one cannot help but be drawn into the dark action…Whatever message the playwright was hoping to bring to the surface gets muddied by the results of these characters’ actions, or the lack thereof.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"McKeever’s complex and engaging new play...As neatly directed by Brancato, we are thoroughly engaged in this couple, loving and caring for them, waiting for the dilemma to present itself...The writing is clumsy and scripted at times, as it doesn’t always feel real, but the debate isn’t one-sided either. Both sides are well stated and explored. It’s a beautifully crafted plot, expertly realized, that leaves us in shock. Devastatingly intense right up to the final moments." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

“The opening scene is meant to be funny...It could not be more television sit-com in conception and dramatic realization…Mr. Wheeler gives his oft maligned character a depth and authenticity that is refreshing and welcomed…Mitchell is not a likeable character and that makes connecting to Mr. McKeever’s play more difficult…Unfortunately, because of the shallow characterizations, it is difficult to care for any of these characters despite their potentially important conflicts.” Full Review

The Wrap

“Only marginally better [than ‘Gently Down the Stream'] thanks to Brancato, who directs his fine cast to play against type. Holbrook turns the evil mother into something other than a shrew. As the partner who doesn’t want to marry, Montelongo makes a lot of sense when he says he has no interest in aping the heterosexual lifestyle. And Wheeler’s considerate care-giver turns every cliché about the young gay twinkie on its head…‘Daniel’s Husband’ and ‘Gently,' perhaps, are the price of liberation.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Michael McKeever is a seasoned and brilliant writer, and 'Daniel’s Husband' is a powerful look into the world of gay couples…This ensemble of fine actors is seamlessly woven together through a tapestry of multi-level themes via the fine hand of director Joe Brancato who, like the actors, are each devoted to telling the truth and exalt the human experience. ‘Daniel’s Husband’ will remain with you as a powerful piece of writing and reflection.” Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"The cast of five excellent actors spins out Mr. McKeever’s intricate and organic dialog so that we are always on the alert because it is full of surprises, all of which stem from truth...I found it totally absorbing, cumulatively very moving, and ultimately thought-provoking...Joe Brancato’s direction is fluid and tight, so that all viewpoints are expressed with fervor, even passion by the different characters...It all adds up to a powerful 90 minutes of live theatre." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"It initially seems as if a sly commentary on contemporary gay culture might be just what playwright McKeever is going for...McKeever’s characters certainly get more complex as the play gets more serious. The five actors deserve much of the credit here...But as much as I want to champion this play, a few things give me pause...It teases us with a much-needed discussion before using scare tactics to convince us of the best way to be gay." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"When an unexpected event occurs that literally tears at the fibers of their relationship and beings, we learn the true colors of family and friends (kudos to über adorable Lealand Wheeler (Trip) and Barry Dylon (Lou Liberatore)…Incredibly humorous turns devastatingly tragic in a mere 90 minutes. Sometimes we argue about concepts and principles and forget there could be (as slight as the chance could be) some real-world consequences to our actions.” Full Review

Out Magazine

"The tone is extremely funny and light, then takes a wild turn toward the dramatic when something happens to one of the main characters...In going from breezy cocktail chatter to devastating dramatics, McKeever performs an impressive tightwire act, and his cast is deft with every turn." Full Review

Off Off Online

"McKeever’s comedy-drama about the still-new era of gay marriage is cleft in two—part one: comedy, part two: drama—and both halves are effective, if you’re willing to accept some questionable behavior on the part of the title character...Melding the two is a substantial challenge for director Joe Brancato, and he does very well, aided by a cast that knows when to turn up the heat for the big moments and when to tone it down...It’s Mitchell’s journey that might raise questions of credibility." Full Review


“If anything, you might feel that ‘Daniel's Husband’ is terminally cute or realize that it can never completely transcend the sitcom attributes and tendencies it shares. Still, it's hard not to laugh throughout most of the proceedings, and then to cry in the end. Directed with verve and panache by Joe Brancato, it's also performed with consistently fine results by its five-member ensemble.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews by John Clum

"McKeever has crafted his play brilliantly, moving from witty banter to argument to crisis. There were a lot of laughs in the first half and a lot of sniffling during the denouement. Yet I could not help thinking how stupid the couple was...Brancato has paced the play effectively and the cast couldn't be better...It's not a masterpiece; it's an old-fashioned drama built to please. I don't mean that in a condescending way. It was a pleasure to experience such a well-made play." Full Review

Nitelife Exchange

“A stunning play. This is a work that’s not only profoundly moving, but offers a wealth of insight into human nature…Brancato has worked brilliantly with the material and his actors, creating a beautifully paced piece of remarkable authenticity…This is a work that presents an all too rare opportunity to experience the creative brilliance of a playwright who not only has something to say, but whose insights into the human condition can be a powerful stimulant.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"From its invitingly funny opening to the unbearable hurt of its twist, 'Daniel’s Husband' brings to the stage a uniquely raw and emotional portrayal of a modern relationship rocked by the unthinkable. In Joe Brancato’s capable hands as a director, this truly exquisite production, heartbreaking and captivating, is a must-see this spring...Each character is so well-developed, and each performance so rich, it’s impossible not to be sucked into their world...Nothing short of breathtaking." Full Review

Theater Life

“McKeever’s predictable tale feels manipulative and often contrived with basically stereotypical characters used to craft the playwright’s opinions…Although the actors are likable and their work earnest, you never feel a chemistry beyond friendship…The performances in Brancato’s staging all lack emotional depth so the play turns overly talky...Without a passionately layered subtext, the evening fails to engage or resonate with authenticity." Full Review

Daily Beast

“A profound look at love and commitment and the uncertainties of life…Extremely well-written…It would be wrong to reveal too much, because playwright McKeever takes such a powerful and unexpected turn that you are left gasping…Plays with a social message can sometimes feel more pedantic than dramatic. But this beautifully written and powerfully acted show avoids that problem.” Full Review

Gay City News

"'Daniel's Husband,' perhaps the most intriguingly titled play on the New York boards this season, shines a light on this rarely examined minority. But does the insightful dramedy, by Michael McKeever, live up to the promise of its tantalizing title? Absolutely...Director Joe Brancato has elicited fine performances from the gifted ensemble. The increasingly distraught Mitchell is rendered with astute emotional elasticity by Matthew Montelongo in a deeply felt, heartrending turn." Full Review

NYC Theatre Addict

"'Daniel’s Husband' is not a very good play. It is a predictable 'we don’t know what we got until it is taken away' play. The characters and dialogue are simple, which is a blessing against all the 'too gay' plays that do more making fun of gay men than shedding light on them. 'Daniel’s Husband' was like a really good Lifetime movie on stage...The best scenes of all were between the primary couple when all the friends and relatives were gone." Full Review

Boy Culture

“The stock characters began to flesh out in unexpected ways, the familiar banter became less pat…Then everything changed, and with a dramatic plot point, ‘Daniel's Husband’ became both a topical play about gay marriage and a subtle, unflinchingly savvy character study…Terrific performances from everyone onstage make it hard to choose standouts…On top of being a damn interesting play, ‘Daniel's Husband' also benefits from its fantastic set by Brian Prather.” Full Review

Norwalk's Hamlet Hub

for a previous production “Director Joe Brancato has paced his expert company artfully, confidently, sensitively…Tension rides in everyone, and especially in you, that smart one, in the audience. Playwright McKeever has had the audacity to begin his tragedy as a comedy and landed a poignant success, bringing everyone in his audience, canes, walkers, wheelchairs and all, to their feet.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing

See it if Are looking for insights into the world of human relationships

Don't see it if You have no heart

Cliched, Tedious

See it if You love to get teary, and have a very low teary threshold.

Don't see it if Stereotypes are not apart from reality, but if you have a low threshold for them, & generally don't like to be hit over the head, stay away.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Relevant, Solid performances

See it if you enjoy good meaty drama. Writing is at time clumsy and there are a number of contrivances to deal with.

Don't see it if you don't want to have your heart broken by the end of the play.

Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you like gay themes, arguments for gay marriage and good acting.

Don't see it if you dislike gay themes, or can't take a little melodrama.

Also The show has a narrow scope (Why would two men marry?), but addresses ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Profound, Resonant

See it if Absolutely devastating. Great performances. Wish everyone who is anti-gay marriage could see this.

Don't see it if It abruptly switches gears in mid-stream. The middle section was very hard to watch. I had to look away.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Entertaining, Well-acted

See it if The story may surprise you; it did me, even having read reviews. Well acted and written, with an unpredictable ending

Don't see it if You can't attend by this weekend.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you like well written, character driven pieces with an interesting perspective on its subject matter (in this case marriage)

Don't see it if the second half was hard to watch because of a twist

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Indulgent

See it if You want a glimpse into a realistic life experience & the emotions that involves. This play takes on a subject and explores the intricacies.

Don't see it if You aren't up for your emotions to be manipulated. Though the subject matter is real & intense it, at times, gets a little sugary & preachy.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You like shows that force you too think.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with shows that don't end happily

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are looking for a well-acted, thought-provoking piece on the issue of gay marriage.

Don't see it if you are looking for something light and funny. While it has its light moments, there is also an intensity to this piece.

Also I thought this play was very cleverly constructed. Without giving too ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Timely, Good acting, Ok writing, Stock characters

See it if you are interested in a play that tackles the debate for & against gay marriage within the gay community and tells you which side to choose.

Don't see it if you want something that is more profound than a Lifetime movie. The characters entertain you, may affect you emotionally, but are hollow.

Funny, Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Romantic

See it if How important is it that one's romantic commitment is made legal? What is the purpose of marriage? A touching love story.

Don't see it if You are not interested in these questions. You don't like romances. You don't like funny stories about gay life.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You like theater that moves you emotionally and intellectually.

Don't see it if You have an overbearing mother and need a " trigger warning" to avoid an anxiety attack.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Disappointing

See it if You would like to see family dramas, conflict of love, illness and law.

Don't see it if You are homophobic. The plot is way more predictable than I thought, should be carried out more subtlely.

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Cliched, Good acting, Good staging

See it if McKeever's gay relationship drama skirts a fine line between wholehearted complexity & soap opera theatrics but brave committed performances

Don't see it if Accepting radical turn of events in mid-play a must for believability/enjoyment but does allow for a smart compendium of ideas on gay life

Funny, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if you enjoy watching the "perfect" gay couple wrestle with relationship and health issues. Well-crafted, emotionally engaging. Bring tissues.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with gay characters dealing with marriage issues in a contemporary setting. Quite intense emotionally; lots of humor.

Funny, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Tragic

See it if You are okay with seeing funny turn into tragic; you enjoy plays involving gay men

Don't see it if You need a happy ending; you don't like plays involving gay men

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you enjoy intelligent plays about real issues.

Don't see it if you are an idiot. This play is about something serious and it really deserves your full attention and compassion.

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You LOVE an AWESOME set design! Modern, yet classic. Blocking was good, so was the acting. Plot was touching, but, I didn't cry. Overall, ✔️

Don't see it if You dislike stories and LBGTQ and the obstacles they've faced or overcame. Still recommend. There was lots of humor, with some sadness.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if want to be totally absorbed for 95 minutes.

Don't see it if you are homophobic

Also The actors are outstanding in this brilliant play of modern day love.I... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Emotional

See it if you are up for an emotional ride ranging from LOL to heartbreak; you appreciate good acting and stories about love, family and commitment.

Don't see it if you don't deal well with misfortune and the unexpected twists life can throw at you; you forget to bring tissues.

Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Engaging, Upsetting

See it if you're interested in a remarkably honest and incisive look at the issues still facing gay couples despite recent advances in legal rights.

Don't see it if you're looking for a fun night out. This was legitimately upsetting (in a good way).

Great acting, Intense, Profound, Heart wrenching, Fast paced

See it if you like relationship stories, esp. where the personal and societal intertwine seamlessly. Love & heartbreak...but not how you'd expect.

Don't see it if you don't want to sob, you don't like relationship plays, you don't like unexpected twists and turns.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy great writing and great acting. The play is poignant and heart-felt.

Don't see it if you are not open to gay themes, gay marriage, etc.

Relevant, Cliched, Trite, Melodramatic

See it if A living room drama with a same sex relationship at its crux interest you or if you're looking for a good cry.

Don't see it if you're expecting this play to unpack an original argument on a run-of-the-mill custody battle.

Also This play fails to justify its place on the stage and belongs on LOGO ... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (12)