"Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight" - by Darcie Dennigan and Niki Healey - Wilbury Theatre Group (Providence, R.I.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of the musical "GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT" presented by Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence, R.I. now playing through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Erin X. Smithers)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“Well, it's three o'clock in the morning - Baby, I just can't treat you right." 

                                                                                           - Calvin Carter / Thornton James Hudson 

Wilbury Theatre Group 

Presents A World Premiere Musical 


Written By Darcie Dennigan

Music by Niki Healy

Directed by Josh Short 

Music Direction by Milly Massey

Choreography by Ali Kenner Brodsky

Cast Includes: Beth Alianiello, Sophie Appel, Lydia Grosswendt, Daraja Hinds, Jennifer Mischley, Christine Treglia 

Additional Creative Team:

Costume Designer - Matt Oxley; Video & Sound Designer - Andy Russ; Lighting Designer - Alexander Sprague; Set Designer - Monica Shinn; Assistant Director - Jeff Ginsberg; Stage Manager - Liam Horne*; Assistant Stage Manager - Kerin Hague; Front of House Management - Christine Treglia; Volunteer Management - Renee Bessette 


May 25, 2023 through June 11, 2023 

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)

THE WILBURY THEATRE GROUP, Inside the WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley Street, Providence 


Tickets range from $5 - $55 and are available at thewilburygroup.org/goodnight-sweetheart-goodnight 


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information. 

Wilbury Theatre Group presents the world premiere of a new musical, “GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT” and which begins as breezy fare but soon becomes a hurricane of hostility. 

The musical should absolutely NOT be confused with the 1950s hit song, "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite" by the Spaniels nor the later cover, "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" by the McGuire Sisters

Beyond sharing a common title, this new musical shares nothing with the above. 

While the song sought to delight, this musical, instead, seeks to disrupt - and, through that disruption, perhaps convey a strong message. 

“GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT” comes from poet and playwright Darcie Dennigan who focuses the musical on the work and life of Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.  

The score for “GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT” consists of inspired original lyrical compositions provided by Niki Healy, all designed to help propel forward Dennigan’s story of Gentileschi, one of the greatest artists of the Italian Baroque period. 

However, there is far more to this daring musical than a simple biographical depiction. 

The show, as directed by Josh Short, will surprise many as each musical number reconnoiters the legacy of oppressed women which, under the musical direction of Milly Massey and choreography by Ali Kenner Brodsky, turns into a visceral, bloody uprising against their oppressors...men. 

While the score begins with a simplistic vibe of a 60s’ pop “girl group” revue, it slowly devolves into something far more sinister and grotesque. 

While infused with a dynamic “punk” sensibility, one might also hear a wonderfully strong “Leonard Cohen” vibe prevalent in a few of the numbers. 

Throughout the musical, in between the musical numbers, there are moments when everything comes to a complete halt as we suddenly shift gears and the audience finds themselves at “art lectures.” 

During these momentary lectures, we learn more about Gentileschi and her art, about art in general, about the legacy of women as painted, perceived and projected in art form, with not all of it as “pretty and poetic” as one might be led to believe. 

(Photo: The CAST of the musical "GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT" presented by Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence, R.I. now playing through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Erin X. Smithers)

(Note: The following biographical information comes from a press release provided by Wilbury Theatre Group)   

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was an Italian painter and one of the most renowned female artists of her time. 

However, when Gentileschi was 17, she was raped by Agostino Tassi, a colleague of her father's who was hired to teach her perspective. 

The resulting trial was a traumatic experience for Gentileschi, as she was subjected to intense scrutiny, ridicule and torture. 

Tassi was eventually found guilty, but his punishment was never carried out. 

Despite this trauma, Gentileschi continued to paint and produced some of her most powerful works in the years following the trial. 

Her paintings often featured strong, heroic women from mythological or biblical stories, and she was known for her skillful portrayal of emotions and gestures. 

She was one of the few female artists of her time to enjoy significant success and recognition, and her works continue to be admired for their technical skill and emotional power.  

As each art lecture concludes, we return the musical as it seemingly descends further into madness. 

It cannot be understated how critical the supporting vocal ensemble was to the principal cast.

Not only does this combined structure serve to successfully commemorate Gentileschi’s accomplishments as a highly influential painter, it also reflects on the exploitation and abuse of women over time. 

The Cast includes a capable principal ensemble of singers Beth Alianiello, Sophie Appel, Lydia Grosswendt, Daraja Hinds, Jennifer Mischley and Christine Treglia supported by the aforementioned vocal ensemble. All the vocals blend well.

(Photo: The CAST of the musical "GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT" presented by Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence, R.I. now playing through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Erin X. Smithers)

There are a lot of visceral elements to this production – many quite graphic, disturbing, perplexing and a few which will have some finding them enjoyable, celebrating in the production's wonderful “weirdness.” 

Certainly, the multi-level set design by Monica Shinn and costumes by Matt Oxley contributed to the overall eclectic ambience while equally serving to successfully help advance much of the bizarre one-hour presentation.   

There will be those that totally grasp what is going on during the 60 minutes that is “GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT. 

The show is inspired, boldly artistic and intentionally eclectic. As such, it is also something that may NOT appeal to everyone and which some might find as bordering on pretentious.

The construct of the intermittent art lectures seems to "interrupt" the natural flow of the musical rather than help it advance. 

If these lecture segments were somehow better incorporated to help inspire the resulting songs, it might help with the overall fluidity of the musical.  

(Photo: The CAST of the musical "GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT" presented by Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence, R.I. now playing through June 11, 2023. Photo Credit Erin X. Smithers)

However, the musical is commendable for its mission to celebrate how art can reflect - not only images of great beauty, liberation and light (of which you probably won’t find any here – yet that’s subjective) - But also, conversely, images of great pain, oppression and darkness (of which there are plenty here – and that’s not subjective) and, through this reflection, perhaps offer a chance for enlightenment and suggest alternatives to help us evolve. 

There will also be those for which this material will totally confound them, exiting the theatre not understanding what the hell it is they just witnessed. 

In either scenario, though, the show should, at the very least, have people discussing those 60 minutes and perhaps lead them to more enlightened perspective of Artemisia Gentileschi, her tortuous life and her precious contribution to the world of art.    

“GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT” continues at the Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence until June 11th and, whether you leave the show loving it or hating it, you most assuredly won't leave the show forgetting it anytime soon.  

Approximately one hour with no intermission.

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




"GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART, GOODNIGHT" reunites award-winning playwright and poet Darcie Dennigan with director Josh Short for their third collaboration on a brand-new musical about the life and work of Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.  Recognized by art historians as one of the greatest artists of the Italian Baroque period, Artemisia is widely known not only for her work, but for the development of her work in response to being raped by a family friend at the age of 17 and the subsequent trial.  Featuring new music by composer Niki Healy, inspired by girl groups from the 1960’s and punk music of today, this new musical explores the experience of women and the bloodthirsty desire for vengeance in the face of oppression. 


Winner of the 2018 National Theater Company Award from the American Theatre Wing, THE WILBURY THEATRE GROUP is a professional, nonprofit theatre company that engages our community in thought-provoking conversation through new works, reimagined classics and adventurous playmaking. We are idealistic, ambitious, and stubborn in our resolve to create theatre that entertains, enlightens, and inspires.For more information visit thewilburygroup.org