10291078_750157601675734_1905311181831910322_nCherry Smoke

The Huffington Post: David Finkle

If there’s a star turn, though, it’s O’Donnell as the fiery boxer forced when he was 9 to compete in a local match where he learned not only that he could prevail but also that authority, in the guise of his bullying father, was going to cut him no slack.

Incidentally, O’Donnell might be considered to have prepped for this part while appearing as one of the supporting players in the recent Golden Boy revival. He’s got the physique (his biceps look like oval rocks), and he knows how to access molten fury. He’s such a convincing Fish that his years as a Yale undergraduate where he was a Whiffenpoof and often performed in white tie and tails are something no onlooker would be likely to suss out.

NYTheaterNow: Monica Trausch

Through the skilled direction of Tamilla Woodard and the nuanced performances of the entire cast, particularly Vayu O’Donnell as Fish, this show is able to transcend simple, vernacular speech and truly move the audience.

Theater Pizzazz: Eric J. Grimm

Vayu O’Donnell conveys a consistent fury and passion as Cherry’s boxer boyfriend, Fish…

Theatre’s Leiter Side: Samuel L. Leiter

CHERRY SMOKE is in the highly capable directorial hands of Tamilla Woodard, and features an excellent ensemble with an especially potent performance by Vayu O’Donnell as Fish, a pugnacious, working-class amateur boxer from a small, poverty-riddled steel mill town in western Pennsylvania.

Vayu O’Donnell, a trimly muscular actor, demonstrates impressive boxing moves as he fights his invisible opponents. These scenes are well staged by fight director Rick Sordelet, who also creates a credible boxing lesson given by Fish.

CHERRY SMOKE is an expressive play about a neglected part of the national landscape, one that convincingly gives the fire of life to characters for whom the American dream is little more than blood, sweat, and tears without a meaningful payoff. It’s much more of a blow to the emotional solar plexus than a fantasy like ROCKY.

Time Square Chronicles: Suzanna Bowling
Mr. O’Donnell is like a force of nature and is more believable than the play. Our anti-hero is Fish (Vayu O’Donnell) who at the age of nine is forced into a fight by his father for food money. His opponent is an older boy who he savagely beats to a pulp. His psychological make-up is scared; he has become fists with a rage he cannot control.
Stephen Holt Show: Stephen Holt
Vayu O’Donnell is a ferocious one-man whirlwind, a “veritable “Rocky” in “Cherry Smoke” at Urban Stages til May 18. As a down-on-his-luck, in-and-out-of-prison small time troublemaker named Fish, O’Donnell has met head-on the challenge…. He literally blows up the stage with this anger at the world.

Golden Boy

The New York Times: Charles Isherwood

Throughout this blistering Lincoln Center Theater production, directed by Bartlett Sher and featuring a superb cast of almost 20 actors — a rare feast on Broadway these days — we watch in anguished anticipation as Joe struggles with a defining question..

The Wall Street Journal: Terry Teachout

“A cast as fine as any I’ve ever seen on Broadway!”

Newsday: Linda Winer

“An enormously satisfying revival with a huge, expert cast.”

Arts In NY: David Sheward

“The cast couldn’t be better. From Seth Numirch’s white-hot comet of a Joe to Vayu O’Donnell’s no-nonsense fight official who only appears for a few minutes, each performer is at the top of his game…”

tumblr_m8chlpTaRp1qep4q5o1_500Jester’s Dead

Best of New York Comedy

This show begins with a delightful concept—Top Gun performed as if written by William Shakespeare—and then executes it with the joyful craft only a sharp, tight theatrical ensemble can create. Everyone in the cast is terrific, but among the most memorable are Dan Hartley as Maverick, and Vayu O’Donnell who steals every scene he appears in with his hilariously deadpan delivery as Iceman.

20252_239992214071_4223463_nThe Picture of Dorian Gray Maura Kelley

The performance by Vayu O’Donnell, the actor playing Lord Henry, elevates this production in leaps and bounds. O’Donnell’s portrayal of the villainous aristocrat is multi-layered, well-crafted, and entertaining, and succeeds in driving the show forward. Scott Mitchell

The voice of detachment, amusement and hedonism is provided by Henry, wonderfully fleshed out by Vayu O’Donnell. Henry engages and influences the young Dorian to experience life fully but never seriously, as a game where the losers don’t count. Henry is the light, humorous and subversive voice of Oscar Wilde, readily familiar from his plays. And Mr. O’Donnell delivers the words with the panache that makes them irresistible.

imagesTales from the Tunnel Stephen Kalisky

After confidently hooking us, the play gently moves in more serious directions. We change from making fun of the homeless man to hearing the story from the homeless man himself. Vayu O’Donnell, a young Liev Schreiber with just as much understated ease, delivers a desolate and haunting monologue from a normal-guy-turned-crack-addict that virtually punches us in the face for laughing at such a person in the first place. Likewise, Farah Bala has a standout moment of her own as an Indian immigrant who experiences a racist assault in Brooklyn.

UnknownEdward the Second Tom Avila

O’Donnell skillfully manages to have it both ways, playing Gaveston as rakish social climber one moment and devoted lover the next. Tim Treanor

O’Donnell as Gaveston carries the weight of Edwards’ innovations, and does so very well.  When Edwards aims over the top – and she does so occasionally – it is generally O’Donnell who must make it work, and he does.  (When he appears in angel wings after his death to dance with Edward, it could be a comic moment in less skilled hands.  Here it is moving, and almost dignified.)

images-3Perfect Harmony Jason S. Grossman

Vayu O’Donnell does a terrific turn as the group’s soul-searching leader unsatisfied with simply winning the Nationals competition year after year. His tortured pop ballad medley after leaving the group is hilarious.

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