In the Schoolyard

Simmons (book and lyrics) can write funny lines, and there are more than a few in her musical… But this musical is not simply a showcase for some good actors to show-off their vocal cords or hoofing. And it's not about cracking jokes for their own sake…This show is funny, sad, and ultimately tragic. Even if you don't cry easily, you just might find yourself shedding a tear at the ending.

- Deirdre Donovan, CurtainUp

Kathryn Kates is a standout as the feisty, compassionate Mrs. Rivera and consistently garners big laughs. Patti Goettlicher has a charming stage presence beaming and crooning sweetly as Annie. Eddie Schnecker is strong as Jerry and performs one of the show's strongest song and dance numbers, "Small Town Attorney."… Vincent Ticali has warmth as Eddie, the narrator…

Jason S Grossman, nytheater

In the Schoolyard’s top-flight musical numbers range from heartwarming — “Just a Small-Town Attorney;” to rollicking – “Blue Chip Teleconferencing: it’s here, it’s new, it’s the next best thing;” to hilarious – “The Best Latin Lover of Dartmouth ’71.” The sad secret of one of the men, which brings them all to a deeper appreciation of what is really important, is illuminated with a particularly haunting “I’m Coming Home.

- Mary Frost, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

For Brooklyn Heights resident Paulanne Simmons, inspiration for the musical "In the Schoolyard" was found close to home. It's about a group of guys who reunite each year to shoot hoops at P.S. 8, which, she says, "is five minutes from where I live."

Simmons, a journalist and teacher, adapted the show from a play based on her newspaper feature. "I did the story about 10 years ago," she says, adding that she was struck by how eloquent the guys became when they talked about basketball.

Big ideas about friendship, loss and life dribbled into the conversation. "When they were young, the game kept them out of trouble," she says. "As they got older, it was a fountain of youth

- Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News

A small handful of long-graduated Brooklyn students understand the commitment and value held in a lifelong friendship…In the late ’90s, Heights resident and writer Paulanne Simmons discovered this crew, which, she estimates, had already been reuniting annually for about 20 years at that time…She was touched by the story and identified with the friends’ ties to Brooklyn, having been raised in East New York herself…

- Caitlin McNamara, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Volunteer

A good premise and sweet telling of a basic story. Paulanne Simmons has a tender sense of these people and never makes them into standard or cliché characters. Some of them we recognize even in our own lives.

- Bill Bradford, Hi Drama 2

… energy and vitality enliven the stage with the ensemble acting of a tight-knit group of residents, Sylvia Goldman, Stella Bonafiglio and Harry Klein, played respectively by Frieda Lipp, Leni Tabb and Victor Barranca.

Jake Hall’s sound design is exquisite. 1940s sounds fill the theater before the action begins, lending a mood of jaunty innocence …

- Florence B. Kelly, New York Beaco