H A Standing Ovation for
Joe Reilly By J u l i a Cava l l o
n June 27, 2009 the lights dimmed, the curtains closed for the last time. The final line of Joe Reilly’s play was spoken as he went home to grace the happiest play of all in heaven. It is hard to think of Joe without thinking about plays and movies, his stories and your stories. He loved them all. He had great affection for people and their stories, especially when he could make people laugh. Joe loved to tell stories about his time in the Army, school days at Holy Innocents in Pittsburgh’s Sheraden neighborhood and the early Saint Vincent Theatre while sitting on a blue chair at a table covered with red and white checkers and holding a handful of popcorn at the Summer Theatre Cabaret. “He loved human nature, human folly and especially stories that showed himself in a ridiculous light,” his daughter, Colleen, remarked in describing her father’s favorite kind of stories. His start in the theatre is itself a good story. In the fall of 1964, Joe was a Saint Vincent Seminary student who had to go in to Pittsburgh to register for the draft. He went down near the willow trees that line Fraser Purchase Road and began hitchhiking.