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Feb 10, 2013 - Feb 19, 2013
By David Lindsay-Abaire (Pulitzer Prize for Rabbit Hole)
DATES: Feb. 8 – 24, 2013
Margie Walsh can’t catch a break. Laid off from her job at the dollar store, Margie is faced with the reality that South Boston is providing her the same level of opportunity it always has: none. Wry, rough around the edges and ready to make a change, she goes to seek out the one who got away – both from “Southie” and from her. Instead, she finds herself in the burbs and out of her element, facing the question – is opportunity granted or earned? Nominated for a 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People takes an affectionate look at the “haves” and “have nots” through the eyes of characters who won’t be ignored.
In addition to being nominated for a Tony Award, Good People was named Best Play of 2010-11 by the New York Drama Critics Circle, as well as featured on the 2011 “Top Ten” theater lists of New York Magazine, Newsday, Time Out New York and the Associated Press.
Margaret – Becky Scholtec
Stevie – Michael Tallman
Dottie – Deb Copeland
Jean – Kelli Hamlow
Mike – Jonathan deLima
Kate – Tiffany Johnson
Director – Todd Buchacker
Stage Manger – Nicole Taweel
Set Designer – Jay Jagim
Props Designer – Susan Sheriff
Dialect Coach – John Graham
Sound Designer – Josh Jepson
Set Construction – Paul Mostrom
Hair/Makeup Designer – Cindy Hummel
Lighting Designer – Drew David Vander Werff
Costume Designer – Sara Jablon
Production Manager – Mike Tweeton
“Good People excels well beyond just good”
Theatrical review by John Busbee The Culture Buzz 2/8/2013
When two socioeconomic worlds rooted in the same South Boston neighborhood reconnect, it’s almost immediately obvious that time doesn’t heal all wounds. David Lindsay-Abaire’s engaging Good People, thanks to StageWest’s continued dedication to delivering new stage experiences to Greater Des Moines audiences, resonates with a special wit, execution and tension.
Lindsay-Abaire (his name was hyphenated when he married actress Christine Lindsay), hasn’t done much looking back since his first theatrical success, Fuddy Meers. The Pulitzer Prize-winning artist (for Rabbit Hole) expanded from the stage to the silver screen – Robots and the film adaptation of Rabbit Hole – and Broadway musicals (book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical). Good People allows Lindsay-Abaire the chance to bring people back home with him. Raised in blue-collar, Irish-Catholic South Boston (think Good Will Hunting and The Departed), he sifts through the culture-rich history of his youth to capture more than the conflict between haves and have-nots. His characters in Good People are densely layered, covering a range of traits, and immensely human. This play has been described as “authentic, funny, moving and insightful” – and, under Todd Buchacker’s skillful direction, StageWest’s production delivers.
Starting in South Boston’s Lower End (where they grew up as “Southies”) and ending in Chestnut Hill, Good People (the oft-heard affirmation for flawed people from the leading character) follows the trials and tribulations of struggling single mother, Margaret, played with vibrant allure by Becky Scholtec. After getting fired from her low wage job at the Dollar Store by her much younger boss, bingo-loving Stevie (given conflicted sincerity by Michael Tallman), she is determined to find a new job. Joined in her apartment by two friends, Dottie (Deb Copeland, with great crusty old woman believability) and Jean (Kelli Hamlow, delivering a memorable, roguish role), Margie weighs her options for a new job. She thinks that someone from her youth, Mike (a wonderfully, still-conflicted Jonathan deLima, whose success remains affected by his “Southie” youth), now a doctor, might have a job for her. They also had a summer romance before he left the Lower End. Although he doesn’t have a job for her, he weakens to Margie’s appeals, inviting her to a party at his home, where Margie hopes one of the guests might have a job for her. In Act 2, although the party was cancelled (“I misunderstood,” says Margie), Margie comes anyway, believing she was being uninvited. There she meets Kate (which Tiffany Johnson presents with poised grace), and the unpeeling of layers of Mike’s younger days begins, while intertwining with Margie’s current fate. The give and take during these scenes is delectable, and sometimes uncomfortable.
Performances of note include Hamlow, who skillfully delivers zinger after zinger, endearing herself to the audience in all of her scenes. deLima masterfully garbs his modern doctor to cover the still-too-close-to-the-surface remnants of his rough boyhood. This show, however, belongs to Scholtec, who brings a tour-de-force performance in her Margaret. Like Boston’s great heavyweight boxer, John L. Sullivan, Scholtec delivers her lines like a fighter, feinting, bobbing and weaving, taking her fair share of shots, while delivering some devastating blows. Through her superb use of stage presence, delivery and nuance, Scholtec guides Margaret often swings between vulnerable and powerful, sometimes in moments.
The entire cast (except for Kate, of course, who’s not a “Southie”) has a fine command of the Boston dialect. Enhanced by Jay Jagim’s exceptional set design, which allows the challenging Stoner Theatre space to unfold and evolve into the play’s necessary settings, StageWest does another stellar job in giving Iowa this premiere. Be sure to catch this show before it closes.
Theater review: StageWest’s Good People
Review by Michael Morain The Des Moines Register 2/11/2013
All of Margaret Walsh’s recent problems started with a chunk of peanut brittle.
She didn’t have time for a decent lunch, so she ate the candy on the go and broke a tooth. She couldn’t afford a dentist, so she ignored it until it abscessed and became a more expensive problem, forcing her to skip a car payment. When her car was repossessed, she had trouble getting to work and juggling childcare, which eventually led her to lose one low-end job after another.
Whether that chain of events is the result of bad choices or bad luck is the central question of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People, a terrific new play at the Stoner Theater through Feb. 24. The StageWest production is funny, moving, timely and — perhaps inadvertently — one of the best ways to understand the so-called “class warfare” in modern American politics.
The story begins in the alley behind a dollar store in South Boston, where the store’s young manager (Michael Tallman) fires middle-aged Margie (Becky Scholtec) for showing up late. It’s not a great scene and, frankly, the nasal Southie accents are a little distracting.
But just as Margie’s prospects get worse, the show itself takes a sharp turn for the better, thanks in large part to director Todd Buchacker’s smart guidance and Scholtec’s scrappy finesse. She hits her stride back at Margie’s shabby apartment, where her two clucky friends (Deb Copeland, Kelli Hamlow) stop bickering just long enough to offer their moral support.
Hamlow’s character, the aptly nicknamed “mouthie from Southie,” suggests Margie call up an old high-school flame named Mike (Jonathan deLima), who might help her find a new job. He’s a successful doctor now, “but he was always good people,” she says. “You should call him. You never know.”
So Margie visits Mike’s downtown office, where their class differences couldn’t be more obvious. While he clawed his way up to med. school and a marriage, she stayed put and raised a mentally disabled daughter without any help from the girl’s father. (For evidence: Look no further than Jay Jagim’s detailed set. Mike’s office shelves display executive knickknacks; Margie’s kitchen is cluttered with late-‘70s Tupperware.)
But the viewer’s sympathy for Margie waxes and wanes. Scholtec is a whirling dervish of passive-aggression, and deLima (who grew up with the playwright) is consistently gracious.
Margie eventually guilts the good doctor into inviting her to a party at his home in the suburbs, where his self-possessed wife (Tiffany Johnson) mistakes her for one of the caterers. (The same thing happened to Scholtec earlier this season in the title role of Becky’s New Car at the Des Moines Community Playhouse.)
The comedy of manners that escalates in the doctor’s swanky living room is as sharply written as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and God of Carnage, which Repertory of Theater of Iowa staged last spring. It’s less gut-wrenching than the playwright’s Rabbit Hole, about a couple’s grief after the death of their child, which StageWest produced in 2009, but the new show is just as riveting. The sheer gap between the haves and have-nots is devastating.
The show ends with Margie and her friends at the Bingo hall. Maybe they miss a few calls, maybe they have bad cards — but nobody wins big.