BWW Reviews: THE GOODBYE GIRL Gets A Rare Performance In Adelaide
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Thursday 4th June 2015
Therry Society's latest production, The Goodbye Girl, is the 1993 musical based on the film from 1977, with a book by Neil Simon, music by Marvin Hamlish, and lyrics by David Zippel. This production is under the seasoned team of director, Pam O'Grady, musical director, Mark DeLaine, and choreographer, Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti. Between them they have assembled a terrific cast and created a most enjoyable production. DeLaine's orchestra provides strong accompaniment to the singers and dancers.
Ex-dancer, Paula Mc Fadden, and her twelve year old daughter, Lucy, have been living as a family with an actor, Tony, in his New York apartment. They are expecting to move with him to the West coast where he has been offered a role in a film but, when they arrive home they find a note to say that he has left to go overseas to make a film instead. To add insult to injury, the apartment was rented entirely in his name, and he has sublet it to another actor, Elliott Garfield, leaving Paula and Lucy facing homelessness. Elliott gets a frosty reception, because Paula has sworn off men, especially actors, but she cannot keep him out as he also holds the lease. He eventually agrees to a truce and allows them to stay on, in the bigger bedroom, until they find somewhere to live. This means that Paula must find a job, and all that she knows is dancing.
At the auditions, she realises just how long she has been out of the business, her fitness levels having fallen leaving her unable to keep up. Elliott meanwhile has landed a role as Richard III in an avant-garde production of Shakespeare's play, turned into a high-camp disaster by an eccentric, if not totally insane, Hungarian director.
Along the way, their frosty interchanges have warmed slightly, and the charm of the young Lucy has captivated Elliot, leading him to notice the many good qualities of Paula through her loving relationship with her daughter. They gradually become more friendly, Elliot even acting as babysitter when Paula is auditioning, and we see him acting more like a father than a sitter.
When the play fails miserably and closes on the first night, Paula discovers that she is genuinely sorry for him and is mortified at the thought that she might just be falling for another actor. They finally express their feelings but, unexpectedly, Elliott is offered a film role and will be leaving for a while. Lucy, once again, sees her mother as the "goodbye girl" because not one of her former lovers has stayed. Is it really all happening again? There is only one way for you to find out, buy a ticket.
The casting of Lindsay Prodea, as Elliott, Fiona DeLaine, as Paula, and Henny Walters, as Lucy, is inspired. This is the finest performance that I have seen from Prodea so far which, considering his record of fine performances, is saying something. He brings a high level of authenticity to the role and convincingly conveys Elliott's changes of attitude to Paula.
DeLaine is equally memorable as Paula, brittle, angry, wary and with her self-confidence battered. DeLaine subtly displays Paula's insecurities, and the inner strength that she finds to keep going, gradually dropping her barriers and opening up to the possibility of a brighter future. There is a very believable mother/daughter relationship developed between her and Walters.
Walters is an absolute winner as Lucy, siding with her mother against the intruder but, discovering that Elliott is not the ogre that he first appeared to be and has turned out to be their friend, she warms to him All is well until Elliott and Paula fall for one another and Lucy shows her displeasure, fearing that Paula will be hurt once more. Walters shows all of these reactions, with many levels within each of them, in a performance that far more experienced performers would envy. This young lady is one to watch in the future. Put the three together and the interplay they develop between themselves is marvellous.
Numerous minor characters pass through their lives including their landlady, the overly inquisitive Mrs Crosby, played by Megan Humphries in fine form, Lucy's friends Cynthia and Melanie, played with plenty of youthful energy by Isabelle Oppedisano and Issy Darwent, Paula's dancer friends, Donna and Jenna, chreographer, Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti, and Hayley Wolfendale who both show their skill. Paul Rodda plays three roles, Billy, who is auditioning the dancers, Ricky, on whose show Paula, Donna and Jenna are hired to dance as three junk foods, and Mark, the crazy director of the dreadful production of Richard III, which he plays so far over the top, he is half way down the other side.
All of this takes place on a set with a New York skyline at the rear, and a number of mobile pieces that come on and offstage, and turn to reveal different locations. The set design and scenic art is all the work of Brian Budgen, and is well illuminated by lighting designer, Jason Groves.