Thursday, 4 June 2015

Therry Dramatic Society presents The Goodbye Girl

The Goodbye Girl, presented by Therry Dramatic Society
The Arts Theatre, Adelaide
June 4 to June 13, 2015
reviewed June 3, 2015 (preview performance)

Every so often, an amateur company will produce a brilliant and phenomenal production which leaves one speechless, only
really being able to find one word in their vocabulary to describe the show, that word being, "wow!". The Therry Dramatic
Society is one such company, with the presentation of their latest musical production, The Goodbye Girl, directed by the
very obviously experienced Pam O'Grady. This hugely entertaining and basically faultless production by Therry has
everything a great show should have: a fabulous set, a skilled orchestra, nice dance numbers, an efficient ensemble, and
of course, a sensational team of principal actors.
The Goodbye Girl, written by Neil Simon, is the hilarious musical romantic comedy based on the 1977 film of the same name.
Set in New York, it follows the story of twelve year old daughter, Lucy, and her mother, Paula McFadden, a mid-30s woman
who has been hurt by one too many guys. Much to her surprise, Paula's last boyfriend left without notice, and sublet her
apartment to his friend, Elliot Garfield. When Elliot turns up at her house, the events which follow are very humorous.
Paula must learn to live peacefully with Elliot, and both must work out how. Gradually, though, both become more
comfortable with each other, and Paula must decide how she really feels about Elliot. The Goodbye Girl has music by Marvin
Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), and lyrics by David Zippel. With music by Hamlisch, it is no surprise that this musical is one
singular sensation. What is surprising, though, is that this musical only remained on Broadway for just six months;
Therry's production leaves me wondering just why this musical had such a short run.
O'Grady has produced one of the finest productions Adelaide is likely to see this year. She has made so very many fine
choices, to produce a sensational show. Each principal actor is brilliant and are so very well suited to their characters.
Of significance importance is the very strict American accent each actor employs. Each principal actor holds their
accent throughout the entire show, which can be a very difficult task to do. A production set in New York, without the
accents would just not work well, so it is highly appropriate that the actors have obviously practiced their accent until
it is correct and perfect. 
Playing the principal role of Paula, Fiona DeLaine's experience in acting and singing is very evident. DeLaine captures
the very essence of the initial emotional pain and suffering which Paula has to endure, but then the positive emotions she
begins to feel as she starts to become comfortable with Elliot. DeLaine portrays this change very well, and the change is
very obvious. Paula's difficult emotions in the first act of the play become very evident in Paula's heartbreaking and
poignant solo song, 'How Can I Win'. DeLaine sings this song absolutely beautifully, capturing the real essence of Paula's
emotions. So much so, it is safe to say that my eyes were not dry after the song. Additionally, her ability to always be 'A
Beat Behind' in the song of the same name, is to be most commended; I doubt it would be an easy task to be that beat
behind, but, no surprises, she nailed it! This song is intended to demonstrate Paula's lack of ability, and deteriorating
physical strength, and DeLaine captures this very well and successfully.
As Paula's twelve year old daughter, Lucy, Henny Walters is sublime. Throughout the musical, Lucy is often faced with many
intense emotions, and so playing a character of this sort would not be an easy task for any young actress to undertake.
However, Walters portrays Lucy perfectly and without fault. It is obvious that Walters has a deep understanding of her
character and how Lucy would feel in certain situations. Walter's very gradual change of body language from highly
negative and closed off, to slowly becoming very positive, in the song I Can Play the Part, is just wonderful. I knew
exactly how Lucy was feeling, just by Walter's portrayal. Walter's timing with this change is perfect. O'Grady must be
commended for this very obvious choice of direction throughout the song, it is suitable and very fitting.
In perhaps the most significant role of the musical, Lindsay Prodea is brilliant and perfectly suited to the egotistical
actor, Elliot Garfield. The surname Garfield seems fitting, because although there are no orange and black stripes in this
production, Prodea still certainly earns his stripes in theatre, with this production! Prodea's ability to command the
stage, particularly in the song 'My Rules', is wonderful. Of particular significance is his delivery of the solo song 'I Can
Play this Part'. His singing and slow movements during this song is just beautiful, and again, draws tears from me. (bring
your tissues, lots of tears to be had). In the words of Paula, "what a guy" Prodea is!
As the cheeky landowner, Mrs Crosby, Megan Humphries, as usual, is brilliant! Humphries singing voice is very strong, and
an appropriate fit for Crosby. Humphries presents Mrs Crosby in a very humorous way, and that cheeky laugh is so funny.
Mrs Crosby's fun and hilarious nature becomes very evident through Humphries characterisation.  Similarly, Humphries' comic timing and delivery of lines is perfect. 
Special mention must be made to Paul Rodda, who plays not one, not two, but THREE different cameos (not all at the same
time though - that WOULD be talent). Rodda certainly is talented, though. His change in characters is great, and each
different character he plays, he does so very well. His Russian director character is hilarious, Rodda manages to capture
the Russian accent perfectly!!
These such actors, as well as the ensemble, also double as stagehands, assisting with the changing of sets. The set
consists of one dark grey door, with a light grey door frame, and two small walls in an L shape, which are painted light
grey, with some dark grey bricks painted onto it, in an organised manner. These three pieces were on wheels, allowing for
the pieces to be moved around to change the setting, which was such a clever and effective choice. The actors  are fully
costumed and in full view of the audience, when they change the set, which provides a whole new and interesting aspect to
the spectacle of the production. It is something I have not seen implemented by for such a long time, but it is one which
is so effective. It allows for very smooth and quick scene changes, increasing the brilliance of this show. What is also
brilliant is the very large and stunning painted backdrop of New York, which takes up the whole back wall of the stage.
Different lighting tones are also put onto this backdrop throughout the musical, to indicate the time of day, which works
very well. What also works well is that backdrop is seen from the moment the audience walk into the theatre, reminding
them immediately of the setting of the musical.
Although there are not many ensemble numbers in this production, the ensemble dance numbers that are in it are fabulous.
The choreography by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti is sensational, and very precise. Each dancer remains in time with each
other, and are full of energy. 
Lastly, no great musical would be complete without the hard work and effort of the orchestra. The orchestra in this show,
led by Mark DeLaine, is just fantastic, never being a beat behind. The volume of the orchestra is appropriate, although on
preview night, it seemed that the orchestra drowned out the singers, often resulting in difficulty in hearing some of the
lyrics. Nonetheless, I would think that this problem will be rectified for the future performances.
Therefore, it should appear obvious that the good news is that this production is a real hit and absolute sensation. Now
there is no need to travel to New York to see a show of professional quality, because we can see one right here in the
heart of Adelaide. But, the bad news is that the season is very strictly limited and only very short. This is such a
shame, because a show of this professional quality deserves to have a much longer season. So, don't miss out on this incredible production; do yourself a favour, and witness a show that is just simply "too good to be bad".

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