Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 22, 2008

The Goodbye Girl

Exit 7 Players, Ludlow
through October 4, 2008
By Donna Bailey-Thompson

Say a huge hello to "The Goodbye Girl" a musical, that hits all the right notes – story, director, choreographer, cast – another outstanding Exit 7 Players production.

From the rousing opening number filled with expectations about moving from Manhattan to Los Angeles, the mood plummets when single mother Paula (Lea Oppedisano) discovers that Tony, her actor boyfriend, has dumped her in favor of a role in Spain. Her daughter Lucy, a precocious 10 (Emma Henderson), stoically accepts this latest downer. Paula vows, "No more!" and is determined to resume her career as a dancer. At a rehearsal studio with dancers who know the routine, she demonstrates she’s not only out of shape but rusty. The intricate number, "A Beat Behind," is cleverly choreographed by Todd Santa Maria.

In the middle of the night, a deadbolted door prevents a stranger, with a key, from entering the apartment. Elliot (Nate Luscombe) has bought out Tony’s lease. Paula dictates the house rules. Elliot, armed with the lease, pulls rank and imposes new rules. Wide-eyed Lucy misses nothing. Elliot is an actor who has been lured from Chicago to star in "Richard III" at a theater so far off Broadway, it’s off the sanity map. Its director, Mark (Jim Coulter) wants Elliot to play the king like a queen who wants to be king. That sequence brings down the house. Still to come is Act II.

Originally a movie written by Neil Simon, based upon the life of his then-wife Marsha Mason who played the title role, the musical version opened on Broadway in 1993. Simon’s craftsmanship endures but, thankfully, the wisecracks are minimized. The voices of Paula, Elliot, Lucy, and the landlady Mrs. Crosby (Christine Kasparian) have the Broadway-like zing of professional training.

This "Goodbye Girl" is edgy, at times hysterically outrageous, yet tender and sweet, especially the individual scenes Paula and Elliot have with Lucy: Emma Henderson is a little girl with big talent and the poise of an adult pro. She listens. This is a polished production – nine musicians, a stylish set design, and a crew with no wasted motions. Director Dan Derby, take a bow.