Theatre Review: The Goodbye Girl

The seventies saw the film ‘The Goodbye Girl’ by Neil Simon. The nineties saw the musical version hit the stage. Now, Therry presents this toe-tapper.


L to R: Lindsay Prodea, Henny Walters, Fiona DeLaine

L to R: Lindsay Prodea, Henny Walters, Fiona DeLaine

Presented by Therry Dramatic Society
Reviewed 4 June 2015

There’s a lyric from Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Merrily We Roll Along, which states “It’s a hit, it’s a hit, it’s a palpable hit!” This line sums up Therry Dramatic Society’s latest production, The Goodbye Girl, perfectly. It’s not only a hit, but a delightful, joyous fun ride that just zings and sings along.

The seventies saw Neil Simon’s romantic comedy of an ex-dancer and her penchant for falling for the wrong kind of man (Actors!) come to the big screen in the shape of The Goodbye Girl. The nineties saw Simon turn it – with the help of theatrical and boppy music by Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), and the extremely witty lyrics of David Zippel (City Of Angels) – into a musical with heart, starring Bernadette Peters as the hapless ex-dancer, Paula and Martin Short as sub-leaser, actor Elliot Garfield.

The noughties has Adelaide, finally, seeing this great musical thanks to Therry’s wonderful toe-tapping version.

Director Pam O’Grady has obviously poured all of her immense knowledge of theatre and stage musicals into this production. She has produced something that is great fun to watch and has lots of heart. Brian Budgen’s simple, clean, highly effective set design (just love those trees and the New York skyline) is one of the major pieces of icing on the cake; and the ensemble must be congratulated on their seemingly effortless scene changes. Jason Groves lighting design is nicely unobtrusive and with one of the loveliest night time lighting effects ever.

Mark DeLaine’s musical direction of both the orchestra and vocalists is tight and powerful; with Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti’s choreography showy, well executed by the dancers and a pleasure to watch.

It’s a battle royal between Megan Humphries as nosey Jewish landlady, Mrs Crosby and Paul Rodda as the ever-so eccentric theatre director (and two other zany characters), as to who will steal the show first. They are both hilarious, but Humphries has a definite edge with her mighty vocals.

Isabelle Oppedisano and Issy Darwent are delightful as school friends Cynthia and Melanie. But it is young Henny Walters as Paula’s daughter, Lucy, who is the find of the century. This thirteen year old is already a mighty triple threat and is absolutely wonderful in this show – every move and gesture by her has a purpose, with her dance moves and vocals being sure and sharp.

Adelaide certainly has its own Bernadette Peters in Fiona DeLaine as Paula. Delaine is adept in the dance department – it’s not easy to be A Beat Behind when you can dance well – and has the voice and acting skills to pull off all her numbers. Her version of the beautiful How Can I Win? is wondrously poignant and emotionally moving.

As Elliot, Lindsay Prodea has come of age. Always good in any part he undertakes, Prodea has found THE role for him. His straight-faced delivery and comic timing are spot on and he shows a maturity in his emotional strength and singing voice. At one point in Act Two, he sings I Know I Can Play This Part – and he can! On opening night, he almost stopped the show with his very heart-felt version.

With everything this production has going for it – including the funniest version of Richard III ever – this is one girl you don’t want to say goodbye to.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Venue: Arts Theatre  53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 4 – 13 June 2015
Duration: 3 hours including interval
Tickets: $15.00 – $32.00
Bookings: From Monday, 1 June: 8410 5515 (12 noon to 7 pm Mondays to Saturdays) (30c per ticket fee applies)  (booking and services fees apply)


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