Theatre Information

Cadence Theatre Company Good People

By • Oct 28th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Good People
Cadence Theatre Company: (Info) (Web)
Virginia Rep Center – Theatre Gym, Richmond, VA
Through November 9th
2:20, with one intermission
$28/$21 Virginia Rep Subscribers
Reviewed October 24th, 2013

Today’s review seems a little in my head like an episode of Sesame Street — it is brought to you by adjectives!

First, as many of you know, in Richmond just passed its first birthday. I am starting my “terrible twos” with a show entitled Good People that has a great cast and an impressive set.

Cadence Theatre Company in partnership with Virginia Repertory Theatre is presenting the Richmond première of Good People by Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. Good People premiered on Broadway, and was awarded the 2011 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, The Horton Foote Prize, The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and two Tony nominations.

Despite all of these credentials, I have to say the script and plot are very basic. This is not necessarily groundbreaking or cutting edge material. It is “nice, simple, real life entertainment.” But there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, we fall into this presumptuous sense that every show has to be classic to be noteworthy. It is actually this ordinary touch with the story of real life people with real life problems that makes Good People extraordinary.

In Good People, the main character, Margie Walsh loses her job at a dollar store in her native South Boston harbor projects. As a single parent, she has a severely mentally challenged daughter to support. At the urging of one of her friends, she reaches out to an old flame from her teenage years to help her out. Mike is now a well-to-do doctor living with his wife and daughter in Chestnut Hill. At first, Margie goes to ask Mike for a job; but later she decides to go “Maury Povitch” on him, and tries to convince him that her daughter is his (you ARE the father…).

Dawn A. Westbrook starts out almost cartoonish as Margie. Her brash personality and distinct Boston accent reminded me of an old Saturday Night Live Rachel Dratch character. It was this over the top delivery, however, that make Westbrook’s performance all the more effective. As the play progresses, she becomes immersed in the role, taking the audience with her when “things become real.” Her portrayal is so intense and multidimensional that you find yourself deeply empathizing with Margie and the cards life has dealt her.

Alexander Sapp (Stevie), Kelly Kennedy (Dottie) and Jacqueline O’Connor (Jean) are equally as comical and over the top, yet lifelike as Margie’s friends. Whether sitting around the kitchen table, or around a Bingo table, you feel you know these people — or wish you did. Kennedy’s character stands out in the same way Peg Bundy will forever stand out from “Married With Children.” All these blue-collar characters speak their minds, and in a very colorful way.

Jay O. Millman turns in a strong performance as Mike, the old boyfriend turned rich doctor. On the surface, he is a real mensch (which for those of you who don’t know, is a real nice guy — he’s good people) but below the surface lie some rather ugly and narcissistic thoughts. I found myself alternating between liking and hating Mike, much to the credit of Millman. My only complaint was with his accent. While it worked to have the other characters play such strong Boston accents, I had a hard time with the fact that most of the time Millman spoke with almost no accent, but at other times, his accent was even more Bostonian than the others. I personally would have preferred either a more upper class phony Boston accent (ala Charles Emerson Winchester from “M*A*S*H”) or no accent at all (or he could totally slip back into it when upset — but that would have required using it in full sentences, not just in isolated words). At times it became a bit distracting from his otherwise strong performance.

There just isn’t enough I can say about Katrinah Carol Lewis as Mike’s long-suffering (and notably black) wife, Kate. Lewis lights up the stage with her bubbly, overly happy persona. The sugary sweetness makes her periodic zingers even more poignant, especially when her smiles fade and each carefully chosen and enunciated word packs a deliberate punch.

Director Anna Johnson keeps the action comfortable and down to earth. The cast utilizes the small space well, keeping the action constantly moving with great nervous energy. Brian Barker’s scenic design is truly noteworthy for its elaborate and ambitious nature. Each of the four scenes is authentic and decorative, yet the small running crew were able to move the pieces around and pack them away at a remarkably quick pace. The only quirky moments came in the first scene, where the smallness of the stage seemed to restrain Westbrook from realistically expressing anger and thus half heartedly pushed a chair or kicked a trash bag.

Emily Clarkson’s light and McLean Jesse’s costumes effectively and appropriately enhanced the production.

I must give one last disclaimer/shout out. I, who never win anything, happened to attend on Ladies’ Night Out, and won a drawing for a lovely gift bag donated by Jeanie Rule from Elements of Carytown (with an assortment entitled “Margie’s Lace Curtain Dream Bath” of Bath Salts, and shower gels and body lotions). The irony and the timing were perfect. Today I officially became a foster parent and tomorrow is my mother’s birthday (and my Jewish mother is VERY hard to shop for — because she doesn’t NEED anything, and doesn’t want me spending money on her so shhh…guess what she’s getting for her birthday from me and my foster son?)

Perhaps this is a good sign, that I am going to have good luck in year number two at Perhaps good things can happen to good people (or at least I hope I am one). Time will tell; but time is running out for you to go see Good People. The great performances and strong talent guarantee a great night of theater.

Photo Gallery

Alexander Sapp and Dawn A. Westbrook Jacqueline O'Connor, Dawn A. Westbrook and Kelly Kennedy
Alexander Sapp and Dawn A. Westbrook
Jacqueline O’Connor, Dawn A. Westbrook and Kelly Kennedy
Jay O. Millman and Dawn A. Westbrook Dawn A. Westbrook and Katrinah Carol Lewis
Jay O. Millman and Dawn A. Westbrook
Dawn A. Westbrook and Katrinah Carol Lewis
Dawn A. Westbrook and Katrinah Carol Lewis
Dawn A. Westbrook and Katrinah Carol Lewis

Photos provided by Cadence Theatre Company

The Cast

  • Stevie: Alexander Sapp
  • Margaret (Margie): Dawn A. Westbrook
  • Jean: Jacqueline O’Connor
  • Dottie: Kelly Kennedy.
  • Mike: Jay O. Millman
  • Kate: Katrinah Carol Lewis
  • Voice of Priest: Alan Sader
  • Voice of Allie: Hazel McGrath Senechal

The Crew

  • Director: Anna Johnson
  • Stage Manager: Sarah Stepahin
  • Assistant Stage Manager/ Running Crew: Connor Scully
  • Lighting Design: Emily Clarkson
  • Costume Design, Propos Design and Production Manager: McLean Jesse
  • Sound Design: Jacob Blizard, Collin Pastore and Jesse Senechal
  • Scenic Design: Brian Barker
  • Scenic Painting: Terrie Powers
  • Dialect Coach: Janet Rodgers
  • Composer: Jacob Blizzard
  • Master Carpenter: Joel Ernst
  • Sound Board Operator: Taniqua Jones
  • Technical Director: Matthew Landwehr
  • 2013-14 Administrative and Marketing Intern: Connor Murphy
  • Running Crew: Alex Shedd

Disclaimer: Cadence Theatre Company provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

This article can be linked to as: