Good People (play)
Opening Night Playbill
|Written by||David Lindsay-Abaire|
|Date premiered||February 8, 2011|
|Place premiered||Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, Broadway|
|Subject||Middle class life in a South Boston neighborhood|
Good People is a 2011 play by David Lindsay-Abaire. The world premiere was staged by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City. The production was nominated for two 2011 Tony Awards – Best Play and Best Leading Actress in a Play (Frances McDormand), with the latter winning.
Margie Walsh, a lifelong resident of Southie, a blue collar Boston neighborhood, is fired for tardiness from her job as a cashier at a dollar store. A single mother, and knowing that she and her handicapped adult daughter Joyce, supposedly born premature before Margie's husband left her, "are only a single paycheck away from desperate straits", Margie goes to her old High School boyfriend Mike - now a doctor, but formerly from her neighborhood - looking for employment. After a verbal game of chicken, Margie shames Mike into inviting her (however reluctantly) to his birthday party in Chestnut Hill. Margie is looking forward to the party because she views it as a chance to meet potential employers. Her friends, Dottie and Jean, encourage her to tell Mike that her daughter Joyce was not born premature but is his, in hopes of getting support from Mike. When Mike calls to tell her that the party has been cancelled, Margie assumes that he is disinviting her because he's embarrassed to have her mix with his bourgeois doctor friends. She decides to go to the house anyway, with the intent of crashing the party.
At the beginning of Act II, Margie arrives at Mike's house only to discover that the party has, in fact, been cancelled. Mike's elegant young African American wife Kate at first mistakes Margie for a caterer coming to pick up left-over party paraphernalia. Once the misunderstanding is resolved, Kate invites Margie to stay and reminisce about Mike's past (though Mike is clearly less than enthusiastic at the prospect). A discussion begins, in which Mike tells Margie that her current financial problems are her own fault for not trying hard enough, and Margie tries to explain to Mike that he had lucky breaks that most people from Southie didn't. She talks about the time Mike was beating an African American boy and Mike's father intervened to prevent him from possibly killing the boy and ending up in prison. Then she goes further and tells him that he is Joyce's father, and that she never told the truth about the paternity because she wanted Mike to be able to "get out". Mike says that it wouldn't have made a difference if she'd told him, as he had been planning to leave her anyway. Kate, though she had been taking Margie's side, says to Margie that if Joyce was indeed Mike's, it was selfish of her to hide that fact and not do everything she could for her child. Mike and Kate bully Margie into saying that Joyce isn't Mike's, and she leaves, shamed.
Later, Margie's landlady receives an envelope marked as having Margie's rent inside - thinking it has been sent from Mike, Margie intends to return it to him. At bingo, though, it is revealed that the envelope is from Stevie, her former boss at the dollar store - upon learning this, Margie accepts the money as an indefinite "loan" and Stevie agrees to help her find a new job. In a final twist to the plot, one of Margie's friends asserts in front of her that "everybody knows" that Joyce is indeed Mike's baby.
The show began previews on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on February 8, 2011, and opened on March 3. Good People was directed by Daniel J. Sullivan and starred Frances McDormand as Margie and Tate Donovan as Mike. Other cast members were Becky Ann Baker as Jean, Patrick Carroll as Stevie, Estelle Parsons as Dottie, and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Kate. The creative team included sets by John Lee Beatty, costumes by David Zinn, and lighting by Pat Collins. The limited engagement run concluded on May 29, 2011, after 101 regular performances and 27 previews.
Los Angeles (2012)
Saint Louis (2013)
Frankfurt Germany (2013)
The English Theatre Frankfurt from May 10th until 6th July 2013. Directed by Michael Howcroft, Designed by Morgan Large and Lit by Richard G Jones. Cast: Janet Greaves as Margie Walsh, Kevin McGowan as Mike, Louise Yates as Jean, Will Close as Stevie, Fiz Marcus as Dottie and Gracy Goldman as Kate.
Original Broadway cast
- Frances McDormand as "Margie"
- Tate Donovan as "Mike"
- Estelle Parsons as "Dottie"
- Becky Ann Baker as "Jean"
- Patrick Carroll as "Stevie"
- Renée Elise Goldsberry as "Kate"
- Emma Rayne Lyle as "Ali" (vo)
Geffen Playhouse (Los Angeles) cast
- Jane Kaczmarek as "Margie"
- Jon Tenney as "Mike"
- Marylouise Burke as "Dottie"
- Sara Botsford as "Jean"
- Brad Fleischer as "Stevie"
- Cherise Boothe as "Kate"
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis cast
- Denise Cormier as "Margie"
- Ward Duffy as "Mike"
- Andrea Gallo as "Dottie"
- Elizabeth Ann Townsend as "Jean"
- Aaron Orion Baker as "Stevie"
- Zoey Martinson as "Kate"
Awards and nominations
|2011 Drama League Awards|
|Distinguished Production of a Play||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance: Frances McDormand||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance: Estelle Parsons||Nominated|
|2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards|
|Outstanding New Broadway Play||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Play: Daniel Sullivan||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Play: Frances McDormand||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Estelle Parsons||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Renée Elise Goldsberry||Nominated|
|2011 Drama Desk Awards|
|Outstanding Actress in a Play: Frances McDormand||Won|
|2011 Tony Awards|
|Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Frances McDormand||Won|
|2011 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards|
|Best Play of the 2010-2011 Season||Won|
- "Embodied with an ideal balance of expertise and empathy by Frances McDormand, Margie (as her friends call her, using a hard "g") is the not-quite heroine of David Lindsay-Abaire’s "Good People," the very fine new play that opened Thursday night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater. And discovering how Margie operates — and where she’s coming from — is one of the more subtly surprising treats of this theater season."
The Variety Magazine review noted, "If 'Good People' isn't a hit for Manhattan Theater Club, there is no justice in the land . . . McDormand has an uncanny affinity for women who work hard to make a living and suck it up without complaint." However, Talkin' Broadway's Matthew Murray called the show "no better energizing this inert premise" and called the lead roles "miscast".
Jason Clark, in Slant Magazine, stated, "Only David Lindsay-Abaire could write scenes of downtrodden Southie ... As sensitive a modern playwright as can be heard these days, the setups for the scenes in his grandly entertaining Good People—his best work to date—sound like doomed-to-fail, ivory tower-slanted scenarios: a minimum-wage employee being fired for dismal work, an uneasy meeting of old flames (one of which has a spouse of a different race), the needs of a child with a major disability ... Instead of holding up the play's lead character Margaret (Frances McDormand) as a victim of hard luck, the playwright shrewdly uses her as an example of how choices can make or break us, and the smallest twists of fate determine our path."
In a negative review, Terry Teachout (The Wall Street Journal), wrote, "I doubt it's a coincidence that they are exactly the kinds of people who fit into the familiar sociological narrative that permeates every page of this play. In Mr. Lindsay-Abaire's America, success is purely a matter of luck, and virtue inheres solely in those who are luckless. So what if Mikey worked hard? Why should anybody deserve any credit for working hard? Hence the crude deck-stacking built into the script of Good People, in which Mikey is the callous villain who forgot where he came from and Margie the plucky Southie gal who may be the least little bit racist (though she never says anything nasty to Mikey's wife—that would be going too far!) but is otherwise a perfect heroine-victim."
- Jones, Kenneth (March 22, 2011). "Broadway's Good People Gets Final Extension, Shifting Dates of Master Class". Playbill. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Listing, ibdb.com
- "The Play". Good People official website
- "Down-and-Outs Are Center Stage Once Again", nytimes.com, March 12, 2011
- "World Premieres by David Lindsay-Abaire, Alfred Uhry & Beau Willimon Join The Pitmen Painters at MTC" broadway.com, May 11, 2010
- Carucci, John. "Frances McDormand Returns To Broadway For Good People". Huffington Post, June 7, 2010
- "Good People, Play of Aspiration and Escape, With Frances McDormand and Tate Donovan, Begins on Broadway". playbill.com, February 8, 2011
- Propst, Andy. "Tate Donovan to Join Frances McDormand in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People on Broadway". Theater Mania. July 14, 2010
- Jones, Kenenth. "Becky Ann Baker, Estelle Parsons, Renée Goldsberry Join World-Premiere Cast of Broadway's Good People" playbill.com, November 9, 2010
- Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth."'Good People' Extends Broadway Run" playbill.com, February 22, 2011
- Jones, Kenneth (May 29, 2011). "Good People, a Two-Time Tony Nominee, Ends Limited Run on Broadway". Playbill.com. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- Gans, Andrew (April 25, 2011). "Book of Mormon, Priscilla, Sister Act, War Horse, Good People and More Are Drama League Nominees". Playbill.com. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- Gans, Andrew."Outer Critics Circle Nominees Include 'Sister Act', 'Anything Goes', 'Book of Mormon' " playbill.com, April 26, 2011
- Jones, Kenneth and Gans, Andrew."2011 Tony Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Earns 14 Nominations" playbill.com, May 3, 2011
- Gans, Andrew (May 9, 2011). "Good People, Book of Mormon, Jerusalem Named Winners of New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards". Playbill.com. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- "Good People", stagegrade.com, accessed 4 March 2011.
- Stasio, Marilyn. "Good People - Broadway Reviews". Variety. March 3, 2011
- Murray, Matthew (March 3, 2011). "Good People". Talkin' Broadway. Retrieved March 22, 2011
- Teachout, Terry (March 4, 2011). "Lindsay-Abaire's Southie Class Portrait". The Wall Street Journal.