Good People (play)

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Good People
Good-People-Playbill-02-11.jpg
Opening Night Playbill
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire
Characters Mike
Margie
Dottie
Jean
Stevie
Kate
Date premiered February 8, 2011 (2011-02-08)
Place premiered Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, Broadway
Original language English
Subject Middle class life in a South Boston neighborhood
Setting South Boston
Official site

Good People is a 2011 play by David Lindsay-Abaire. The world premiere was staged by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City.[1] The production was nominated for two 2011 Tony AwardsBest Play and Best Leading Actress in a Play (Frances McDormand), with the latter winning.[2]

Synopsis[edit]

Margie Walsh, a lifelong resident of Southie, a blue collar Boston neighborhood,[3] 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",[4] 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.[4] 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 (though not without implying that Mike is cheating on Kate).

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.

Productions[edit]

Broadway (2011)[edit]

The show began previews on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on February 8, 2011, and opened on March 3.[5][6][7] Good People was directed by Daniel J. Sullivan and starred Frances McDormand as Margie and Tate Donovan as Mike.[5][6][8] Other cast members were Becky Ann Baker as Jean, Patrick Carroll as Stevie, Estelle Parsons as Dottie, and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Kate.[6][9][10] The creative team included sets by John Lee Beatty, costumes by David Zinn, and lighting by Pat Collins.[8][9] The limited engagement run concluded on May 29, 2011, after 101 regular performances and 27 previews.[1][11]

Los Angeles (2012)[edit]

In July 2011, it was announced that the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, California, will produce Good People in April 2012. Cast list below.

Saint Louis (2013)[edit]

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis offered a Mainstage production of the play under the direction of Seth Gordon Jan. 2-27, 2013.

Frankfurt Germany (2013)[edit]

The English Theatre Frankfurt from May 10 until 6 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.

London (2014)[edit]

Imelda Staunton stars in a production at the Hampstead Theatre in London, which previewed from February 27, opened on March 5 and closes on April 5.[12] This production then transferred to the West End's Noël Coward Theatre where it was produced by Hampstead Theatre, Old Vic Productions in association with James Quaife Productions .[13]

Houston (2014)[edit]

The Alley Theatre presents "Good People" on the Neuhaus Stage from May 30 through June 29, 2014. Artistic Director: Gregory Boyd; Managing Director: Dean R. Gladden. Cast list below.

Rochester, NY (2014)[edit]

Geva Theatre Center presents Good People as part of the 2014-2015 ESL Wilson Mainstage Season from October 21 - November 16. Artistic Director: Mark Cuddy; Executive Director, Tom Parrish. Cast list below.

Original Broadway cast[edit]

Geffen Playhouse (Los Angeles) cast[edit]

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis cast[edit]

  • 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"

The Alley Theatre of Houston cast[edit]

  • Elizabeth Bunch as "Margaret"
  • Dylan Godwin as "Stevie"
  • Jennifer Harmon as "Dottie"
  • Melissa Pritchett as "Jean"
  • Chris Hutchison as "Mike"
  • Krystel Lucas as "Kate"

Geva Theatre Center cast[edit]

  • Constance Macy as "Margaret"
  • Nick Abeel as "Stevie"
  • Peggy Cosgrave as "Dottie"
  • Dee Pelletier as "Jean"
  • Sean Patrick Reilly as "Mike"
  • Nicole Lewis as "Kate"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Outcome
2011 Drama League Awards[14]
Distinguished Production of a Play Nominated
Distinguished Performance: Frances McDormand Nominated
Distinguished Performance: Estelle Parsons Nominated
2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards[15]
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[16]
Outstanding Play Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Play: Frances McDormand Won
2011 Tony Awards[17]
Best Play Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Frances McDormand Won
2011 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards[18]
Best Play of the 2010-2011 Season Won

Response[edit]

Good People received mostly positive reviews, with Ben Brantley in The New York Times writing:[19]

"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."[20] However, Talkin' Broadway's Matthew Murray called the show "no better energizing this inert premise" and called the lead roles "miscast".[21]

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."[19]

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."[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth (March 22, 2011). "Broadway's Good People Gets Final Extension, Shifting Dates of Master Class". Playbill. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Listing, ibdb.com
  3. ^ "The Play". Good People official website
  4. ^ a b "Down-and-Outs Are Center Stage Once Again", nytimes.com, March 12, 2011
  5. ^ a b "World Premieres by David Lindsay-Abaire, Alfred Uhry & Beau Willimon Join The Pitmen Painters at MTC" broadway.com, May 11, 2010
  6. ^ a b c Carucci, John. "Frances McDormand Returns To Broadway For Good People". Huffington Post, June 7, 2010
  7. ^ "Good People, Play of Aspiration and Escape, With Frances McDormand and Tate Donovan, Begins on Broadway". playbill.com, February 8, 2011
  8. ^ a b Propst, Andy. "Tate Donovan to Join Frances McDormand in David Lindsay-Abaire's Good People on Broadway". Theater Mania. July 14, 2010
  9. ^ a b Jones, Kenenth. "Becky Ann Baker, Estelle Parsons, Renée Goldsberry Join World-Premiere Cast of Broadway's Good People" playbill.com, November 9, 2010
  10. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth."'Good People' Extends Broadway Run" playbill.com, February 22, 2011
  11. ^ Jones, Kenneth (May 29, 2011). "Good People, a Two-Time Tony Nominee, Ends Limited Run on Broadway". Playbill.com. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  12. ^ http://www.whatsonstage.com/london-theatre/news/11-2013/imelda-staunton-and-emilia-fox-lead-new-plays-at-h_32657.html
  13. ^ http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/news/latest-news/article/item224871/good-people-gets-west-end-transfer/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew."Outer Critics Circle Nominees Include 'Sister Act', 'Anything Goes', 'Book of Mormon' " playbill.com, April 26, 2011
  16. ^ http://www.ibdb.com/awardproduction.asp?id=488093
  17. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Gans, Andrew."2011 Tony Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Earns 14 Nominations" playbill.com, May 3, 2011
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ a b "Good People", stagegrade.com, accessed 4 March 2011.
  20. ^ Stasio, Marilyn. "Good People - Broadway Reviews". Variety. March 3, 2011
  21. ^ Murray, Matthew (March 3, 2011). "Good People". Talkin' Broadway. Retrieved March 22, 2011
  22. ^ Teachout, Terry (March 4, 2011). "Lindsay-Abaire's Southie Class Portrait". The Wall Street Journal. 

External links[edit]