Neil Simon’s Goodbye Girl is a hit for Chico Theater Company
What fun the Chico Theater Company is having with the Neil Simon hit, The Goodbye Girl!
This is the story of 35 year-old single mom Paula (Jodi Rives) and her precocious daughter Lucy (Samantha Francis) in their quest to stop having to say goodbye, the word that necessarily concludes each of Paula’s failed love affairs.
Rives’ Paula is stinkingly cute and vivacious, which allows you to look beyond a voice that is strong but fails to hit all of the right notes. Her comic timing, particularly in musical numbers like “A Beat Behind,” is exceptional and will ring true for anyone who has ever struggled during an aerobic class workout.
Samantha Francis, on the other hand, finds her strength with her voice, which is powerful, clear and dead-on.
Mario Magana plays the other lead, Elliot, an actor who finds himself with the lease to Paula’s apartment, thanks to Paula’s fly-by-night ex-boyfriend. Their decision to share the apartment among the three of them provides the friction that keeps the play moving, and in fact when Paula and Elliot find themselves in love (oops, a spoiler, but you knew that would happen), the pace slows and sputters a bit. The same happens during some of the dance scenes, which probably ask more of the dancers than they can give.
Magana is enjoyable in his character’s role as Richard III, which he is directed to play as a “man playing a woman playing a man,” at the bequest of Jack Reynolds’ character, an exaggerated, effeminate New York director. The interplay between Reynolds and Magana is great fun.
Judi Souza, playing interloping landlady Mrs. Crosby, is another shining star, whose nosy but sweet character so entertained, I wanted to see more of her.
The set design, by director William Schneider and Purple Dot Design, is amazing. The doors connecting the center kitchen with the two adjoining bedrooms are intriguingly constructed, allowing for the realism needed during particular door-slamming scenes.