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Review of The Goodbye Girl Upstairs At The Gatehouse

The Goodbye Girl posterIn a New York apartment, 1977, Paula, a slightly-past-it dancer, and her daughter Lucy have just been abandoned by the love rat Tony who has taken off to shoot a film leaving them penniless. Oh, and he has sublet their apartment to Elliot, an actor newly arrived in The Big Apple to star in a dubiously directed version of Richard III. The scenario is the perfect set up for a musical comedy which has an infinitely human lesson at the heart of its romantic story. As Paula and Elliot try to forge a co-existence they find that in the struggle of finding their own purpose and vocation, they are able to free themselves to find a true companion without the dependence that has heretofore limited their experience of love.

With classic music by Hamlisch and touchingly funny lyrics by David Zippel this show was always going to be a winner but I have to commend the direction and performances all round. Warm, risqué in all the right places and with superbly executed choreography and thrilling live music, this is a show that would leave many permanent West End fixtures eating dust.

The beautifully portrayed commentary foregrounds the difficulty of finding love when you’re stubbornly dead set against it. Rebecca Bainbridge as Paula tells the perfect story of a girl who meets a boy, not realising that he’s the one until the very end. Her frustrations with actors and not being in control of her life are immediately recognisable to the audience who get behind her, willing her for every second to wake up and smell the coffee. Equally Paul Keating as Elliot, the hapless actor who has landed in an unfortunate roll is the perfect hero, allowing Paula to find herself, accepting her for who she is, and seeing the value of love above all else. Olivia Hallett is outstanding as Lucy; at just thirteen years of age she delivers a faultless performance equal to that of her more experienced cast mates and clearly enjoys it all; her acid tongue has perfect comic timing.

If you want a heart warmer this cold February this has got to be the play to see. Although this production would be more than comfortable on a West End stage, the smaller venue above a pub in Highgate – Upstairs At The Gatehouse, makes you feel like a very special guest at an intimate performance; that is certainly the way the cast make you feel and you will absolutely leave with a huge smile in your heart.

5 Star Rating

Review by Annemarie Hiscott

The Goodbye Girl tells the story of Paula, an unemployed dancer who is reluctantly forced to co-habit in the same apartment with Elliot, a struggling Off-Broadway actor. Despite their differences, the pair – along with Paula’s precocious young daughter, Lucy – find a way to live together, and eventually, they fall in love. The original Broadway production was nominated for 5 Tony and 3 Drama Desk Awards and starred Bernadette Peters and Martin Short. This is the first London revival since 1997 and looks to reinvent this timeless classic for a new generation while keeping alive the very best of Simon, Hamlisch and Zippel’s musical theatre legacy.

Rebecca Bainbridge (Mamma Mia!, Cabaret) will star as Paula and Paul Keating (The Wizard of Oz, Tick Tick Boom, Little Shop of Horrors) will star as Elliot. The role of Lucy will be shared by Shannon Beach and Olivia Hallett (Hairspray, Dear Edwina, The Secret Garden).

Casting includes: Emily Dunn (Mamma Mia), Rebecca Gilliland (Natalie Weiss in the West End), Alex Green (The Dreaming), Tim Phelps (Into The Woods), Denise Pitter (Guys And Dolls – West End), Emma Kayte Saunders (Beyond The Barricade, Parade), Mark Turnbull (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Billy, Les Miserables) and James Wolstenholme (Quasimodo – World Premiere, Crazy For You). The Goodbye Girl will be directed by Adam Lenson with musical direction by Richard Bates, costumes and set designed by Suzi Lombardelli and choreographed by Claira Vaughan. It is produced by Szpiezak Productions.

LISTINGS
4th to 28th February 2015
UPSTAIRS AT THE GATEHOUSE
Highgate Village London N6 4BD

Performances:
Tuesdays-Saturdays 7.30pm
Sunday 8th 6pm
Sundays 15th, 22nd 4pm
Saturday Matinees 7th, 14th, 28th 3pm
Box Office: www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com
020 8340 3488

Sunday 8th February 2015

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