To conclude the summer season, Thingamajig Theatre Co. artistic director Tim Moore selected a thoughtful and timely comedy to balance out the uproarious productions of “Spamalot” and “The Full Monty” at Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. “Good People” is a clever, though often somber, look into class and culture in today’s America.
The Tony Award-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire follows Margie, a Boston “Southie” who can’t seem to hold a job. Searching for anything to keep her and her mentally disabled daughter off the streets, she reunites with her high-school sweetheart, a now successful doctor.
“(It) asks a timely question that is in the forefront of political debates today – ‘do people rise above their circumstances by hard work or by sheer luck? Is America still a place where you can actually buy into the idea of rugged individualism, or is it leaning towards a country where the deck is stacked against people in the lower classes,’” Moore said. “‘Good People’ goes back and forth between those two major ideas.”
To achieve the tricky equilibrium of a character-driven drama and a comedy, the Pagosa troupe imported directorial and acting talent from around the country.
“Using a cast and crew of local, regional and national professional talent propelled us past some of the limitations a company experiences in populations that are not only small, but sometimes homogenous,” Moore said.
Starring Abby Apple Boes as Margie and Kevin Hart as her “lace-curtain” counterpart Mike, “Good People” also features Deborah Persoff and Nancy Thomas as Margie’s colorful Southie friends. Craig Dolezel (“A Steady Rain” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”) and Kristen Adele portray the only rational characters in the play, providing a delicate sense of balance to the ensemble.
“Good People” is smartly and thoughtfully directed by John Ashton of the Avenue Theater in Denver, among other companies. He recently received the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“John knows how to make a story brew ’til you’re ready for that perfect moment when the play gives you its payoff,” Moore said. “John is also one of the funniest men I know and it’s essential to play the humor in this show.”
With more than 30 years of experience acting and directing, Ashton subtly builds tension – think the threat of red wine flying onto a white couch – until the scene is ripe to explode. Under his direction, “Good People” simultaneously transports the audience to Boston and yet transcends location, allowing the overriding themes to shine through.
“I think a lot of people, especially in Pagosa Springs, can relate to the desperation of balancing a checkbook and making the rent every month,” Moore said. “Tough times, whether in a metropolitan area or rural Colorado have persisted over the last few years. You can understand and relate to that desperation regardless of geographical location.”
“Good People” is co-produced with Apple Boes, the executive producer of Abster Productions in Denver. As Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts continues to grow and attract talented casts and crews, audiences will see further regional premieres of high-caliber shows such as “Good People” and “Spamalot.”
firstname.lastname@example.org. Margaret Hedderman is a freelance writer based in Durango.