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Review: 'Good People' superior theater at Chester Theatre Group

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Good People-live play

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The Chester Theatre Group's current production is Good People written by David Lindsay-Abaire (Fuddy Meers, Rabbit Hole and Shrek the musical) and directed by Cindy Alexander (CTG's Shirley Valentine). This is the first community theater production of the play in New Jersey since the George Street Playhouse's acclaimed production in early 2013 (to our knowledge).

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Lindsay-Abaire has written a remarkable play about the struggles of life in the blue collar, working class area of South Boston where he grew up and a local is called "Southie." The heroine-victim of Good People is Margaret, played by Perry award winner (New Jersey Community Theater Association's "Tony" —for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play-Shirley Valentine) Gloria Lamoureux.

Gloria Lamoureux' touching, sensitive performance in Good People is truly outstanding. She may be on her way to another Perry. It is exciting to see how such a fine actress, with a superior, well directed, cast can light the stage and remind us of the magic that is unique to live theater.

A bit-of-the plot: Margaret is a 50-ish single mom, with a young adult handicapped daughter, who can barely pay her bills at the $9.25 per hour she earns as a cashier at a 'Dollar Value' store. As the play opens she is fired from the job for chronic tardiness, due to the lackadaisical attitude of her babysitter who also happens to be her landlady.

With the job options almost non-existent due to the recession, Margaret desperately seeks out, after 30 years, her high school sweetheart Mike now a successful and married Boston doctor in hopes of obtaining a position in his office....even cleaning if necessary. Each has a vastly different story of how they either climbed out of their original lower class world, as in the case of Mike, or remained trapped by circumstances, in Margaret's case, mostly beyond her control.

In addition to Gloria Lamoureux as Margaret, the cast includes an impressive Matt Meier as Mike. He clearly does not want any reminders of the "southie" life he successfully escaped. Equally, impressive is the attractive, Kellei Cosby as Kate, Mike's troubled African-American wife who attempts to offer Margaret the help Mike withholds.

The very talented CTG favorite Ellen Fraker-Glasscock is having a fun turn as Dottie, Margaret's landlady, babysitter and bingo buddy. Claudia Metz is a comedy treat as Margaret's foul-mouthed best friend Jean; and young George Bierly is nicely making his debut at CTG as Stevie a young friend from the neighborhood and the "Dollar Value" store manager.

Director Alexander's creative team includes: Steve Catron who contributed the fine set design; Phil Lamoureux lighting design; Jeff Knapp sound design; Diane Butler producer; Barbara Haag, Beth Gleason and Karen Catron props; Colleen Lannigan stage manager; and Bob Longstreet and Jerry Lane lighting/sound operation.

Good People is a thoroughly satisfying, well-written, thought-provoking play that at its core is sad, but yet has many funny moments. It is hard not to look at Margaret without coming away wondering about our own life choices. This is a must-see-event.

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio March 15, 2014

The Chester Theatre Group's Good People will have five remaining public performances: March 21, 22, 28, 29 at 8 pm, and 30 at 2 pm

Tickets are $20 with a $2 discount available for seniors aged 65 and over and students under 18. Tickets can be reserved by calling the theater box office at 908-879-7304 or by visiting www.chestertheatregroup.com.

Also of note: Good People is also the very first CTG play with online ticket purchasing via the group’s recently redesigned website.

The Chester Theatre Group's Black River Playhouse is located at 54 Grove Street in downtown Chester, NJ at the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue.

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