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The Goodbye Girl

'The Goodbye Girl' has received some bad reviews since opening last week, in fact I've yet to read a good one! So I was not particularly looking forward to seeing it, but I'm glad I did as I found the show was not as bad as the critics had made out.

The story is about Paula (Ann Crumb), a dancer and single mum to her daughter Lucy. Paula has had many failed relationships with actors, and after the latest one dumps her she swears never to have anything to do with them again. However, after some confusion over the lease of her flat she finds she has to share it with another actor, Elliot Garfield (Gary Wilmot). They do not hit it off and the usual arguments begin, but soon they get an attraction for each other. But can Paula trust Elliot not to be like the other men who have let her down? There is also her daughter to consider. Will true love win through?

Yes, the story is predictable and old fashioned, but there is nothing wrong with that. One can tire of the usual big musicals from the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber or the intelligent and sometimes heavy Sondheim. It is nice to see a simple, witty and charming musical that doesn't task you too much after a hard days work.

The music is not particularly memorable but there are many funny lines and incidents to keep you smiling, although it's the great Gary Wilmot that pulls it off. He is in fine form playing a role made for him, he has charisma and charm which shines through, which is why this comedy musical works. Ann Crumb, who plays Paula is just as funny and delightful. BILL HAGERTY in the THE NEWS OF THE WORLD review agrees, he says " ...scintillating, Ann Crumb and Gary Wilmot, at his versatile best, are perfectly charming..", however he does go on to say the production "has no bite, and rarely moving, either". JANE EDWARDS in the TIME OUT review partly agrees , she says " Wilmot's a star; the rest's a sham." NICHOLAS DE JONGH in the EVENING STANDARD review says of the scenes when Gary Wilmot has to play the role of King Richard III as a gay transvestite, " ..rise to unfunny heights of grossness, stupidity and sheer offensiveness". I don't agree with him on this, I thought the scene was hilarious and was in tone with the rest of the show.

The child who played the daughter, Lucy, goes over the top with the acting at times, but she has a great singing voice. Shezwae Powell is wonderful as Mrs Crosby, the caring landlady who is friends with Paula and Lucy. Some of the best lines are from her, particularly the ones relating to why men are so bad!

The set design by Robert Jones is great, I love it at the beginning of the show when the orchestra is lifted into the air and then moved towards the back of the stage while the main set moves forward from beneath. All through the show the set changes are done quite smoothly and effectively.

This is a delightfully simple and amusing musical which was well received by the audience. The auditorium was almost full, and for a Tueday evening, that's not bad. It looks like this could be in for a long run.

(Darren Dalglish)

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