“Once” – ASU Gammage and “Good People” – Actors Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ May 1, 2014


Another busy theater opening period with last weekend’s Actors Theatre’s slickly polished “Good People” production, an interesting play about challenged people.  And Tuesday the bland and uninteresting musical “Once,” winner of the 2012 Tony Best Musical Award, premiered at ASU Gammage.

Broadway Across America- Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

“Once” has a terrible pseudo-Irish-folk-song score.  The repetitious tunes blur together because they sound so similar.  The show is boringly staged by John Tiffany with uninteresting “movement” by Steven Hoggett.  The competent cast lacks the dazzle and charisma to make the dull characters even mildly interesting.  Each cast member plays a musical instrument as they stand stage center in an almost straight line surrounded on either side by supporting players who strum guitars plaintively as they sing chorus parts.  The songs tell tales of the musical’s characters but because the song lyrics are unintelligible the audience neither understands nor cares about these people or their circumstances.

“Once” is an intimate affair so it doesn’t belong in barney ASU Gammage where the dreadful acoustics turn song lyrics into unintelligible garble.  Common audience intermission discussions opening night were that most theatergoers had trouble understanding anything said on stage.  After the intermission, lots of once filled seats sat empty suggesting that vast numbers of the audience escaped.  The second act did not improve.

And what’s with a program that lists several different replacements so few of this tour’s lead performers will appear here.  This dud apparently won the Best Musical Tony by default.  It  continues through Sunday at ASU Gammage.  For tickets, call the Ticketmaster box office at 800-982-2787 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: D

Actors Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“Good People,” David Lindsay-Abaire’s play examines people at the lowest economic place in American society.  Three characters have hand-to-mouth lives but these women are clever about how they use money that comes their way.  Two other characters came from this disadvantaged environment but worked to rise above this position.

“Good People” is set largely in South Boston and shows how these characters exist so low on the economic totem pole.  Matthew Wiener’s sharply detailed production paints a graphic picture of this place and how these people deal with their hopelessly depressing situations.  He’s assembled a fine acting company who create realistic views of these marginal people.

“Good People” provides a clear look into the struggling masses who give life a shot without expecting too much.  It continues through May 11.  Order tickets online at www.actorstheatrephx.org.

Grade: B

One Response to ““Once” – ASU Gammage and “Good People” – Actors Theatre”

  1. Chris Curcio said:

    May 10, 14 at 16:14

    Remember that reviews are subjective opinions and therefore are how the author feels. Just because you don’t agree with me about specific shows doesn’t mean you are right and I am wrong. Also, considering I’m such a “clueless dud,” it is very interesting that we agreed about the excellent “Good People” production. You need to get a hold on reality and what a subjective opinion means. I’m afraid you are the clueless dud!