Patrick White has worked on enough stage productions to recognize a story that offers something new and unique.
“Good People,” a 2011 play by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsey-Abaire opening Friday night at Curtain Call Theatre, is such a play.
“I thought it was a really compelling piece that dealt with income inequality and a class divide that no one really deals with honestly,” said White, one of the Capital Region’s busiest actors. “No one in America really wants to talk about that.”
The story centers on the character of Margie Walsh, a cashier at a dollar store who is fired for tardiness. When Walsh, played by Colleen Lovett, begins looking for a new job and contacts an old friend from her South Boston neighborhood, the past and present come into conflict. Her old friend, a physician named Mike, is played by White.
“She’s fired from her job because she has an adult child with special needs,” said White. “They grew up in the same neighborhood, but he got out and went to Georgetown and got his doctorate. He got out of his predicament, but she never did. The play has a very grim, Boston-Irish take on life, very fatalistic, and she is dealing with some very trying circumstances.”
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, runs through Feb. 8; performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $23
MORE INFO: 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com
Part of the play’s appeal for Lovett was looking into Margie’s back story.
“The story really explores her beliefs about herself and what is possible for her,” Lovett said. “I was really intrigued as to why and how Margie got herself into this situation.”
Much of her past is learned from conversations between her and Mike and Mike’s wife, Kate, played by Stacey Rowland.
Also in the cast are Resa Tanner as Dottie and Andrea Valenti as Jean. Adam Lansberg rounds out the cast, playing Stevie, while Chris Foster is the director.
“The central part of the story is pretty serious, but parts of it are also quite humorous,” said Lovett. “My character has two close friends in the play, and they kind of provide the comic relief. Their views on the world are quite funny. They’re very witty.”
Humor is another reason White enjoys the play so much.
“The play deals with serious material, but it does so with a good deal of humor,” he said. “The humor is very funny.”
“Good People” had its world premiere at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York and earned one 2011 Tony Award (Best Leading Actress for Frances McDormand) and was nominated for another (Best Play). Lindsey-Abaire also received Tony nominations for his music to “Shrek The Musical” and his play “Rabbit Hole,” which also won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007.
While Lovett has not seen the play, White took in productions by both the Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, Vt., and the Sayles School of Fine Arts at Schenectady High School.
“I read some great reviews of the Broadway show, so we went to Dorset last summer to see a production, and we also saw the Blue Roses Theatre Company version at Schenectady High during the fall,” said White.
“They were both very well done, and Bill Ziskin does a great job of directing the Schenectady High kids. We love going there to see their stuff.”
While White has been a regular on Capital Region stages for 25 years, Lovett is a relative newcomer. A Queens native, she didn’t take up the stage until she landed a small role in the 2008 Schenectady Civic Players production of “The Triangle Shirt Factory Fire.” In 2010 she played Aunt Ev in the New York State Theatre Institute production of “The Miracle Worker,” and in 2011 she had a featured role in the Curtain Call production of “Sweepers.”
“This show kind of parallels ‘Sweepers,’ although that got into the story of all three women and in ‘Good People’ it’s more focused on my character than my two girlfriends,” said Lovett. “But there are three friends involved and that bond is there.”
Working with veterans
Lovett is enjoying her first working experience with White and Foster, another long-time community theater stalwart.
“It’s very exciting to be able to work with both of them,” said Lovett, who also performed in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” with the Classic Theater Guild during the summer of 2012. “I’ve known them as members of the theater community, and I’ve seen various productions with them, but now I finally get to work with them.”
White, a Colonie High graduate who attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, recently performed as a guest artist in the Siena College production of “Snow Queen,” and just last fall was in “Big Maggie” at Albany Civic while also directing “The Glass Menagerie” for Our Own Productions in Schenectady.
In 2011, White and Foster played the two leads in the Curtain Call production of “Bill W and Dr. Bob.”
The two men were both closely associated with Albany Civic, but now they can also be called regulars at Curtain Call. Foster directed “The Real Thing” at Curtain Call in 2013 as well as “Next Fall” in 2012, and was part of the cast in “The Miracle Worker” there in 2012. He has also been seen recently on the stage of the Schenectady Civic Playhouse in “Sunday in the Park with George,” and in “The Oldest Profession” at Albany Civic.