Review: The Goodbye Girl at Diamond Head Theatre

Photo: courtesy Diamond Head Theatre

It surprised me that Diamond Head Theatre was playing "The Goodbye Girl," because the only thing memorable about it was the hit song by David Gates of Bread that was released after the film came out in 1977. Although Richard Dreyfuss won a Best Actor Oscar for the movie, the movie itself received mixed reviews, as did the 1993 musical reincarnation of it on Broadway, even though Marvin Hamlisch executed the score.

The story is about a single mom, Paula McFadden, and her 12-year-old daughter, Lucy, who've recently been abandoned (yet again) by Paula's latest actor boyfriend, Tony, in Tony's New York apartment. Struggling actor Elliot Garfield shows up on their doorstep in the middle of the night after subleasing the apartment from Tony (unbeknownst to Paula), and the two predictably fall in love after the usual dramatic conflicts.

Although it's using a script by well-known New York playwright Neil Simon, this latest production by Diamond Head Theatre has lost its East Coast flavor and 1970s feel. Much of the charm of the original piece was the setting at the time and the chemistry between the two leads, and that's been lost through the use of such anachronisms as modern-day Macy's shopping bags, cell phones, school backpacks and the mention of CNN, Madonna, and Beyonce.

Pedro Armando Haro, playing the lead role of Elliot can play geeky well, but not in the charming sort of way required of the role. Also, Haro's singing and acting chops can't quite keep pace with leading lady Paula's (Tricia Marciel) and there's very little actual on-stage chemistry between the two. Paula's young daughter, Lucy (Stephanie Zaharis) is cute, but a bit on the cloying side, as are the other youngsters, as well as, unfortunately, pretty much the whole production.

A surprise standout is Palomalinda Goodwyn as Mrs. Crosby, who lends much-needed ironic levity to the play with her deft comedic timing, and who can really belt it out when called for.

But it's hard to know what director/choreographer John Rampage had in mind when he kept gratuitous and fairly standard dance rehearsal scenes and other plot devices in a show that runs two-and-a-half hours (with intermission), and that, storywise, really could've been cut by an hour.

Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave., 733-0274, Plays through June 9:  Thu. – Sat. 8 p.m.;  Sun. 4 p.m.; Sat. matinees 3 p.m. on June 1 and 8.


Jackie M. Young has been a freelance writer since 2007, and has been involved in acting, radio and TV for many years. She is a UH graduate.