Review: 'Greetings' at the Goshen Players

Nancy Sasso Janis

“It’ll take a miracle to get this family through the holidays!”

Goshen Players are presenting the comedy-drama ‘Greetings!’ by Tom Dudzick (the author of ‘Over the Tavern’) at the Goshen Old Town Hall through Nov. 21. The heartwarming and thought provoking play is under the direction of the legendary Lea Dmytryck. I was pleased to attend an invitational midweek dress rehearsal on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with a handful of theatre people from the Warner Theatre and the small audience was welcomed to Ms. Dmytryck herself before she took a seat behind me to record her notes. 

The director, who has been a member of the Goshen players for an impressive 48 years, writes that for her this script definitely stands out as a “must do.” The play is set in Pittsburgh in 1990 and Ms. Dmytryck thoughtfully describes it this way:

 A middle-class Polish family is facing many problems that families encounter today - physical and mental handicaps, love and bigotry, spirituality and cynicism. How [the Gorski] family deals with each of these dilemmas resonates with us, right here and now! Familial love, acceptance of those different from us and respect for each other are things we face daily…It is my hope that you carry with you [as you leave the venue] the message of love and optimism and perhaps the possibility of a miracle or two that is our gift to you today. 

I found the play very strongly written, thoughtful, and very uplifting. Mr. Dudzick is often referred to as “the Catholic Neil Simon.” and it is great combination to behold. ‘Greetings!’ takes place on Christmas Eve, but is far from the typical holiday fare. It has lots of gentle laughs, a few genuine surprises and strong ending. Of course the careful casting of the Goshen production adds much to the two acts, and I was so engrossed that the two hours flew by during this rehearsal in name only. Ms. Dmytryck’s precise direction was very evident; her assistant artistic director is her ‘Winter Flowers’ sister, Jane Coughlin. 

The older Gorski brother is played by the musician/actor Scott Stanchfield and I was once again impressed with his wonderful acting skills that made Andy both endearing and authentic. Andy’s fiancee Randi is played well by Jennifer Archer (Shelby in ‘Steel Magnolias’) and becomes more likable as the play progresses. Dianna Waller and James Woods play Andy’s parents. Ms. Waller, in her first show in Goshen, is the housewife/mother with a lot to deal with in this play; the actress nails the comic elements and does just as well with the dramatic parts. Mr. Woods gives a wonderful performance as Emily’s bigoted and handicapped husband and the fact that these two are a couple in real life made their interactions even more believable. I think of Mr. Woods as a Horace Vandergelder song and dance man but here he proves his dramatic acting chops. 

Mike Ritts reprises the role of Mickey, which he first played in a staged reading of the piece for Goshen Players. Mr.Ritts, who lives in Shelton, was last seen on the Goshen stage in ‘On Golden Pond.’ He brings so much care to the role of Andy’s brother Mickey, a most challenging character to portray. His performance is one that I will always remember. 

The meticulous set was designed by the director and Dave Boscarino with set decoration by the amazing Judy Tringali. The latter also did the props, makeup and hair. Lighting by Wes Baldwin made the living/dining room look even better. Incidental Christmas music added a holiday vibe to transitions. 

Goshen Players, Inc. continues to restore and maintain the wonderful Old Town Hall, their performance venue for many years. Watch for the announcement of their grand re-opening this spring and information about their spring comedy, ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged’ in April. 

Photos by Heather Boscarino,house photographer for Goshen Players