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298 Kinderkamack Road, Oradell, NJ 07649


Bergen County Players, inc.


«  »May 2024


Bergen County Players stage 'Good People' through January


Click here for the FULL ARTICLE  at NorthJersey.com

Park Ridge's fun-loving Irish-American actress Paula O'Brien, who local community theatergoers may recall as the acerbic housekeeper in the Bergen County Players' hysterical production of "Boeing, Boeing" in 2013 is debuting her most dramatic role to date.

Under the direction of Peter Colletto, O'Brien is currently playing her first lead role as Margie Walsh in David Lindsay-Abaire's award-winning dramedy "Good People" at Oradell's Little Firehouse Theatre throughout the month. The play premiered at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway in 2011, starring Frances McDormand as Walsh, a performance which won her a Tony Award.

Walsh, a broke, down-to-earth single mom living in Boston who often tries her luck at bingo, is fired from her job as a clerk at a dollar store. She eventually reaches out to an old high school flame – Mike, a wealthy doctor – for employment.

"It speaks to me intensely about class and about struggle," said Colletto of the production. "It speaks to a lot of what's going on in America today, with people losing their jobs and having no place to turn and facing desperation. It's also entertaining. It's funny and sad and tells a great story."

O'Brien relates the storyline to the current economic times as the country inches its way out of the economic crisis of 2008.

"[There's] depth and heart to it, especially in the economic times we've been going through," she explained. "She [Margie] had a lot of heart. The other characters in it are people that need to fight every day just to get through life."

O'Brien says she relates to Margie in real life, and remembers what it was like to be young and paying her dues, yet feeling self-reliant and reluctant to ask for help.

"I recognized in her the challenges she has gone through. All of us, in our life, we go through different stages and challenges," she said. "I've been through similar things. When you're starting off, you're not exactly flush with money. I dealt with being in situations and needing help, but not wanting to reach out for help."

In the play, Walsh finally reaches out to Mike, played by Tenafly's Mic McCormick, who managed to get out of Southie and become a successful doctor. His success, however, is something Walsh dismisses as a lucky break. She also tries to coerce Mike into believing that her special needs daughter is his. The play, O'Brien says, becomes a question of "will he recognize where he came from and help her or does he not?"

Either way, everyday people, she adds, have to forge for themselves.

"Life happens every day, and you have to get on with it," she noted. "You can look back at the past, but you have to move on."

For the role, O'Brien prepared by honing her best Boston accent and attending bingo nights at a local church with her co-star, Jean Marie Garver-Gaydos, of River Edge, who plays the role of Jean.

"There are a couple of scenes in a bingo hall," explains O'Brien. "Their idea of a good night out is having a few spare dollars to buy bingo cards. She [Jean] and I did research and went to a bingo night in Emerson before Christmas. We wanted to see what happens during bingo, what type of people go to bingo. They take it very seriously… they're hoping they can win. They sit at the same place [and] bring their knickknacks, good luck charms… it was interesting to see."

Westwood's Ed Gross plays the voiceover of the priest who calls out the bingo game.

"I think this play will get people thinking and asking questions of the characters in the play as well as themselves," O'Brien said. "What would they have done in Margie's situation or in Mike's situation?"

"Good people do the right things even when people aren't looking," said Colletto. "Who really is good?"

"Good People" is being staged at the Little Firehouse Theater in Oradell located at 298 Kinderkamack Road through Jan. 30 on weekends at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21 for evening shows and $17 for matinees and can be purchased by visiting bcplayers.org or calling 201-261-4200.

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