***** Clifford Odets is a writer that many younger theater audiences will not recognize. His works include “Waiting For Lefty”. “Awake and Sing”, “Paradise Lost” and his movies “The Country Girl” “Sweet Smell of Success” and “The Story on Page One” among others. These were classics in their day and Griffin Theatre Company has taken on one of the most famous pieces, “Golden Boy” as a highlight of their 25th season. “Golden Boy” takes place in a real world, gritty atmosphere of a world that most of us only hear about; that if the prize fighting world.
It is the story of a young man, Joe Bonaparte ( a powerful performance by Nate Santana) who goes against his fathers wishes and dreams so he can become “somebody”. It is his father’s dream and ambition that Joe become a concert violinist, but Joe prefers the boxing ring, where he can rise above his peers quickly and win adoration from the masses.
This revival ( redone in 2012) is directed by Jonathan Berry on a masterful set (Dan Stratton has created a set that allows us to move from place to place with great timing and little waste). Berry has almost choreographed each of these changes as a dance-like movement. It is a superb way of moving from scene to scene. There are some great fight scenes ( done with shadows and lighting by Rebecca Barrett which gives new meaning to the expression” shadow boxing” (John Tovar handles this choreography). Rick Sims handles the sound and the costumes by Mieka van der Ploeg make this a solid show on the tech side as well as the acting.
In addition to the work of Mr. Santana, other cast members include Nina O’Keefe as Lorna, the love interest for young Joe as well as his manager Moody ( deftly handled by Mark Pracht). This is a love triangle that gets deeper than just the need of another to have and to hold. Moody is a married man willing to give up his wife and family for Lorna, but at the same time having a young winner is of great importance to him as well. Lorna is looking for love and wants to feel “needed” which she finds with the young fighter, so what we witness in this story is the bonds of the characters and what happens in their lives. This is also another one of those oldies that deals with “the American Dream” and fame and fortune over happiness.
Other impressive performances in this production are Jason Lindner as Tokio, the trainer; Norm Woodel as Mr. Bonaparte, the father; David Prete as Eddie, the mob guy who buys into Joe for all the right reasons and Morgan Maher . Other cast members, Paull Popp, Johnny Moran, Connor MCNamara, Niall McGinty, Laura Lapidus, John Connolly, David Cady Jr. and Jerry Bloom round out the solid cast playing their roles as well as changing the set walls and pieces during the three acts ( yes, two intermissions) 2 hours and forty-five minutes, which seemed to move very quickly. This is one that you should put on your “must see” list if you like good drama, boxing, or just want to be entertained.
“Golden Boy” will continue at Theater Wit located at 1229 West Belmont through April 6th with performances as follows:
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $33 ( less $5 for students and seniors)- general admission, no reserved seats. Tickets can be ordered by calling 773-975-8150 or visiting the box office or online at www.theaterwit.org
To learn more about the 25th year of Griffin Theatre Company, visitwww.griffintheatre.com
There is valet parking available at the theater as well as street parking in the area. some metered, some not and of course, Coopers, right across the street is a great place to grab a bit before or after the show and they have a lot in the rear.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Golden Boy”