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'The Goodbye Girl' opens Trafford's Theatre Factory season

| Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Amelia Bender, Chelsea Bartel and Nick Mitchell star in the Theatre Factory production of 'The Goodbye Girl.'
Amelia Bender, Chelsea Bartel and Nick Mitchell star in the Theatre Factory production of 'The Goodbye Girl.'

The Theatre Factory in Trafford opens its 2017-2018 season with a classic Neil Simon romantic musical, “The Goodbye Girl,” based on the 1977 film, with music by the late Marvin Hamlisch, former Pops conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Nick Mitchell of Bloomfield and Chelsea Bartel of South Side portray Paula and Elliot, roles played by Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Marson in the movie.

Mitchell says he first heard of the Tony-nominated musical 20 years ago as a member of the stage crew at the Erie Playhouse.

“I immediately fell in love with it and hoped that Elliot Garfield was a role I would someday get to play,” he says.

The actor says the show is funny, wholesome and touching and the music “is decidedly hummable — a feature we don't always find in modern musicals.”

The plot involves Elliot, an actor from Chicago who because of a subletting error is forced to share a New York apartment with Paula and her teenage daughter, Lucy (Amelia Bender of Jeannette). Despite their mismatched beginnings, they fall for each other.

“The cast and production team are local and incredibly talented,” Mitchell says. “Chelsea Bartel as Paula is a worthy foil with whom Elliot verbally spars. Linda Haston as director and Scott Calhoon (designer) absolutely transform the theater to locations all over NYC. It's truly regional theater at its finest.”

Bartel says her character, a former dancer and devoted mother who has had a lot of bad luck with the men in her life but decides to give love a chance, is a fun role to play.

“I had actually never heard of the show before, and I love discovering new works,” she says. “As I learned more about my character, Paula, I discovered how alike we are, and I love having the opportunity to bring a bit of myself into the role I'm portraying.”

Director Linda Haston of Pittsburgh lived in New York City for 10 years, where she performed her own cabaret act, and did national and regional theater tours. In Pittsburgh, she is education director and teaching artist and a performer for Prime Stage Theatre.

The cast also includes: Grace Bender of Jeannette, Mildred Mickle of North Versailles, Domenic Jungling of Gibsonia, Sarah Johnson of Apollo, Justin Snyder of Monroeville, D. Palyo of West Mifflin and Mary Parker and Katie Trupiano of Pittsburgh. Kirk Howe of Pittsburgh is musical director; Bekah Little of White Oak is stage manager.

Theatre Factory Artistic Director Scott Calhoon breaks down the rest of the season:

• Oct. 12-22, “Last of the Boys,” a heartfelt story of friends and family and how life can bring people together or send them reeling apart, featuring Dennis (Chip) Kerr, William Mitas, Pamela Bell Farneth, Kaylyn Farneth and Dominick Jungling.

• Dec. 7-17, “A Christmas Story,” is based on the classic movie. Calhoon says, “Seeing it live on our stage will be an even better family experience that your kids and your parents will truly not forget.”

• Feb. 15-25, “Sylvia,” a love story — or triangle — between a young man and his girlfriend and the “other woman,” Sylvia, his newly adopted stray dog. “It is a funny, touching story that shouldn't be missed,” the director says.

• April 26-May 6, “Forbidden Broadway,” with hysterical takes on the biggest songs of Broadway in the past dozen or more years.

• July 12-22, “Big Fish,” a newly reimagined version of a family show about Edward Bloom, a man who leads an extraordinary life, according to the stories he tells his son, with memorable songs.

“It is always a balance between what we think will make our audiences happy, what will make our actors inspired and what we think will push us artistically but not break the bank,” he says. “I think we made really great choices with an excellent balance for this season.”

The Theatre Factory's KidWorks season will open Nov. 11-19 with “Snoopy the Musical,” based on Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip, followed by “The Velveteen Rabbit” March 17-23, “Junie B Jones is Not a Crook” June 2-8 and “The Jungle Book” Aug. 11-17.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Revew contributing writer.

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