|Tom Noga, Shelby Daeffler, and Debra Rich|
Photo by Mark Gluckman
"Compassion and forgiveness are at the center of Heidi Schreck's Grand Concourse, receiving its Arizona premiere in a smart and subtle production with a gifted cast from Theatre Artists Studio. Set in a soup kitchen in the Bronx, the drama shows that all of us, whether rich or poor, religious or atheist, have flaws; and her dialogue and characters are both honest and succinct, with no extraneous moment in the swift-moving two-hour piece. Nun Shelley oversees the soup kitchen that resides in a former church on the Grand Concourse, a major roadway in the Bronx..New 19-year-old volunteer Emma arrives to help in the kitchen and, through a series of short scenes that take place over the next several months, we see how Emma proves to have both positive and negative influences on all of those around her....The cast is pretty terrific. Debra Rich's portrayal of Shelley perfectly displays the many sides of the character. ...As Emma, Shelby Daeffler is very convincing as an impulsive, out of control and just a little bit crazy college drop-out. ...Luke Gomez brings the right level of care and understanding to Oscar...As Frog, the homeless man who has made the soup kitchen his home, even sometimes camping outside in the rectory, Tom Noga is brilliant. ...Director Richard Powers-Hardt is adept in achieving authentic, moving performances from his cast and also having the scenes flow naturally and realistically. ...Grand Concourse is a play about second chances and, while it may not have all of the answers to the questions it brings up, and the ending doesn't resolve everything, it is a subtly moving and ultimately engrossing tale of faith, failure, and forgiveness. Theatre Artists Studio's production has a great cast and clear direction and the end result is especially rewarding."
-Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)