by Rita Charleston
“Good People,” a two-time 2011 Tony Award-nominated play by David Lindsay-Abaire, centers on Margie, a middle-aged single mother who is being let go from yet another job (and she has a mentally handicapped daughter). As she desperately seeks rescue from destitution, an opportunity presents itself in the form of an old boyfriend who has established himself as a respected doctor. The ensuing confrontation, “at once heartrending and irresistibly funny” (according to a press release from the theater), transports the audience across a range of emotions as it deals with class, money and the human condition.
This time around, the play, directed by David Flagg, and starring Jen Allegra in the role of Margie, is being presented by The Stagecrafters, 8130 Germantown Ave., on weekends from June 12 to 28. Allegra, a graduate of George Washington University with a BA in Theater, said the passion to perform was sparked in her by her mother who was involved in performing and singing.
“So growing up I definitely was inspired by her. Today, my children also love it and have done some volunteering at Stagecrafters. I don’t know if they will pursue performing themselves, but they do understand the rehearsal process, and when I say I have to go, they know I have to go. Over the years, it’s become a sort of family affair, although more of a hobby than anything else We realized it wasn’t something you could make a lot of money at, but we all love it.”
Now in her 40s and working full-time as a product manager for IBM “to pay the bills,” Allegra has performed at other area theaters but now performs only at Stagecrafters. And when she’s not on stage, she can often be found behind it, doing stage management, costume construction, working on lighting and make-up, et al.
Over the years, Allegra has appeared in such productions at Stagecrafters as “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” “Jake’s Women” and others. And she believes “Good People” is fast becoming her favorite. “I think with the passage of time, it will definitely become my all-time favorite, mainly because the role is so demanding, exhilarating and exhausting.
“I just find Margie so interesting, and I keep finding out new things about her. Sometimes I love her, and sometimes I hate her. But ultimately, she’s very deep, and that’s what I love about this play and this character.”
Allegra admits the greatest joy of all in playing all her characters is the ability to be that “little kid and express myself in this medium. The accolades are certainly fun too, but you don’t get them while rehearsing. But what you do get rehearsing is a magical feeling and the collaborative journey which, for me, totally fulfills that little kid in me.”
Raising two children as a single mother is not always an easy job, so with her son about to enter his last year in high school, Allegra said this may be her last show of the season until he graduates so she can spend more time with him. “But once the empty nest hits, I know I’ll be right back.”
And for others who might like to dabble in the arts, Allegra, who lives in University City. thinks anyone who is interested in theater should get involved behind the scenes to have a better understanding of how everything works. “And it never hurts to audition for everything. After all, acting is not rocket science, so give it a try. What do you have to lose?”
For times and reservations for “Good People,” call 215-247-9913.