Long before Manchester By The Sea, author and director Kenneth Lonergan wrote Lobby Hero, a play involving a murder, four flawed people and a set of secrets that if revealed will result in somebody being helped but someone else being hurt.
In 2011, critic Jason Zinoman writing in The New York Times argued that Lobby Hero which debuted in 2001 deserved the honor of being declared the best new American play in the first decade of the 21st Century.
Kim Tobin-Lehl , co-founder of 4th Wall Theatre Company had seen the play and was impressed. She was surprised to find that it had not been performed in Houston. So when she and her husband Philip Lehl planned their season, they resolved to change that which they are about to do with their upcoming production of the two-act, two-hour comedy-drama.
Jeff is a night watchman in a middle-income Manhattan apartment. He’s in his late 20s, probably not living up to his potential but with his habit of talking too much, this is a good job for him. He is, as it turns out, the titled lobby hero.
He gets drawn into a murder investigation involving his strict supervisor’s troubled brother which also brings in another parallel pair: a veteran police officer and the young female officer who is his partner. There are secrets enough to go around and Jeff has only bad options to sort through.
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Lonergan wraps comedy, drama and romance into one neat package (and is much lighter in tone than Manchester, says Tobin-Lehl who is co-directing with Jennifer Dean.)
Actor Adam Gibbs takes a break from musical theater to play Jeff saying: “He is a very good-spirited, light-hearted, well-intentioned individual, but what speaks to me about Jeff and about this play generally is that all of the characters are very flawed. All four characters you see them stuck between right and wrong. I think that the flaws are what make these characters real to me.”
The two-act has a running time of about two hours with intermission and also stars Chelsea Ryan McCurdy as the young police officer, Drake Simpson as her older partner, and Joe Palmore as Jeff’s boss.
Performances are scheduled for May 11 through June 3 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 29 at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. For information call 832-786-1849 or visit 4thwalltheatre.com. $29-$49, $23 senior, $15 student. Pay what you can Monday May 29.