How fitting that Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical had its premiere in the week when Pope Francis is in the United States urging everyone to love their neighbors. The play by Broadway Palm paterfamilias Tom Ross Prather poignantly demonstrates heart and humanity.
The plot takes us through a year in the life of a church-run thrift shop. Along the way, we meet the staff and learn that they, like the merchandise, are in search of second chances. The manager has a husband who has returned from Iraq with emotional problems. The feisty cashier has cancer. One of the folks in the backroom is newly widowed; the other is long-divorced. The new “volunteer” is fulfilling the community service terms of his probation. Even though faced with troubles of their own, they manage to reach out to others in need.
The cast shines in the small Off-Broadway space. Without the need for amplification, we really get to hear the beauty and power of their voices. Rendell DeBose is a standout in that regard. He stops the show in his first rock number, reminiscent of a young Ben Vereen, and again in a pianissimo finale to “O Holy Night.”
Victor Legarreta is a scene stealer as both the bombastic landlord and a tap dancing drag queen. The other three actors in the Ensemble are in constant motion, changing personalities, clothes, and wigs willy-nilly to portray people dropping off or buying items.
The people who run the Hallmark TV channel should option this production. It would make a great holiday special.
Second Chances runs through November 7. Call 239.278.4422 for tickets.