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The next stage; Worcester native will re-create Hofstra project for hometown audience.

Byline: Richard Duckett

Lily Goodman already knows that her one-woman presentation of Eve Ensler's "The Good Body" has made the grade.

The show, which Goodman will take to the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday at 21 Grandview Ave., Worcester, is "a really powerful play, and Lily does a great job."

That was Goodman's mother, Andrea Goodman, speaking. But that wasn't the grade we were talking about it.

Lily Goodman first presented Ensler's "The Good Body" last month in two shows at Hofstra University on Long Island. That's where the Worcester native will soon be getting her BFA in theater arts with a concentration in performance. Goodman took on "The Good Body" for her senior practicum.

Ensler is probably best known for "The Vagina Monologues." Like that work, in "The Good Body" Ensler weaves together interviews she conducted with women, this time about body image issues. "It's very important to be comfortable with your body," Goodman said. "And it is something you can control."

The women Ensler interviewed included Helen Gurley Brown and a Maasai African woman. All had a different view of their body. Ensler also tries to offer her own perspectives.

In Goodman's one-woman presentation she takes on all the characters as well as Ensler's narrative. "That's how Eve did (performed) it. For my own educational purposes, that's how I did it. I wanted the challenge of doing everything. It's been a really good learning experience," Goodman said.

At Hofstra, "The Good Body" was put on in a small theater and a total of 90 people attended over the course of two nights. "It was really well received," she said.

Fortunately that included the Hofstra professors in attendance, who graded Goodman an "A."

"Having learned 90 pages of lines, I hoped to get an `A,'" Goodman said, only half-jokingly.

Home for the holidays, Goodman decided she'd like to put on the show here, where local theatergoers have had the opportunity to follow her development as an actress since she was a child. "I've been doing so much work on Long Island, we thought it would be fun to do it for the Worcester community," she said of Saturday's presentation (which is free, but since the theater is small, reservations are recommended by calling (508) 756-7816). "We thought it would be nice to show what I've learned."

Most people who have seen Goodman perform with groups such as the Worcester County Light Opera Company and Calliope Productions will associate her with musical theater shows. "The Good Body" will demonstrate that she can take on straight roles as well, she said.

Goodman, 21, had her first role in a Calliope Productions presentation of "Scrooge" when she was 5 years old.

"My mom said, `I'm gonna audition, wanna come along?' I said `Sure.'"

Actually, a good grade from her mother does count for a lot since Andrea Goodman is also a talented local actress with many roles to her credit.

Lily Goodman picked up the theater bug from her mother more or less right away. She appeared in a production of "Annie" when she was 9. "It was probably then that I decided I wanted to do it forever," she said.

She attended Notre Dame Academy and also appeared in plays with the Wachusett Theatre Company. She studied dance with Denise Day, and is also classically trained vocally.

At Hofstra everything has come together, Goodman said. As opposed to being a singer trying to act, "I became an actor who can sing."

After graduating from Hofstra in a few weeks, Goodman will be trying to make the grade of a different sort - as an aspiring actress in New York City.

"I have a really good education behind me, I have a good mind-set, I trust myself to be happy with what I'm doing. I want to give it a shot. If it doesn't work out, we'll take it from there," Goodman said.

Next month she plans to start looking for an apartment in New York and a job that will pay for it. Then she'll hit the auditions.

She's already heard from a couple of naysayers. But they are not in her family. And Goodman comes across as practical as well as positive. There's also nothing wrong with some hope and idealism.

"It can get frustrating when people say you're gonna be a waiter. But I'd rather be happy with no money than be unhappy with money, sitting at a desk doing a job I hate," she said.

Any backup plans?

"If you have a backup plan that's saying I won't make it."

Actually, Goodman considers herself a very good planner. "The Good Body" performance is a well-organized case in point. Grade "A."

Now she faces an incomplete for the initial foreseeable future.

"It's kind of scary not knowing what's going to happen. But it's fun, too - being taken out of your element."

Lily Goodman presents Eve Ensler's `The Good Body'

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: 21 Grandview Ave., Worcester

How much: Free. Reservations recommended. Call (508) 756-7816.


CUTLINE: Lily Goodman had her first role when she was 5 years old, in a Calliope Productions presentation of "Scrooge."
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Title Annotation:LIVING
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 8, 2009
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