By Myra Chanin . . .

time stops—the title should be in all-caps followed by a queue of !!!s—which recently premiered at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse would have filled Marshall E. “Doc” and his wife Vera Lea “Petey” Rinker with joy. “Doc” and Petey” arrived in Florida in 1925 at age 21 in a $500 dollar truck and an unrelenting work ethic. Their arrival came at the perfect time for a masonry material start-up which, for sixty something years, poured the foundations of Disney World, Epcot, military bases, shopping malls, towering office buildings and condominiums. In 1988, it was a behemoth enterprise with 2300 employees and generating $300 million in annual sales when Rinker sold the company for mucho million simoleons and chose to use a substantial portion of his money to make a difference in the lives of others.

The Company of time stops

His mantra? “Money is only a thing to make the world better.” His millions established the Rinker School of Business at the Palm Beach Atlantic College; and his largess also impacted the local arts scene when his cool million-dollar contribution allowed the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts to establish the Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. Playhouse where Rinker, Sr. himself celebrated his 90th birthday. And it was where I just spent a perfectly wonderful afternoon.

The intimate theater seats 285 and was almost full. Remember, it’s the off-season when the snowbirds have flown the coop. Scenic designer Andrew Mannion created a simple but flexible set that opens in a restaurant called Charlie’s Place: a bar in the center, an upright piano stage right, a table with several chairs, stage left. The substantial pieces are easily shifted here and there, to and fro. So, the staging presents different vistas.

Alan Chandler and Evan Fagin

time stops is about the secrets between three couples, each pair trying to work out their differences about a different trauma: 

Couple #1: Steven (Alan Chandler) is a songwriter who disparagingly describes himself as “A One Hit Wonder.” He’s married to Ben (Evan Fagin), a kind sociologist who, much more than Ben, longs to start their family with the aid of a surrogate.

Couple #2: Maxwell (James McClellan), a theater owner who was forced to suddenly shut down his venue while his unsuspecting partner, Gayle (Ashley Wilcox), was directing a play upon which she was lavishing money, ignorant about Maxwell’s true financial situation. 

Couple #3: Restaurateur Charlie (Armand Lane) and award-winning Playwright Emma (Maria Goodman) have the worst problem. They are sharing their grief and coping with the unexpected, accidental death of their daughter, an only child. Emma waits for moments when time seems to stop, and she feels the spirit of her daughter is once again actually in the room. 

Each one of the above couples is superbly presented, and very, very likable and endearing. 

Maria Goodman

When Emma and Steven decide to write a musical together, Emma pours all her grief and longing into a narrative that revives her dead child and shows the girl the life she might have had, had she lived.

Everybody in the audience seemed delighted by the melodic, rhythmic tunes and clever lyrics supplied by Brett Boles, and responded to Bonnie Logan’s touching, non-sentimental but very “real people-solving real problems” script. Not a single word she wrote made my brain or eardrums cringe. All of the performers were first rate, with impressive professional credits. They were a sweet and lovely blend of local Florida Honeybells and Big Apple audition acers. Thanks to Chad Larabee’s superb direction, they all performed with feeling and brio, making the production moving but never schmaltzy.

Armand Lane and Maria Goodman

As for the creative crew, I’m sure they will all soon be Broadway-bound. Jim Morgan at the York Theater, listen to what I’m saying. This musical belongs in your theater. If you see Bonnie Logan name on any list of theatrical credits, get a ticket for whatever it is. She has just started her playwriting career and it’s based on many years of astutely observing what people say, feel and how they behave. Maria Goodman is an extraordinary performer. She has an extensive vocal range, a strong delivery and a remarkable and commandingly fluid stage presence.

As I was leaving, I asked a few theatergoers sitting near us how they felt about time stops. They all gave it thumbs up reviews. But the most impressive review came from my +1, my husband Alvin, that long suffering saint. He sat straight up, wide awake and totally attentive throughout the entire three-hour performance. What’s so wonderful about that? A few days earlier he fell asleep at the Metropolitan Opera’s dazzling Merry Widow, during the duet between Rhonda Fleming and Kelli O’Hara, and walked out on $1.1 billion grossing Top Gun: Maverick. With Alvin, a five-star review  . . . you’ll know it when you see it. It includes him staying put and wide awake.

time stops. Premiered July 15 and ran through July 17 at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, Florida). Additional performances TBD.