Ghostlight Theatre’s ‘Good Grief: A Best Friend Play’ opens this weekend, just in time for Black History Month


STATEN ISLAND, NY – The Ghostlight Theater Players will kick off its second production of its 2022 season with the Staten Island premiere of Ngozi Anyanwu’s “Good Grief: A Best Friend Play.” The play, directed by Mayah Lourdes Burke, should not be confused with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, “Good Grief.” This tender production is rather centered on the loss at an early age.

The show is scheduled for Thursday February 10 to Sunday February 20 at Hemsley Hall at 4 Arthur Kill Rd. inside the parish house of St. Andrew’s Church.

The plot revolves around Nkechi, a well-rounded black girl. She did everything right. She went to medical school. She made plans. But then, as they say, life happened. And his plans have changed.

A journey of love, loss and coming of age for the first generation, “Good Grief” follows Nkechi as she explores suburban Pennsylvania alongside her childhood crush, her philosopher brother and his immigrant parents.

“During the pandemic, I started reading as many plays as I could find from African-American writers,” Lourdes Burke said. “Being an African-American woman myself, I was especially interested in new work from the African-American community because there are so many current issues that have come up. I pitched the piece to Ghostlight and was glad they want to feature it this season.

Left to right, Will Simancas as MJG and Giesala Jacques as Nkechi. (Courtesy of Charles Sullivan) Staten Island Advance

She explained that “Good Grief” is a beautiful piece that really showcases some of the talent on the island that doesn’t usually get those kinds of performance opportunities or telling their stories.

“The best thing about ‘Good Grief,’ especially during pandemic grief, is what brings us together as a community. This is a play that does not focus on black trauma but on black healing.

The cast of Ghostlight includes Giesala Jacques as Nkechi, Will Simancas as MJG, Fatou Thiam as NeNe, Javan Zapata as Papa, Davion Osbourne as Bro, Christopher Leon Celaya as JD, Rina Sklar as MJ’s Mom/Neighbour’s Mom.

“Good Grief: A Best Friend Play” premiered in Los Angeles. The Vineyard Theater presented its New York debut in October 2018.

Ghostlight’s production sets are designed by Ken Tirado. Nick Meittinis is in charge of the lighting, Mayah Lourdes Burke of the sound and Justin Giachetti of the costumes. Charles Murria is assistant director and Kayla Goldfarb is production manager.

Spectators are required to present their vaccination card at the ticket office.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinee on Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20. Limited places available. Tickets are available at


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