Likewise for Eleanor O’Brien, as the delightfully demented kleptomaniac Dink, until a plot device cuts her onscreen time in favor of the developing relationship between Donna and street-tough Carmen (Teresa DiSpina).
Framed by the promise that Donna’s one-year sentence could be reduced if she runs on the reform school’s track team, as the wickedly slick headmistress Mrs. Turnbull (Carolyn Seymour) offers, Donna embarks on a training program that reduces her stress and aids her self-esteem.
But by show’s end, Donna heeds Carmen’s advice not to take favors because of the payback, and chooses not to be a pawn in Turnbull’s game.
DiSpina’s work is first-rate, believably alternating between worldly thug and sensitive teen, fraught with sexual tension.
Helmer Jonathan Kaplan taps his expertise in guiding female leads into delivering strong perfs, clearly giving Graham, DiSpina and Seymour plenty of creative leash that belies the otherwise lackluster scripting.