The Guthrie Theatre’s performance of the social comedy, Born Yesterday, offered a breath of fresh air during the holiday season. The show featured an excellent cast, as well as a drop dead, out of this world set. John Miller-Stephany’s version of the infamous period play proved to be a success, but not without some minor imperfections.
The play centered around Billie Dawn, played by Alexis Bronkovic. She is the beautiful, longterm, girlfriend of the gross, pin stripe wearing mobster persona, Harry Brock. Brock, played by Jeff Stills, travels to D.C. with business interests. His goal is to make more connections with government officials. By achieving these acquaintances, he hopes to gain monetary advantages. Brock feels as though Billie is too ignorant when it comes to conversing with the affluent class of Washington. He hires Paul Verrall, played by John Patrick Hayden, to supposedly “enlighten” Billie on the culture of the upper class. In the end, the two fall in love, and Billie becomes more educated than anyone ever expected her to be.
The actions and interactions of the characters were found to be quite interesting. The audience appeared to laugh for all sorts of differing reasons. Throughout the show, ridiculousness, severe exaggeration, and uncomfortable tensions all brought laughs.
Stills sometimes created real stresses in the theatre. He verbally abused just about the whole cast, especially Bronkovic. Sometimes the show seemed to take the form of a tragedy by how she is treated by him. This feeling severely took from the comedic feel of the performance.
Further, it was hard to believe Hayden and Bronkovic could possibly be in love, with the lack of romantic chemistry between the two. The physical motions of Hayden portrayed a real detachment from the love interest.
On a positive note, Todd Rosenthal, the scenic designer, decks out the entire set with gorgeous items of the post war period. A ginormous shimmering chandelier hovered over a baby grand piano. The single room also featured a beautiful spiral staircase, a cozy fireplace, giant oriental rugs, and countless upper scale furniture of the era. By far the most interesting aspect of the set was the giant bay window. The spectacular frame into nature over the course of the performance, was very entertaining to gaze at. As the seasons changed, so did the objects raining down outside. Always including the capital building in the background, autumn leaves, as well as snow, fell in the forefront to create a differing ambiance to each act.
Also playing at the Guthrie was the traditional show of A Christmas Carol. Born Yesterday, offered a different genre of entertainment for those Scrooges who wanted to escape the hectic time of Christmas for just a little longer.
All in all, Born Yesterday was worth the trip, but sometimes lacked flow and many laughs. For a comedy, the show was quite barren with punch lines, as well as a comedic mood.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on December 3, 2013 12:50 PM.
Elf the Musical - Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago IL was the previous entry in this blog.
Peter Pan - Duluth Playhouse is the next entry in this blog.
Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.