Kedar K. Adour

Performing Arts Reviews

Born Yesterday a smash hit at SF Playhouse

Harry Brock (Michael Torres*) and Eddie Brock (Gabriel Montoya) threaten Billie Dawn (Millie Brooks*) and Paul Verrall (Jason Kapoor*) as Ed Devery (Anthony Fusco*) looks on

BORN YESTERDAY: Comedy. By Garson Kanin. Directed by Susi Damilano. SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE, 450 Post Street, San Francisco, 2nd Floor of the Kensington Park Hotel. 415-677-9596, or www.sfplayhouse.org.  January 23 – March 10, 2018.

Born Yesterday a smash hit at SF Playhouse Rating: ★★★★★

Born Yesterday is as cogent today as it was when it opened on Broadway 71 years ago. It is a stinging comment on the influence of money on politics that is the subject of every day news stories. Under the astute direction of Susi Damilano the superb cast earned a well-deserved standing ovation.

The play is best known for its 1950 movie in which Judy Holliday won an Oscar for the role she originated on Broadway. Since 1946 Born Yesterday has had two major revivals on Broadway and locally in 2016 Center Rep had a very successful run in Walnut Creek.

Author Garson Kanin has balanced the comedy while giving a lesson of the value of education to overcome political corruption in one specific setting. That setting is Washington, D.C. where Harry Brock a junkyard entrepreneur has come to “buy” a corrupt Senator to gain passage of a bill that will make the junkyard business thrive. Harry brings along his slightly educated girlfriend, Billie Holiday whose social graces are embarrassing. Paul Verrall, a local journalist is hired to educate Billie and the outcome is not good for Harry.

Much of the comedy is generated by Millie Brooks’ superb nuances of Billie with a street smart demeanor, raspy voice and quick learning ability. Although she is the star of the show Michael Torres as Harry Brock often dominates the stage with his booming voice and brutish manners demanding subservience to those around him. Anthony Fusco as Harry’s corrupt lawyer gives a strong performance with the servility demanded by Harry maintaining control of intricate legalities while attempting to keep Billie in line.

It is a pleasure to welcome back Louis Parnell to the SF Playhouse. He gives verisimilitude to the pompous corrupt Senator Hedges and maintains a dignity that hides his perfidiousness that takes a big hit when late in the show Billie declaims: “Who voted for him?”

There is a cast of 10 with some of the secondary roles being doubled and the spacious 2 story elegant set with a semi-spiral staircase allows director Damilano to keep the action moving yet create intimate scenes when needed.

Reams could be written about the timeliness of this marvelous play but that is hardly the reason to attend a performance. You may not forget Judy Holliday’s performance as Billie opposite Broderick Crawford’s Harry from the 1950 award winning movie but this production with a few minor caveats is a winner all the way.

MAIN CAST:  Millie Brooks, Billie Dawn; Michael Torres, Harry Brock;  Anthony Fusco, Ed Devery;  Gabriel Montoya, Eddie Brock;  Jason Kapoor, Paul Verrall; Louis Parnell, Sen. Norm Hedges and Terry Bamberger, Mrs. Hedges.

CREATIVE TEAM: Director,Susi Damilano; Scenic Designer, Jacquelyn Scott; Costume Designer, Abra Berman; Sound Designer, Theodore J.H. Hulsker; Lighting Designer, Michael Oesch; Properties Designer, Jacquelyn Scott; Projections Designer, Theodore J.H. Hulsker; Stage Manager, Beth Hall; Casting, Lauren English & Bebe La Grua.

Running time is two hours and 30 minutes with one intermission and a short blackout between act two and three. Highly recommended.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

Harry Brock (Michael Torres*) and Eddie Brock (Gabriel Montoya) threaten Billie Dawn (Millie Brooks*) and Paul Verrall (Jason Kapoor*) as Ed Devery (Anthony Fusco*) looks on

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