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Prince George’s Little Theatre Born Yesterday

By • Sep 18th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin
Prince George’s Little Theatre
Bowie Playhouse, Bowie, MD
Through October 1st
2:20 with one intermission
$19/$14 Seniors and Youth
Reviewed September 17th, 2011

Born Yesterday is a comedy in two acts. Written and taking place in 1946, it’s the story of a crooked businessman trying to buy a senator. Sound familiar? The businessman’s mistress is a little rough around the edges so he hires a reporter to “smooth her out.” The two fall in love and Billie Dawn begins to realize there is more to life than making money and begins to see the politician, Harry Brock, for who he really is.

Born Yesterday may simply be a show that did not age well; its slow pacing made this performance seem to drag. Director Norma Ozur listed in her director’s note how things were priced and which new gadgets and technologies came out in 1946. That’s interesting, but Born Yesterday shows that even though some things have changed in the past 65 years, politicians haven’t.

Harry Brock, the junkyard tycoon who has arrived in Washington to “buy” himself a senator, was played by Sandy Irving. Irving managed to come across pretty believably as a real schmuck. His brash, overbearing way made even the tough guys tremble. Brock genuinely loved Billie, despite his rough edges. His mistress Billie Dawn was played by Mary Koster. Koster was uncouth in the first act and managed to cause the tycoon to feel the need to educate her on life in Washington DC. Koster’s no-nonsense earthy attitude was charming to watch.

Richard Koster as Paul Verrall, Billie’s tutor, started out very stiff at the beginning of the show. He was simply intimidated by Brock’s staff and reputation. By the second act, R. Koster was much more relaxed as he grew to love Billie. Senator Norval Hedges was a crafty but likable veteran of the Washington political game. Played by Edd Miller he was down to earth and very comfortable with the corrupt life in Washington. All of Brocks’s henchmen were chilly and their one emotion seemed to be annoyance.

Watching Billie grow under Paul’s tutelage was rewarding, even as she struggled to understand what she was being taught. The closing scene shows a lot of action, including a bit of unexpected violence, although the final resolution feels unsatisfying.

Set Designer Dan Lavagna created an elaborate two-level DC hotel suite, complete with a view of the U.S. Capitol. The hotel room’s main door on stage right occasionally created a scrum if someone was on the phone, and someone was fixing a drink, and people were entering or exiting the room. It may have been more interesting to put a little more distance between the bar and the front door. Linda Swann’s costumes were flashy, with Billie Dawn appearing in several glitzy outfits throughout the evening.

The basic plot of Born Yesterday (a na├»ve outsider appears in Washington DC and tries to fix things) evokes the story of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Maybe we’re simply too jaded now, but the light-hearted humor of Born Yesterday doesn’t quite compensate for its somewhat dated plot with slow pacing.

A Note From the Director

Born Yesterday is a fairy tale. It’s got the usual hero and heroine and villain(s). it may even have the usual happy ending. This one is different, however, in that it takes place in the not-so-distant past. It’s a past that some here today remember and some may have heard about from parents and grandparents. It’s a bit different from today.

It’s 1946 in the US. We’re a year away from a devastating war that united the nation at a great cost of lives. Gas cost 21 cents a gallon. Truman is in the White House. A New car costs on average $1,120. The first telecast of a baseball game (Chicago: Cards vs. Cubs) takes place. AT&T announces the first car phones. Born Yesterday opens on Broadway. Men’s ties are $1.50. Nehru forms a government in India. A stamp is 3 cents. The CIA is set up by President Truman. A movie ticket cost 55 cents. The U.S. detonates two atom bombs at Bikini Atoll and bikini bathing suits make their debut. Bread is 10 cents a loaf and eggs are 59 cents a dozen. The United Nations convenes in London and the Security Council holds its first meeting. The average annual income is $2600. EINIAC, the first computer, is introduced. The guilty Nazi war criminals are hanged. Weight Watchers is formed. Ground beef costs 28 cents/lb. and milk is 70 cents/gallon.

Different time indeed. But people are not much different. The good ones follow the laws and try to help right the wrongs. The bad ones, the selfish ones, are for themselves only and attempt to get what they want at others expense. Let’s go back to 1946 and meet both kinds. Enjoy!

Norma R. Ozur

Photo Gallery

Sandy Irving as Harry Brock, Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock, Richard Koster as Paul Verrall Edd Miller as Sen. Hedges, Dan Staicer as Ed Devery, Phyllis Kay as Mrs. Hedges, Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock, Mary Koster as Billie Dawn
Sandy Irving as Harry Brock, Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock, Richard Koster as Paul Verrall
Edd Miller as Sen. Hedges, Dan Staicer as Ed Devery, Phyllis Kay as Mrs. Hedges, Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock, Mary Koster as Billie Dawn
Mary Koster as Billie Dawn and Sandy Irving as Harry Brock playing gin Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock, Edd Miller as Sen Hedges, Mary Koster as Billie
Mary Koster as Billie Dawn and Sandy Irving as Harry Brock playing gin
Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock, Edd Miller as Sen Hedges, Mary Koster as Billie
Dan Staicer as Ed Devery, Richard Koster as Paul Verrall, Mary Koster as Billie, Sandy Irving as Harry, Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock
Dan Staicer as Ed Devery, Richard Koster as Paul Verrall, Mary Koster as Billie, Sandy Irving as Harry, Tom Schneider as Eddie Brock

Photos by Bud Johnson

Cast

  • Paul Verrall: Richard Koster
  • Helen, a Maid: Rachel Howell
  • A Bellhop: Eddie Arredondo
  • Eddie Brock: Tom Schneider
  • Harry Brock: Sandy Irving
  • Assistant Manager: Ken Kienas
  • Billie Dawn: Mary Koster
  • Ed Devery: Dan Staicer
  • A Barber: Ken Kienas
  • A Manacurist: Leona Powell
  • Senator Norval Hedges: Edd Miller
  • Mrs. Anna Hedges

Production Team

  • Director: Norma Ozur
  • Producer: Keith Brown
  • Assistant Director: William Powell, Jr.
  • Stage Manager: Cynthia Bentley
  • Set Design: Dan Lavanga
  • Set Construction, Master Carpenter: Dan Lavanga
  • Assisted by: Cast, Crew, Members and friends of PGLT
  • Set Pre-Set Construction: Eddie Arredondo, Richard Koster, Roger Paradis, Patrick Ready
  • Set Painting Design: Mary Koster, Roy Peterson, Heather Quinn
  • Set Decoration/Dressing: Mary Koster, Roy Peterson, Heather Quinn
  • Lighting Design: Garrett Hyde
  • Sound Design: Dennis Giblin, Steve Kramer
  • Properties: Carolyn Cornelius
  • Costume Design: Linda Swann
  • Bowie Playhouse Technicians: Al Chopey, pet Dursin, Garrett Hyde, Wally Kleinfelder
  • Transportation Chief, Front of House Coordinator, House Manager: Keith Brown
  • Box Office: Roy Peterson, Linda Smith
  • Box Office Reservations: Sarah Potter Robbins
  • Box Office Reservation Assistant: Richard Robbins
  • Ticket Takers/Ushers: Members and Friends of PGLT
  • Publicity: Jenna Jones, Roy Peterson, Linda Smith
  • Web Site (www.pglt.org): Kristofer Northrup, Pamela Northrup
  • Photography: Kristofer Northrup
  • Playbill Design: Roy Peterson
  • Program Cover/Publicity Artwork: Michele Stinson

Disclaimer: Prince George’s Little Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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