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"Born Yesterday" is Revived at the Cort Theatre
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"Born Yesterday" is Revived at the Cort Theatre

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Philip Morgaman, Anne Caruso,
Vincent Caruso, Frankie J. Grande,
et al.
Present:

Jim Belushi, Robert Sean Leonard, Nina Arianda
in
Born Yesterday
(Show Website)
a comedy by Garson Kanin

At the
Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

With
Frank Wood
Terry Beaver, Patricia Hodges, Michael McGrath,
Fred Arsenault, Bill Christ, Jennifer Regan,
Liv Rooth, Danny Rutigliano, Andrew Weems

Directed by Doug Hughes
Original Music/Sound Design: David Van Tieghem
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: Peter Kaczorowski
Hair/Wig Design: Tom Watson
Casting: Jay Binder/Jack Bowdan
Fight Director: J. David Brimmer
Production Stage Manager: Tripp Phillips
Press Representative: Richard Kornberg & Assoc.
Technical Supervisor: Larry Morley
Composer: Brig Berney
General Management:
Richards/Climan, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 11, 2011 Matinee


In one of the most entertaining shows on Broadway today, a star is born. Nina Arianda plays the brash, bubbly Billie Dawn, who was snatched from the chorus line by Harry Brock (Jim Belushi), who deals in scrap metal and sleazy politics. Ms. Arianda fills her glass to the brim with gin, talks like a retro moll in classic movies, wears lipstick like a fur coat, and wears a fur coat like a blanket, all over-emphasized and all over the top. She’s Brock’s girl, and he knows it. Trouble is, his power is only as strong as her obtuseness. When Brock impulsively hires Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard), a star investigative reporter, to teach language and refined manners to Billie, Brock’s power quickly recedes. Billie Act I is a bubbly dumb blonde. Billie Act II wears glasses, reads the paper, and studies the dictionary. Billie Act I is owned by Brock. Billie Act II seizes control of Brock’s fate and finances. Ms. Arianda, as Billie, is at times hilarious, poignant, endearing, cartoonish, and wily. Before she fully understands Brock’s devious and complex games, she places her trust in Paul, in her “research”, and in her anger at Brock’s violent willfulness.

In fact, Billie places more than her trust in Paul, as they begin an affair down the hall in a fancy 1946 Washington Hotel. Brock’s suite, lavishly decorated by John Lee Beatty, had a white silk-adorned, red fringed couch that I’d love to find in a collectable shop someday. The suite was filled with a floor-to-ceiling bar cabinet, gold-white-black, shiny surfaces, and elaborate wood carvings. It’s the juxtaposition of the lavish setting and Brock’s talk of scrap metal that sets the mind to imagine the behind the scenes machinations. Some of those machinations are disclosed when Senator Norval Hedges (Terry Beaver), with his wife, Mrs. Hedges (Patricia Hodges), in tow, arrives to make a deal for a Congressional bill with Brock, made easier by the contents of the floor-to-ceiling bar. Brock’s lawyer, Ed Devery (Frank Wood), is as slimy as they come. Mr. Wood played Roy Cohn in Angels in America earlier in the season, and many of the gestures and facial expressions were one and the same. Mr. Wood is quite the lawyer, who seems trapped by his paper trail, always maneuvering, calculating, dealing. Robert Sean Leonard, as the confident intellectual, is persuasive as he melts in Billie’s arms.

But it’s Jim Belushi, as the ruthless, resolute Harry Brock, who’s front and center with powerful presence. His cigar seems glued to his teeth, and when he loudly slaps down Billie, when she won’t sign his crooked documents, a gasp ran through the theater, as he turned menacing in the moment. Mr. Belushi eats the scenery every time he appears. All eyes are on him, with his ferocious bellows and thunderous roars. In a silk smoking jacket, that matches the couch, he’s the image of contradictions, as he swears like the construction guys who get his scrap metal. He’s a man stealing a style. Mr. Beaver as the Senator, and Ms. Hodges as his wife, are the essence of superficiality and hypocrisy, perfect foils for inside Washington politics. Catherine Zuber’s costumes are quintessential 40’s, with Mr. Belushi’s striped suit and suspenders looking swell. Ms. Arianda changes from feathery, black, open robe to conservative pants and modest shirt, as she transfigures in Pygmalion-like fashion. Tom Watson’s hair-wigs give Ms. Arianda and Ms. Hodges their iconic looks, whether the chorus-girl babe or the upscale Senator’s wife. Lighting and sound were perfect in this show. Doug Hughes directed for vaudevillian level humor, gestural timing, and character transformation. Kudos to all.



Jim Belushi and Nina Arianda
in "Born Yesterday"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Jim Belushi, Robert Sean Leonard,
Michael McGrath, Nina Arianda
in "Born Yesterday"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg


Liv Ruth, Jim Belushi, Bill Christ,
Danny Rutigliano, Frank Wood
in "Born Yesterday"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg





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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net