Asolo Concludes Washington Trilogy with "Born Yesterday"

Theater

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING WEDNESDAY FEB 8, 2017

Asolo Repertory Theatre unveils the final production in what some backstage are affectionately dubbing the “Washington Trilogy” with tonight’s opening of Garson Kanin’s political comedy Born Yesterday. First a Broadway play and then an Oscar-winning film, it’s My Fair Lady meets House of Cards when ex-showgirl Billie Dawn gets dragged to Washington, DC so her business magnate boyfriend, Harry Brock, can take advantage of a corrupt senator. But when seemingly simple Dawn begins to embarrass Brock and he hires a DC journalist to give her rough edges a polish, he awakens a startling adversary. Directed by Asolo Rep regular Peter Amster, Born Yesterday opens tonight and runs through April 15.

Alongside Richard Schenkkan’s The Great Society and John Strand’s The Originalist (both still currently onstage at the Asolo), Born Yesterday will be the third show of this final season of the American Character Project to take place within the halls of power in Washington, DC, hence the nickname. And with its focus on the corrupting influence of business on politics and the importance of a vigilant citizenry, Amster says it couldn’t be a more timely addition. “Plays change when times change,” he says. “It seems to me that this play is much more poignant and has much more to say than it did even eight years ago.”

But such timeliness is not partisan, Amster is quick to add—with the programming planned long in advance as well—but a testament to the greatness and resonance of Kanin’s work and how it can speak to multiple issues at once. “If the election had come out differently, it would be telling a slightly different story than it is now,” he says, “possibly more about women’s empowerment than the importance of being an alert citizen.” Words and stories find their own relevance in the climate of the times and the temperature of the room. Either way, Amster says, Born Yesterday is less about which side of the political aisle one is on and more about the importance of engagement. “It’s more dangerous if you don’t care,” he says.

Looking to opening night, Amster promises a fresh take on the theater classic, with a lead performance he calls “brilliant” from Christina DeCicco and an “absolutely spectacular” production design from the same team that brought Living On Love to the Asolo stage last year. “You can’t think of it as an old play,” he says. “Think of it as a brand new play, every time.”

Born Yesterday opens tonight at Asolo Repertory Theatre and runs through April 15.

Pictured: Christina DeCicco and Christopher Kelly in "Born Yesterday." Photo by John Revisky.

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