Benicia Old Town Theatre Group’s fall production is not only of one of Broadway’s longest running plays, it also has been made into both a classic 1950 movie starring Judy Holliday and William Holden and modernized in a 1993 film starring Melanie Griffith.
“Born Yesterday,” which has won awards during its Broadway runs, often is considered Playwright Garson Kanin’s best. It launches a season called “Benicia Old Town Theatre Group Goes To The Movies,” says Dyanne Vojvoda, the company’s spokesperson. Next in the season will be the spring 2020 production of the murder mystery “Laura.” “We used this theme for the Torchlight Parade this July 3, dressing up our 15-plus theater volunteers and decorated vehicle in 1940s costumes,” she said. “We won first place in our division – so proud and so much fun!”
“Born Yesterday” is a romantic comedy Kanin wrote in 1946. Starting his stage career as an actor, Kanin was soon directing Broadway plays. Besides his “Born Yesterday” screenplay, he wrote short stories and adapted many of them for television. In collaboration with his wife, Ruth Gordon, he wrote screenplays for a series of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy film comedies.
“Born Yesterday” tells the story of an unscrupulous egotistical junk millionaire, Harry Brock, who goes to an upscale Washington hotel to make some crooked deals with important government officials. He brings his girlfriend, a charming but naïve former chorus girl, Billie Dawn, but her lack of social graces causes plenty of embarrassment, even to Brock himself. Realizing Billie needs to fit better with Washington society, Brock hires a young, idealistic investigative magazine reporter, Paul Verrall, to educate her. Billie proves she’s a quick learner, which complicates Brock’s wheeling and dealing among the politicians in the nation’s capital.
“We are so delighted to have Carlene Coury back in the director seat,” says Vojvoda. Coury has directed both “Lost in Yonkers” and “Moon Over Buffalo,” two Solano County ARTY award-winning shows for the company. “Coincidentally they were both vintage, 1940-plus plays and romantic comedies.” Vojvoda continued. “Born Yesterday” has earned Tony and Derwent awards, and has been revived several times on Broadway, featuring such actors as Edward Asner, Madeline Kahn, Jim Belushi and Nina Arianda. “The appeal of this show to local and out of town visitors is enormous, it is a classic yet timely piece of work which transcends eras,” she says, adding that the screenplay has “lots of humor and fascinating characters from the iconic Billy Dawn to the mean and pushy Brock.” There’s even a touch of women empowerment that should resonate in these modern times.
Benicia Old Town Theatre Group performances are at the historic BDES Hall, 140 West J St. Tickets are available online at the website https://www.beniciaoldtowntheatregroup.com/ starting Sept. 1.
Curtains rise at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and the Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. The play runs from Oct. 18 to Nov. 9.
Tickets are $22 for adult general admission, $20 for those older than 62 and for students with valid identification.
Tickets to the opening night Champagne Gala Oct. 18 are $30 each.
Once again, those attending the play can arrange a “show and dinner” evening at Venticello Ristorante, 911 First St. For $45, theater goers can have a choice of soup or salad, one of three entrees and one of two dessert selections. Soft drinks are included. Alcoholic beverages and tips are additional.
While “show and dinner” tickets may be bought in advance through Benicia Old Town Theatre Group’s website, reservations at Venticello’s must be made separately, and need to be under the same name as is shown on the ticket purchase. The restaurant’s number is 707-747-5263.