If there is another amateur theater group whose sets elicit applause, I’d like to know where it is. The audience at the Westmoreland Players’ opening of “Born Yesterday” broke into applause as soon as the curtain opened Saturday night and it could see the play’s gorgeous set.
Janice Stewart’s set depicted a 1950s Washington DC hotel suite in bright peach with art deco trim on the walls. Anybody who stayed at a good hotel back then recognized the set as an authentic recreation of the things.
Born Yesterday, is a tale of how a ditzy blonde gets educated and realizes the crass and controlling older man with whom she has been keeping company is really a crook and gets him under her control. The tale is set in Washington DC where the man, a highly successful junk dealer has gone to buy a congressman.
Christina Thompson has the lead as Billie Dawn, the blonde. Al Hooker, who’d seen Judy Holiday’s Academy Award winning performance in the same role, said Thompson was every bit as good as Holiday was from her bimbo-whine to her hip-bumping walk. Dan Peters plays the crook, Harry Brock, with a self-centered belligerence that probably out does Broderick Crawford’s performance in the same role in the movie. He is a cad at whom the audience actually wants to hiss.
Between his size, acting, costume and make-up Michael Snider is spot on as a venal US Senator. He actually makes those of us old enough to think of Lyndon Johnson in his Senate days. John Bertrand is pitch perfect as the crook’s fixer of a lawyer. He also has some of the best lines. “Are you plastered again?” the crook asks him. “Still,” he responds as he pours another drink.
Sean Thompson, who looks remarkably like Gregory Peck except smaller in the play, portrays the good guy, the newsman hired to educate Billie Dawn. (In the movie, William Holden, not Peck, played the part.) He carries the role off with aplomb.
The supporting cast never misses a beat and Bev Mangan, as the maid, again demonstrates her scene stealing abilities with looks she shoots at the crook behind his back.
One member of the audience said the Players were “cheeky” in a good way to put on Born Yesterday since a good many in the audience thought the crook’s bombast was similar to that of Donald Trump.
Marcia Peters directs the show and Nancy Royal serves as producer.
The Players had a gala in the playhouse’s lobby before the play started.
Born Yesterday will run for the next two weekends through March 19. Tickets are available by calling 804-529-9345.