Imagine this: A powerful self-made man with more money than he can ever spend, with a warped, one-track ego the size of New Jersey, an intellect perhaps not as big, and a super sexy "dumb bimbo," trophy-girl on his arm. Now, imagine that they’re headed to Washington, D.C. to buy their way to more power.
Let that image simmer for a moment.
I am talking about the Height’s Player’s production of Garson Kanin’s 1945 play, BORN YESTERDAY, directed by Heights Player’s president, Ed Healey, which opened this past Friday at the John Bourne Theater in Brooklyn Heights.
Harry Brock (played by Joe Pacifico) is best
described as very rich and uncouth. He’s a loaded junk dealer from New Jersey who toughed it out from a young age to become the cigar chomping wealthy bully who gets what he wants, and is constantly reminding everyone how he got there. Not all that smart, but certainly driven and ambitious (and shall we say, greedy), he gives off the aura of a tough guy, but in actuality, he’s just another bully trying to buy his way through Washington, D.C. He has a Senator (David Mackler as Sen. Norval Hedges) in his pocket, a small entourage of sycophants who do his bidding, and stays in an ostentatious hotel suite that he hopes will impress anyone he happens to meet along the way. The only problem is that his lovely eye-candy of a girl, a former showgirl, Billie Dawn (Irina Kaplan), appears even dumber than him, and lacks the style and finesse needed to help impress his new, politically connected friends. A liability to him and his mission, Brock hires a journalist, Paul Verrall (David Guzzone), to educate Billie and fix his problem. But it doesn't take long for Billie to realize that Harry is not only corrupt, but using her in more ways than she realized.
In a revealing way, many things haven’t change in that swamp. That’s one of the more interesting aspects of this script, which is funny, fast, and has some great moments you won’t forget…not to mention quotable passages that you’re going to want to jot down for Facebook someday soon. Beautifully directed and staged by the Heights Players, the Brooklyn Heights theatre company celebrating 62 years, the story is engaging and the characters are great fun to watch, especially three of the central characters, Harry, Billie, and Paul.
As Harry Brock, Joe Pacifico does a great job bulldozing his way through this story of greed, at times almost charming, but mostly intimidating and sloppy, drinking, smoking and yelling his way through any resistance. Everyone seems to accept his ways because in a town like D.C. money talks and everything else… follows. Pacifico nails it. Brusk, intimidating, and with almost a man/child quality that just doesn’t “get” what's happening around him, he is memorable in this role. He has a great cast to work with and he connects beautifully with all of them. As the reporter, Paul, offers exactly the counter-balance needed to make Harry and Billie come to life. Actor Guzzone is natural, real, and believable as a 1940’s reporter who falls for Billie and could put a wrench in Harry’s plans. Guzzone’s delivery style and characterization is everything you would expect.
As the perhaps not-so-dumb bimbo, Billie, Irina Kaplan is sensational, hilarious at times, taking over the entire stage by simply entering and giving us one of her many, very funny expressions, or by shooting off a great line or two with perfect timing. Kaplan is a funny comedienne, and she is at her best when Billie begins to realize that real strength comes with knowledge and not pure brawn. Never losing her charm, she relishes in her new found knowledge.
Overall the cast is spot on, with some noticeable portrayals by the lawyer, Ed Devery (sound, believable performance by David Shakopi), Harry’s sidekick, Eddie Brock (Harry Bainbridge), and a charming Samantha Coppola as the maid, Helen. Peggy Willens as the Senator’s wife, Susan Bucci and Bunny Bosco round off the ensemble.
Excellent direction and staging by director Ed Healey and SM, Corrine Contrino deserve notice. The sets (no surprise here) by Gary Vanderputten, with a view in the distance of the White House, are perfect and put you in a believable 1940's suite. The costumes by James Martinelli are beautiful! Ladies, look to Billie from some stylish 40’s looks if you are into that retro thing. Overall, the production quality was impressive, the show funny and entertaining, and certainly worth a night out having dinner on Atlantic Avenue and making a theatre night out of it.
The shows runs at the Heights Players John Bourne Theater until October 22nd with 8PM curtains on Friday, Saturday, and a 2PM matinee on Sundays. The theater is located at 26 Willow Place.
There are three ways to get tickets, Buy online now at BrownPaperTickets.com (click HERE) or Call: 718-237-2752 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.
quite impressive, the show funny and entertaining, and certainly worth a night out having dinner on Atlantic and making a night out of it.