BWW Review: BORN YESTERDAY at Ford's Theatre

BWW Review: BORN YESTERDAY at Ford's Theatre

The most remarkable part of Ford Theatre's production of "Born Yesterday" may not be the superb performances or the sharp-tongued humor, but the unsettling realization that this 1946 comedy feels much like present-day Washington, D.C.

Garson Kanin's 72-year-old play tells the story of Harry Brock, an arrogant, opportunistic businessman who arrives in Washington with his live-in showgirl, Billie Dawn, looking to buy influence over politics. However, he soon begins to view Billie's dimwitted demeanor as a liability to his plans and hires an earnest reporter named Paul Verrall to educate Billie and help her 'fit in.' With Paul's help, Billie learns about history, democracy and her own powerful voice, and together they fight against Harry's corrupt ways.

Director Aaron Posner did not have to update the play to make it feel relevant to modern day audiences. Upon walking into the theater, audience members are transported to a glamorous hotel room overlooking the U.S. Capitol in 1946 Washington but the arrogance, greed, sexism and idealism portrayed in the play's storylines feel as though it could happen in a glamorous hotel room in 2018 Washington.

Under Posner's direction, the remarkable cast brings these complex characters to life with vigor. No character is too small, and the ensemble cast members all deliver memorable performances. As for the show's leads, Edward Gero's extraordinary performance of Brock makes one feel momentarily sorry for the idiotic businessman, until the show's climax reminds the audience that Brock is an abusing, selfish bully. As the idealistic yet smug Paul, Cody Nickell shines, delivering each line with quick wit and a charming smile.

Yet the true star of the show is Kimberly Gilbert who dazzles as Billie Dawn. Whether she's reciting lines from the musical Anything Goes or standing up for herself against Brock's cruelty, Gilbert commands the stage. Costume designer Kelsey Hunt's marvelous outfits for Gilbert capture the essence of Billie's transformation from dimwitted showgirl to an educated, powerful woman.

People looking for an escape from politics may want to skip on this production. For everyone else, "Born Yesterday" is a powerful performance that provides hope that the power of the American people can trump corruption and evil.

"Born Yesterday" plays at Ford's Theatre (511 Tenth St., NW, Washington, DC) through October 21. The performance run time is about 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission. Tickets range from $17 to $64, and discounts are available for groups, senior citizens, military personnel and patrons younger than 35.

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From This Author Mina Radman

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