70 Years And It’s Still Politics As Usual As Rep Closes Season With “Born Yesterday”

born-blackeddie

Andy Prosky as Harry, Randy Donaldson as Eddie and Aaron Bratz as Paul in “Born Yesterday” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

As sparkling and witty as it was in 1948, Garson Kanin’s “Born Yesterday” could have been ripped from today’s headlines. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis has brought it back and it’s a perfect way to close the season. Gee, a business giant (in this case a junk tycoon) strolls into Washington DC to influence congressmen to sway legislation toward his advantage. Things have only taken a turn for the worse in today’s politically charged environment with the basic story of greed and corruption but this time with a lively twist.

born-sen:billie

Kurt Zischke as Senator Hedges and Ruth Pferdehirt as Billie in the Rep production of “Born Yesterday.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Blowhard Harry Brock is played with proper bluster and shamelessness by Andy Prosky. He thinks money can convince anyone to do what he says and he’s usually right. The fly in his proverbial ointment is his sassy blonde girlfriend, Billie Dawn, played with a perfectly ditzy bravado by Ruth Pferdehirt. Harry agrees to meet with a member of the press Paul Verall- played with a smooth and candid style by Aaron Bartz. When Harry decides to pay him to instruct Billie in social skills and to improve her brain, he unleashes a monster that can never to back to her role as the docile ex-showgirl.

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Ted Deasy as Ed and Ruth Pferdehirt as Billie in “Born Yesterday” at the Rep. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Ted Deasy is the smooth lawyer who makes sure Billie signs a bunch of papers on an almost daily basis that protects Harry’s interests by “diversifying” his portfolio. He finally begins to question his position as well and gets the stirring curtain speech which we’ve seen repeated in one form or another in “politics as usual” situations for the past 70 years. One of the senators that Harry attempts to schmooz on his arrival to Washington is Norval Hedges, played with above board integrity by Kurt Zischke. His wife, played by Gina Daniels, also has some positive influence on the new and improved Billie.

born-harry:billie

Andy Prosky as Harry tries to reason with the “new” Billie played by Ruth Pferdehirt a the Rep’s production of “Born Yesterday.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Harry’s right hand man and “muscle” is played with aplomb by Randy Donaldson. The  rest of the cast is peppered with other actors familiar to the Rep including the versatile Michelle Hand. It’s a wonderful ensemble who play everything from bellhops to assistant managers to bootblacks and barbers and manicurists. They make for a typical zany group that is synonymous  with the screwball comedies of the 40’s.

born-harry:paul

Andy Prosky as Harry offers a new job to Paul, played by Aaron Bartz in “Born Yesterday” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Director Pamela Hunt has brought that looney tunes feel to this period piece and it works so well as it rings true for the same world of political intrigue that we regretfully still have today. The James Morgan set design is simply stunning. All the amenities of a luxury  DC hotel of 1948 are there and the whole piece is lit with style as well by lighting designer Mary Jo Dondlinger. Lou Bird’s costumes are perfect including several stylish dresses for Billie and Rusty Wandall has provided excellent sound design including some nostalgic music to set the mood.

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Aaron Bartz as Paul gets closer with Ruth Pferdehirt as Billie in the Rep production of “Born Yesterday.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

TCM has been showing the classic film lately starring Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford and William Holden but this current version at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is phenomenal and live! Don’t miss “Born Yesterday” as it provides laughs, nostalgia and current events rolled into one powerful package. It plays through April 8th and you can call 314-968-4925 for tickets or more information.

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