‘Born Yesterday’ entertains, but misses the current connection

Dec. 7, 2015

Eleanor Sturt
esturt@uccs.edu

3/5 stars

THEATREWORKS’ “Born Yesterday” is a thought-provoking comedy, highly sustained by political commentary and interrupted with moments of polite, comedic relief. The show, however, did not reach high hopes, as it failed to connect to current audiences.

The play, written by Garson Kanin, first premiered in 1946, and was then adapted to a movie in 1950 which led to a remake in 1993. The show also had a Broadway revival in 1989 and then again in 2011.

At the time of its premier, America was still finding its footing after World War II. Political tension was high and concepts like the American dream were becoming more popular, especially in women who had gained some strength during the war.

“Born Yesterday” follows the clueless, ex-chorus girl Billie Dawn (Carley Cornelius) after she moves to Washington, D.C. with her lover, Harry Brock (Thomas Borrillo).

Harry makes the mistake of hiring a writer, Paul Vaerrall (Michael Gonring), to make Billie appear smarter in front of his more respectable guests.

Initially, Billie tries to attract the attention of Paul by reading books, but she begins to want to become educated, and continues to read dozens of books and newspapers, expanding her vocabulary and learning to “speak good.”

The play takes a while before it hits full swing, introducing the characters and the situation a little late in the show. But the characters, once introduced, were enjoyable, especially when it came to the relationship between the aspiring Billie and attentive Paul.

Gonring and Cornelius played off of each other excellently, showing Paul’s passion for education and Billie’s desire to learn, even it means changing her perception of Harry. The leads did an excellent job portraying the characters in a humorous, yet realistic way, leading to a smooth and carefree performance.

The sleazy, yet somehow charismatic Harry was played by the excellent Thomas Borrillo, who did an exceptionally good job of making the audience feel initially torn between his idea of the American dream and Billie’s.

As the play continues, it becomes a little darker, and the audience really begins to get an idea of just how illegal his line of work is, making his character change from charismatic to menacing.

The set was captivating, with chandeliers, checkerboard flooring and tall, teal walls. It was an enchanting set giving the audience an idea of the luxurious life Harry and Billie were used to.

Costuming was well suited, especially when it came to Harry. He could change from well-dressed to rudely casual in a matter of seconds, often being displayed on stage as he slung off his jacket and kicked off his shoes.

Billie’s range in 1940’s style also gave the show a flamboyant flair, contributing to her original nonchalant character in the first act of the show.

Placed in such a politically significant time, “Born Yesterday” relies heavily on the political opinion of a “less talk,more do” attitude. At the time of its release, it was very relevant. Now? Perhaps not.

THEATREWORKS’ rendition of “Born Yesterday” stayed true to the scripts original intentions, but sadly did not strike home with current audiences. In any case, it was an enjoyable comedy, sure to bring a little laughter to the holiday season.

All THEATREWORKS’ shows are free to UCCS students who have a ticket. Decide what you think of the show yourself and book tickets online at www.theatreworkscs.org.