‘Born Yesterday’ lessons ring true today
Justine Klein in "Born Yesterday"
Big Noise Theatre Company, Prairie Lakes Community Center Theatre, 515 E. Thacker St., Des Plaines
8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, Jan. 18-Feb. 3; no 3 p.m. show Jan. 19
$25 for adults, $23 for seniors/students
(847) 604-0275 or www.bignoise.org
Updated: January 22, 2013 1:15PM
“Born Yesterday,” says Catherine Davis of Northbrook, is very much a show for today.
As director of the Big Noise Theatre’s upcoming production of “Born Yesterday,” she believes that the story appeals on many levels to a contemporary audience.
Garson Kanin’s play, first performed on Broadway in 1946 and made into Hollywood films in 1950 and 1993, tells the story of Billie Dawn, an unsophisticated girlfriend of mogul Harry Brock, who learns how he operates and then applies those lessons to her own life.
Paul Douglas and Judy Holliday starred in the original Broadway production. The 1950 film, starring Holliday and William Holden, was selected in 2012 for inclusion in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Elements of the story make it timeless and relevant for today’s audiences. “One of the things that appeals is the universal theme of right over might both on a personal level and on a political level,” Davis says. “It’s also about relationships and growth and what someone will tolerate in those relationships.”
Because the play grew out of the immediate post-World War II era, “some of the language and phrases you certainly won’t hear today,” Davis points out. “There are some things that date the story a little bit. But the moralistic themes make the story relevant to today’s audience.”
The cast features Justine Klein as Billie Dawn. A Grand Rapids, Mich.-native Klein now lives in Chicago, and is excited about the role. “In many ways Billie has some attributes that I would like to see in myself,” Klein said. “She moves through life without fear and has a love for learning. When she realizes what is going on and wants something different, she doesn’t hesitate to make those changes. I certainly would like to fear less of change.”
Klein first saw the movie about three years ago and said that the chance to play Billie Dawn fulfills a career goal.
“I just love the character,” she said. “She is sort of sweet but has a lot of balls. I like the character, so it is a big challenge to convey her as she grows through the story. When I saw there was a chance to play her, I had to take the chance and audition.”
Other North Shore actors in “Born Yesterday” are Ross Currie of Evanston, Brian Parry of Skokie and Mary Campbell of Northbrook. The Big Noise Theatre Company is a division of the Winnetka Theatre.