ETHS play, ‘Born Yesterday,’ goes back to the ’40s
Harry Thornton (Center), 15, plays the part of "Paul Verrallo" and Marty Leoni (Right), 16, is "Harry Brock" in Evanston Township High School's production of "Born Yesterday." The play opens Thursday, Feb. 14, and runs through the 16th. | Brian O'Mahoney~
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:43PM
EVANSTON — Although the Evanston Township High School production “Born Yesterday” was written in the 1940s, the play’s messages fit 2013 perfectly, said director Zachary Herrmann.
“So many themes are very relevant today,” Herrmann said. “I found it really timeless and was really struck by it.”
The play opens Thursday night and runs through Saturday at 7:30 nightly in the ETHS Upstairs Theatre. The 1946 Broadway creation, which became a film in 1950, was revived on Broadway in 1989 and 2011.
“I think when you see the play, it really could take place at seemingly any point in American history,” Herrmann said. “It deals with the function of government, capitalism, corruption, bribery. They’re all really timeless in American history.
In her 17th show at ETHS, senior Isabella Gerasole plays Billie Dawn, the seemingly dim-witted showgirl mistress of corrupt junk dealer Harry Brock, played by sophomore Marty Leoni.
“The key word is seemingly,” Gerasole said. “She’s been told her whole life that she’s stupid and she accepted it. In her awakening with Paul, a reporter, she finds out she had intelligence all along. It’s a beautiful transformation for her to make.”
Dawn turns her ignorance into enlightened revenge against Brock after he hires journalist Paul, played by sophomore Harry Thornton, to give her a crash course in life and love.
“She discovers her unknown power she has in his business, and she uses that knowledge to take Harry down,” Gerasole said.
Although he has served as a choreographer and assistant director on other ETHS production, “Born Yesterday” is Herrmann’s first as director.
Herrmann, a math teacher and cross-country coach, called directing “incredibly challenging and rewarding.”
“In cross country, you have to push kids to work as hard as you can really dig in,” he said. “Hard work alone is never enough in theater. If you work hard toward the wrong thing, you’re not really going anywhere. Figuring out what to work hard on is the challenge.”
Herrmann said it was important to him to utilize his background in choreography to incorporate singing and dancing into the show.
“It’s infused throughout,” he said. “It adds extra flair to the show. The kids get excited and involved in a variety of different ways. I’m excited about that. It’s an experience in itself.”