Village Players actors reprise roles for ‘Born Yesterday’Written by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Village Players Theatre production of “Born Yesterday” is a reunion of sorts.
The post-World War II comedy, written by Garson Kanin, opens March 8. It follows Harry Brock, a businessman who travels to Washington, D.C. He hires a journalist to give his uncultured fiancée a crash course on politics, history and literature, ensuring All-American humor, according to an email by Christopher Jagodzinski, vice president of public relations for The Village Players Theatre.
Director Barbara Barkan is familiar with the play from when she played female lead Billie Dawn in 1975. Her daughter, Thea Grabiec, will be playing the role in this year’s production.
“I’ve been an actress since I was really little, thanks to my mom,” Grabiec said. “This has always been a dream role for me.”
The part calls for an actress of a certain age, so now that Grabiec is in her mid-20s, she said the time is “absolutely perfect.”
“It’s kind of cool to fill my mom’s shoes because she’s my idol,” Grabiec said. “To be able to play the role that she’s played before and to be directed by her is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
She looked to her mom for advice.
“Before I even auditioned, [my mom] flat out asked me in complete earnest ‘Are you going to be OK to be directed by me?’” Grabiec said.
Grabiec even asked Barkan if she was to call her “Barbara” or “Mom” in rehearsal.
“I’ll be honest with you, I slipped once and called her ‘mom,’” Grabiec said. “She just kind of giggled.”
Grabiec said the role was challenging in the beginning. She didn’t feel like she was capturing the role of Billie Dawn. She pulled Barkan aside for advice.
“She looked to me with a smile and she said, ‘There are moments that you have been better than I was,’” Grabiec said. “My mom has been an actress for virtually her entire life … so for her to say that to me was earth-shattering.”
She said the biggest challenge was separating herself from Barkan’s daughter and becoming the character of Billie.
Grabiec said it’s a great role for a woman.
“This woman is a victim of domestic violence … through the process of this very act, Billie becomes a bigger, better, stronger person,” Grabiec said. “One of her lines [at the end] is ‘I’m not scared of you anymore, Harry.’ It’s kind of cool to play a character who grows so much.”
Grabiec is moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career two weeks after the show closes. Ed Burnham, who plays Ed Devery, said he wanted to be involved in the production for a chance to work with Grabiec before she moved.
“I’ve known her since she was born,” Burnham said. He told her if she read for the part, he would “definitely” be involved. “Thea is very striking when she walks out on stage. … When you see her onstage, it’s hard to take your eyes off her. She pretty much steals every scene she is in. She gets a lot of that from her mother. That was the reason I wanted to do the show.”
Burnham also played Devery in a 1975 production with Barkan. Also returning to the show is Carol Ann Erford as Helen, who played the part of Mrs. Hedges in 1975.
“It’s a small reunion,” Burnham said. “It’s like going back to a place that you’ve visited before.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit villageplayers.org.
Tags: Village Players Theatre