You may remember the movie about the chauffeur’s daughter who spends five years in Paris and returns princess-like to the Larrabee Estate on Long Island, where she grew up.
The fairy tale play is better than the movie, zeroing in on class distinctions of the ’50s and emphasizing the importance of taking control of your own life. And it is told in a whimsical manner with crisp, witty language.
Director Ed Shea has taken this comedy of manners and, in his own words, molded the “smarter script” into a two-hour, two-act delightful evening of theatre.
At the center of the story is Sabrina Fairchild, returning from Paris all grown up and determined to live life on her own terms. Sophisticated, sassy and quite the young beauty, she charms the Larrabee brothers, who, along with a rich Frenchman who seeks her hand in marriage, are attracted to her.
Act I sets the stage for the cleverly staged Act II, where there are a few surprises and twists. Sabrina is still the daughter of the help. She’s not invited to the party. She’s not a suitable match for the wealthy sons. She’s Cinderella without the glass slipper.
A startling revelation by her father, and an eye-opening meeting of the minds with one of the suitors changes everything, leads to a wonderful and satisfying conclusion that will make you believe in fairy tales.
Shea must be as pleased as the audience with the sets that Trevor Elliott has created since the decision was made to open up the productions. Elliott’s patio set is so realistic that I would like to hire him to build me one just like it.
Add Ron Cesario’s costumes, which add elegance, especially to the ladies, including a wig that turns Paula Faber’s Julia into one attractive senior citizen.
Gabby Sherba, who we have seen grow up on the stage at 2nd Story, is perfect for the part of the little girl who grew up. She is Sabrina Fairchild.
Welcome back to 2nd Story, Bob Colonna, who is right on the mark as the wealthy, prejudiced father who wouldn’t think of a chauffeur’s daughter marrying into the family. Colonna has the comic timing to make his character much more than a stereotypical wealthy, prejudiced father.
The cast is great, as has come to be the standard at 2nd Story. Vince Petronio plays Sabrina’s father as a bright, humble man with scruples. He has his shining moment when he explains his secret, which has an effect on everyone, especially his daughter.
Isabel O’Donell as Maude Larrabee and Paula Faber as her close friend both add a bit of dignity, class and wisdom to the story.
Alex Duckworth has some of the best lines in Taylor’s sharply written script, while Jeff Church adds another dimension as his brother. Tim White has the French accent down as Sabrina’s French suitor.
It all adds up to a fun, light night at the theatre.
“Sabrina Fair” plays through Sept. 2. Tickets are $25. For reservations call 247-4200.