2nd Story Theatre concludes it summer season with a charming production of "Sabrina Fair," Samuel Taylor’s modern fairy tale that examines class, privilege and how status and the expectations of society control the actions of a blossoming young woman and her three admirers.
"Sabrina Fair" premiered on Broadway in 1953 and was the basis for Billy Wilder’s renowned 1954 romantic comedy "Sabrina," starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, and its 1995 remake with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond. Taylor’s play is a witty, poignant portrayal of a wealthy Long Island family taken aback by their chauffeur’s daughter when she returns home from a trip abroad.
Despite having grown up on the sprawling Larrabee estate where her late mother and her father, Fairchild (Vince Petronio), have earned a living, Sabrina Fairchild (Gabby Sherba) was always classified as "the help." But when the shy, awkward teen returns from a five-year stay in Paris as a worldly, sophisticated young woman, the Larrabee brothers, all work and no play Linus (Alex Duckworth) and ladies’ man David (Jeff Church), can’t help but take notice of her.
The recently divorced David, Sabrina’s lifelong crush, falls in love with her instantly and, much to the chagrin of his parents, Maude (Isabel O’Donnell) and Linus, Sr. (Bob Colonna), wastes no time asking their permission to marry her. Meanwhile, Sabrina confides in Linus that she’s already considering marrying Paul D’Argenson (Tim White), a Frenchman of considerable means who has promised her a life of luxury. Much to her and everyone’s surprise, it turns out Fairchild has his own set of plans for his daughter, none of which involve the Larrabee brothers or Mr. D’Argenson.
While the play is written as a comedy and has plenty of funny lines, the best of which are delivered by family friend and houseguest Julia (Paula Faber), Sabrina’s personal journey of self discovery is the focal point, as she comes to the realization that her story has only just begun.
Events transpire on the back deck of the Larrabee estate mansion, beautifully replicated on stage by Trevor Elliott, and Ron Cesario’s costumes are both dazzling and dapper.
Sherba’s performance as Sabrina is earnest and genuine, and she shares great chemistry with Church, who shines as David, a potential suitor. O’Donnell is outstanding as the high-strung matriarch, Maude, and Faber’s comedic timing is perfect in her portrayal of Julia. As usual, 2nd Story vets Petronio and Colonna deliver stellar performances, and Duckworth comes across as somewhat reserved albeit pleasant as Linus.
Courtesy of Ed Shea’s exemplary direction and his terrific cast, "Sabrina Fair" at 2nd Story is an enjoyable production and an ideal occasion for the few remaining days of summer.
"Sabrina Fair" continues through September 2 at 2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market Street, Warren, RI. For info or tickets, call 401-247-4200 or visit 2nd Story Theatre’s website.