Arts and Entertainment

‘Sabrina Fair’ speaks more with emotion than words

Sabrina (left, played by Alicia Hill) peers upon a gift cockatoo which she has brought back from Paris for Maude (right, played by Barbara Miller) as David (Jerry Snyder) looks on. - Phtoto by Bill Mickelson
Sabrina (left, played by Alicia Hill) peers upon a gift cockatoo which she has brought back from Paris for Maude (right, played by Barbara Miller) as David (Jerry Snyder) looks on.
— image credit: Phtoto by Bill Mickelson

A small production quietly taking shape at the Bremerton Community Theatre could possibly make quite a bit of noise in the hearts of romantic comedy lovers. The only complication being that they won’t have the magic of a camera.

Well, of course, they won’t have a camera, it’s live theater.

However, “Sabrina Fair,” the play which the BCT cast of 13 is undertaking, is probably best well-known for 1940s-’50s era director Billy Wilder’s onscreen adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn as the fairest lady of all, “Sabrina” (1954).

“When you read a play like this on the surface it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard, but showing this entire process of their thinking and how they decide they are in love is really, really challenging,” said director Donna Barland of the play’s love story. “In a movie, they can do different settings and get close-ups of the characters faces ... you can’t do that on stage.”

“Sabrina Fair” is one big love story set amidst a clash in the social class structure as Sabrina Fairchild, daughter of a chauffeur to a wealthy Long Island estate (played by a breakout local actress Alicia Hill), who finds herself in love with a member of the higher class family. But that’s a feeling she’s not permitted to act upon because of her social stature.

It was originally a story penned by Samuel A. Taylor which was directed on Broadway by H.C. Potter in 1953, inspiring the 1954 Wilder flick.

However, Wilder took such directorial license with his revisions to the script that the story’s original author eventually abandoned the movie project.

Still, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards including a nod to Wilder as Best Director.

Now more than 50 years later, the cast and crew at BCT will be presenting the story more in way in which Taylor had probably seen it.

“There’s a lot in it about family and family relationships and how money affects people in their growing up, in their relationships and in how they view and relate to other people,” Barland said.

The play is set in 1955, but its themes envelope decades and are still quite relevant today.

“Democracy can be a wickedly unfair thing,” says Fairchild, Sabrina’s Father (played by Kitsap theater veteran Curtis Miller).

To relate, in those days, while everyone is supposedly equal, if a person of class was to marry a servant they would be looked upon as generous, however if a servant attempted to marry a person of class they’d be looked at as gold-diggers.

But in Sabrina’s world, a theme common to nearly all romantic comedies prevails, love is blinding.

“It’s been really different for me, I’ve acted in things like this before, but normally I like to direct very broad comedies where you know what you are laughing at because it’s so blatant,” said Barland who directed BCT’s “Moon over Buffalo” and “Born Yesterday.” “We’ve had to dig deeper and be able to make more subtle statements.”

Luckily for Barland, she agrees, she’s had an “exceedingly good” cast which pairs a few new faces, like Hill who’s only other theatrical role had been as a back-up singer, with a host of Kitsap theater veterans, like former BCT president Judy Nichols, the always emphatic Rhonda Romaine and other experience-laden cats like Miller and Charlie Birdsell.

“Most of them are veterans that I’ve worked with on and off for the past 20 years,” Barland said. “And there’s a couple of young people just starting out that are wonderful and very enthusiastic.”

Tickets are $10 general/$9 seniors and students/$7 kids under 12. The show will run through Dec. 2 with curtains at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

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