The second Broadway revival of Garson Kanin’s 1946 comedy “Born Yesterday” opened last night, April 24, at the Cort Theatre. Doug Hughes directs this limited engagement run, starring Jim Belushi, Robert Sean Leonard and newcomer Nina Arianda.
Corrupt self-made millionaire Harry Brock (Belushi) is in Washington D.C. to buy some favors from the crooked Senator Norval Hedges (Terry Beaver). But Harry’s mistress and travel companion, the bubble-headed ex-showgirl Billie Dawn (Arianda), soon proves to be a social liability.
Harry hires journalist Paul Verrall (Leonard) to give Billie a political and cultural education, but a little knowledge goes a long way. When Billie realizes the true extent of her boyfriend’s shady business, she does everything in her power to stop him.
Despite an all-star cast, “Born Yesterday” has struggled to find an audience, with many tickets being sold at a steep discount on the Great White Way.
“Born Yesterday” began previews March 31 at the 1,079-seat Cort. Regular ticket prices range from $26.50 to $121.50, with premium seating options also available from $176.50 to $226.50. But, according to the Broadway League, average paid admission was just $26.52 for the week ending April 17. That number improved only slightly — to $32.74 — for the recent April 24 reporting week.
Attendance itself has also run low. After middling around 60 percent capacity for much of previews, attendance at the Cort jumped to 75 percent capacity through April 24. The late up-tick has translated to a weekly gross of $212,159 — and a four-week total of just $652,160.
The two-act play runs two hours and 15 minutes, including an intermission. Evening performances are staged Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees are 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“Born Yesterday” had its Broadway debut at the Lyceum in February 1946 and ran through December 1949, with Judy Holliday originating the role of Billie. Four decades later in 1989, the late Madeline Kahn stepped into Billie’s high-heel shoes for the first Broadway revival at the 46th Street Theatre.
The Cort Theatre is located at 138 West 48th Street in New York, NY. “Born Yesterday” is a limited engagement, scheduled through July 31 only. More details can be found on the production’s official Web site.
Opening Night: “Born Yesterday”
|Variety||Marilyn Stasio||“Newcomer Nina Arianda is no Judy Holliday, but she’s great fun to watch.”|
|New York Times||Charles Isherwood||“[Robert Sean Leonard] brings a touching, exhausted wistfulness to his performance as Paul.”|
|TheaterMania||David Finkle||“Belushi is giving one of the season’s best male performances.”|
|Hollywood Reporter||David Rooney||“Nina Arianda steals the show.”|
|New York Magazine||Scott Brown||“…Arianda [is] the play’s animating ambrosia and, without a doubt, the most exciting find of the Broadway season.”|
|New York Post||Elisabeth Vincentelli||“It’s a downright tour de force.”|