Warren's 2nd Story Theatre finishes its summer 2012 season with a modern-day fairy tale, Sabrina Fair.
Sabrina Fairchild (played by Gabby Sherba) is the story's unlikely Cinderella. After attending college and spending five years working in Paris, Sabrina returns to her childhood home transformed from a shy, unassuming girl to a vibrant, confident young woman. These changes baffle Sabrina's father (Vince Petronio) and astound his employers, the Larrabee family, who struggle to see Sabrina as anything more than their chauffer's daughter.
While the elder generation chafes at the blurring of class and social boundaries, the Larrabee boys find Miss Fairchild utterly irresistible, and Sabrina discovers she has more to learn about herself than her Paris experiences could teach.
Sherba is an ideal Sabrina – vivacious, assured, utterly charming. She balances her character's great enthusiasm with an increasing self-awareness and delivers rapid-fire dialogue with total ease, a whirlwind gusting through the staid, unchanging universe of the Larrabees' Long Island estate. Sherba also well-plays her more understated scenes (the "Peter Rabbit" exchange with Sabrina's one-time French beau, for instance) and manifests her character's steady growth in these quieter moments.
Alex Duckworth and Jeff Church play the Larrabee sons, Linus, Jr. and David. Duckworth relishes Linus' manipulation and control, both in the world of business and with his Larrabee relatives. He wears Linus' aloof independence like a badge of honor, but then subtly sheds this emotional armor the closer his character draws to Sabrina. Church gives David a dreamer quality, romantic and idealistic, and skillfully maintains the character's comic qualities without making David appear foolish.
Isabel O'Donnell and Bob Colonna are brilliant as the heads of the Larrabee family, Maude and Linus, Sr. O'Donnell and Colonna play off the foibles of each other's character, be it Linus, Sr.'s darkly comedic obsession with attending and rating the quality of his contemporaries' funerals or Maude's myopic views on social distinctions and class interactions.
Paula Faber absolutely shines as Maude's dearest friend, Julia Ward McKinlock. Faber plays "Aunt Julia" with delightfully dry humor, a perfect choice as her one-liners are some of the wittiest and biting of the entire production. Faber is entirely at ease on stage and presents Julia as an assured, successful professional, a wry observer to the unfolding Larrabee drama and, when it most counts, as the voice of reason while the situation seems at its most unreasonable.
The stage production of Sabrina Fair differs somewhat from the story's more familiar film adaptations (1954's Audrey Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart classic and the Harrison Ford/Julia Ormond remake in 1995), but its dissimilarities make for a stronger, more defined heroine. This Sabrina is no lovesick girl pining for an unattainable romantic ideal. With three men vying for her attentions, Sabrina is able to look past The Temptations of marrying for wealth, position and passing attraction to instead demand a love-filled relationship and a more substantial outcome for her life. Sabrina's independence and self-possession are the keys to this tale's happy ending.
2nd Story Theatre presents Sabrina Fair through September 2, 2012. Tickets are available by phone (401) 247-4200, through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the box office at 28 Market Street, Warren, RI. Regular tickets are $25; audience members under age 21 pay $20. For further information, see the company's website at www.2ndstorytheatre.com.
Pictured: Gabby Sherba and Vince Petronio
Photo Credit: Richard W. Dionne, Jr.