A charming, humble girl finds herself making the decision of a lifetime. At the Ottawa Little Theatre, Sabrina Fair brings romance to the stage in this 1953 Samuel Taylor play.
Should you see it?
Set in the wealthy estate of the Larrabee family, Sabrina Fair is a romantic comedy that pits money against love. This is just the kind of fantastical show that will sweep audiences away from the winter blues. If it sounds familiar that’s because this Broadway play has been adapted to the big screen several times, including an Audrey Hepburn classic.
This production, directed by Venetia Lawless, stars Jane Chambers as Sabrina, a once shy young girl who returns home from spending several years in Paris as a sophisticated and optimistic young woman. While she may have lived with the Larrabee’s under their roof and seeing their lavish expensive lifestyle, it was only because her father was their chauffeur. She grew up dreaming of being a part of their wealthy family and now she returns to find she may have fallen in love with more than just their lifestyle. With several potential suitors, Sabrina must choose whether to follow her head or her heart.
Cheryl Jackson was a real standout performer, as Julia McKinlock. She reigned in the Larrabee family with strong opinions, and plenty of well timed wit. Geoff Gruson as Linus Sr. was entertaining as the gruff head of the household. The two brothers, Linus Jr. and David played by Josh Sparks and Phillip Merriman did a nice job charming the audience. It would have been interesting to see their contrasting characters play off each other more, but that simply wasn’t in the script.
Perhaps the decision to include a live cockatoo for a brief scene wasn’t the best, considering the bird didn’t perform and squawked over the other actor’s lines. I commend the cast for keeping their cool when their feathered thespian friend wouldn’t cooperate.
The set piece created by Graham Price was beautiful and lush. Unfortunately there were lighting and sound errors made during the first act that were quite distracting. Some of the period costumes were quite well done, but I thought Sabrina’s costumes were a little inconsistent.
Although Sabrina Fair was a lot of fun, I can’t help but think the play itself has become quite dated. I didn’t find the second act nearly as suspenseful as intended. The romantic notions of wealth and adventure have changed so much that this hardly even rang as a fairy tale. While this was a very entertaining play, with beautiful exposition and funny moments I think it needed a contemporary spin to make it more memorable.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did Sabrina Fair whisk you away to another time and place? Does this kind of romantic story hold up? Let me know what you think. Join the conversation in the comments below.
Sabrina Fair runs in the Ottawa Little Theatre until March 7th.