June 2004
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Photos courtesy of 
Jacques Louvet.





Born Yesterday

Billie Dawn is the mistress of Harry Brock, a Washington D.C. power broker who has come to town to bribe and buy his way to the top. Harry hires magazine reporter, Paul Verral, to teach Billie the knowledge and manner needed to make a good impression on Washington’s elite. When Paul and Billie fall in love, however, the play becomes a statement on feminism and the power one woman can hold.

By Garson Kanin


Alicia Marion as Billie Dawn
Tony Filipone as Harry Brock
Jeff Newton as Paul Verrall
Ed Zeiser as Ed Devery
Josh Gordon as Eddie Brock
Jack Hale as Senator Norval Hedges
Peg Carter as Mrs. Anna Hedges
Patrick Sellick as Hotel Assistant Manager
Sandi Liberatori as Helen (a Maid)
Larry Cerrito as Bellhop / Barber
Stephane Roberto as Manicurist


Director/Dramaturge:  Bil Katrina
Producer:  Michael Ciccarone
Art Director/Set Designer:  Bill Bourne 
Stage Manager:   Alison Traugott 
Assistant Stage Manager:  Christa Cherelli 
Chief Carpenter:  Geoff Randall 
Lighting Designer/Photographer:  Michael Ciccarone
Lighting Tech:  Tim Bean
Sound Designer:  Jacques Louvet
Costumes/Set Decorator:  Gloria Humphrey 
Makeup/Hair Designer:  Sharon Mauch 
Scenic Artist:  Bill Bourne 
Set Decorator:  Shannon Humphrey 
Construction Carpenter:  Frank Humphrey 
Music Consultant:  Martin Crabtree
Properties Master:  Peg Carter
Production Assistants:  Troy Fisher, Jim Hopper
Playbill Designer:  Eileen Ciccarone
Publicity:  Steve DiNenno

Special Thanks

Greentree Church of the Brethren, Oaks, PA
Martha Wilson - Manager, Garson Kanin Archive & Kanin/Gordon Estate
Glenn McMahon - Webmaster, Judy Holliday Resource Center
Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
Mercer County Community College, Mercer County, NJ
University of Utah
Syracuse University
Library of Congress
Bev Smith


Theatre should entertain, educate, and inspire. The following is a list of organizations which be may be helpful to those who would like more information on certain issues and subject matter brought out in Born Yesterday.

Information and shelter for abused and battered women can be found at:

Laurel House, PO Box 764, Norristown, PA 19404
Non-crisis calls: 610-277-186

For information on our right to vote and freedom of choice, please contact:

Voter Services - Montgomery County Court House, PO Box 311, Norristown, PA 19404-0311
Phone: 610-278-3280

The League of Women Voters, 1730 M Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036-4508
Phone: 202-429-1965

For information on the importance of reading in our homes and communities, please contact:

Reading Is Fundamental Inc., 1825 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 400, Washington DC 20009
Phone: 877-RIF-READ

The books on Billie Dawn's reading list are available at:

The Montgomery County Norristown Public Library, 1001 Powell St., Norristown, PA 19401
Phone: 610-278-5100

"Life as a rule is created by a team in passionate action,"
Garson Kanin wrote in the introduction to his book, Together Again!

Playwright - Garson Kanin

Rochester-native Kanin, forced out of high school by the 1929 stock market crash, worked as a Western Union messenger, salesman, and a clarinetist/saxophonist in a jazz band before making his way into vaudeville and radio. He studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and earned his first Broadway role upon graduating in 1933. Kanin went on to appear in such hits as Three Men on a Horse and Boy Meets Girl before becoming a production assistant to legendary producer/director George Abbott. Mr. Abbott encouraged him to direct, which Kanin did to such acclaim that he was soon summoned to Hollywood. A few B movies later he was given Bachelor Mother with Ginger Rogers, My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and They Knew What They Wanted with Carole Lombard and Charles Laughton. In 1941 Kanin joined the army's Training Film Laboratory, though he served as an Air Force sargent for a year. He and British director Carol Reed shared an Oscar for the D-Day documentary The True Glory. In December 1942 Kanin married actress Ruth Gordon, with whom he wrote such films as A Double Life and the Tracy/Hepburn pictures Adam's Rib and Pat and Mike. He began Born Yesterday, his best known work, during Word War II, intending it to be a "serious expose of Washington" starring his friend, actress Jean Arthur. He later said, " But, if I could define what is for me the ideal accomplishment, it is to treat serious subject lightly." Born Yesterday ran for 1600 performances. The film, directed by George Cukor, earned Judy Holliday the Best Actress Oscar. He was the recipient of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts' Award of Achievement in 1958. Subsequently Kanin wrote the libretto for the musical Do Re Mi as well as one for the opera Die Fleidermaus. He directed the film Diary of Anne Frank in 1955 and staged Funny Girl, starring Barbara Streisand, in 1964. Following Ruth Gordon's death in 1985 Kanin married the actress Marian Seldes. Garson Kanin died March 13, 1999.

Play Synopsis

Harry Brock is an American businessman whose drive for greed has gone into overdrive. In order to create an international junk-dealing empire he comes to DC to establish the assistance of Senator Norval Hedges in gaining access to all that great WWII wreckage. He will do this through the efforts of his lawyer, Ed Devery, who has laid the groundwork by finding Hedges and softening him up with a little advance. Harry has brought his girlfriend and business partner (on paper) Billie Dawn, in part to act as his hostess, but it soon becomes apparent that her rough edges could use a bit of filing. Literate, intelligent reporter Paul Verrall is determined to tutor Billie, hoping to distract him enough to carry out his plan without outside objections. Billie is naturally resistant to the idea that she needs improvement, but finds Verrall so amenable that she swallows her pride only to discover that knowledge is good. Thus Harry finds himself "surrounded" by do-gooders, particularly when Devery unearths sufficient backbone to let his disgust at Harry's plan come out. Sharper than the serpent's tooth is wise guy's wise girlfriend.

Director's Vision

Born Yesterday is billed as a comedy in three acts. That it is, but it is far from a fluff piece. This is a story of corporate corruption, political ambition and feminine strength -- A play where actors can really sink their teeth into their characters and audiences can get caught-up in the compelling story. Because it is so rare to see something so nakedly political staged as popular entertainment nowadays, we forget that politics are essentially dramatic, especially in 2004, a major election year. As Billie Dawn roars out her invective, denouncing Big Business and demanding justice, the moment is thrilling--and frighteningly contemporary, as the best politics always are.

I look forward to not only the comedic side of this play, but being able to present the drama in conflict between very contrasting characters as well. Born Yesterday was written more than twenty years before feminism, and Billie expresses exactly that idea in a play. While very funny at times, the play is fundamentally a story about the strength and growth that a woman exhibits as she frees herself from the bonds of mental, verbal and physical abuse. I am proud to be chosen to direct at The Dramateurs in their Seventieth Anniversary season.