Susan Heyward takes on the title role—in earlier productions, it’s been played by Audrey Heburn and Julia Ormond—with energy and sweetness. But in a show that’s arguably all about her, it’s the ensemble that really shines. As Linus Jr., Gearhart emanates a sexy confidence that makes it hard to believe Sabrina spent her childhood fawning over David. Story is charming as the younger brother, and John Down and Helen Hedman are perfectly cast as their parents.
In an effort to add new depth to the classic story, Rayne cast African-American actors (a decision highlighted in the program) in the roles of Sabrina and her father, but he made no changes to the original script. The change might have been an opportunity to explore race in 1950s Long Island, though it would have been a tricky balance with the show’s light, romantic tone. But the play never takes advantage of the choice, focusing on class instead.
The set and staging choices aren’t surprising, but they’re well-executed. White patio furniture and ivy-draped stone invite the audience into the Larabees’ sun-dappled life of luxury. The realistic lighting is especially well-done. And the form-fitting mid-century costumes rival those on Mad Men.
At Ford’s Theatre through October 24. Tickets ($39 to $55) are available here.
Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter