The chauffeur’s daughter takes off for Paris with a broken heart but returns a few years later with a sophistication and charm that is turning heads in the aristocratic Larrabee family.
So begins the premise of “Sabrina Fair” — the 1950s Samuel Taylor romantic comedy that takes a look at love and class. The play opens Friday night at Theatre Macon and runs through June 4, closing out the theater’s 30th season.
“This play is very witty, very charming,” said Jim Crisp, artistic director for the theater. “There is some outright funny things. I think of it as a light romantic comedy with some substance to it.”
Though a comedy, the play does address issues of gender equality and class that still resonate.
“The gender issues that it addresses are as current as today’s newspaper,” he said. “It’s also a play that makes the observation that the idea that America was a country without class is a myth.”
The play is famously the basis of the 1954 film “Sabrina,” which starred Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
“The film is the play, but as I always say and maintain, it’s better in live performance,” Crisp said. “This was a great classic film … and I love this film, but there’s still something about a live performance with flesh-and-blood actors who are telling you the story in real time and in the same space that you are sitting in. That’s the magic of theater.”
Crisp said his seasoned cast has done a good job of taking these iconic roles and making them their own.
“It’s always been one of Audrey Hepburn’s landmark, milestone roles,” Crisp said of the film version. “The daunting thing is that Audrey Hepburn played that role so you’re faced with finding an actor to play Sabrina who will put her own fresh mark on it and someone who will gently allow the audience to forget Audrey Hepburn in the role.”
Crisp said Rachel Chabot has managed to do that with her take on Sabrina Fairchild. She is joined onstage by her real-life husband, Jeff Chabot, who plays Linus Larrabee Jr. The other Larrabee family members include Anthony Ennis as David Larrabee, September Carter as Larrabee matriarch Maude and Tom Morris as Linus Larrabee Sr.
The play takes place in two acts, both centered on a walled terrace garden at the Larrabees’ Long Island estate.
“It’s a solid cast. We will be able to bring it to life in this story, and this time and place to life in a very vibrant way for our audience,” Crisp said. “I think our audience will be enchanted by it.”