Monday, February 25, 2013
GEORGE BURNS: AN ETERNAL SUNSHINE BOY
Imagine you're at the doors of the Pearly Gates, facing your maker, and God requests that you justify your existance to prove you are worthy of entering heaven. If you've lived over one hundred years and your name is George Burns, you might have quite a mouthful to say.
Waterbury's Seven Angels Theatre will let you sit in on Mr. Burns' heartfelt confessions in a delightful and sincere one man play by Rupert Holmes entitled "Say Goodnight Gracie," the line he always ended his routines with his partner and wife Gracie Allen. The show runs until Sunday, March 10.
Don't miss R. Bruce Connolly's wonderful interpretation of this beloved comedian, with his trademark cigar, a twinkle in his eye, a witty quib and a self-deprecating smile. One of twelve children, the son of a coat presser and cantor in the synagogue, born Nathan Birnbaum in the lower East Side of New York in a tenement in 1897, he found himself trying to support the family at the age of seven when his father died.
In his vaudeville days, he changed his stage name as frequently as he changed his underwear and he didn't find any success until he teamed up with a petite pretty Irish Catholic girl with a funny voice and a unique sense of humor named Gracie Allen.
Their comedy act, which he explains was based on "illogical logic," took them prominently from vaudeville to radio to the stage and to television. They talked, with George asking Gracie, "so how's your brother?" and Gracie answering with convoluted tale that lasted 22 minutes.
Their song and dance routine endured their whole married life, until Gracie's health problems forced her retirement. Now, after a century on this earth, George Burns justifies his place of prominence on this planet, dropping the names of his good friends like Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Duarante, in case God is impressed, and hopscotching happily through nine decades in show business. R. Bruce Connolly captures the spirit and heart of the man and shines a mirror on his soul, with a little soft shoe and a song. Semina DeLaurentis directs this homage to George Burns with an affectionate hand.
For tickets ($30-42), call Seven Angels Theatre, Plank Road, Hamiliton Park Pavilion, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at www.SevenAngelsTheatre.org. Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Let George Burns be the affable tour guide to his own life, as he tries to impress God, a role he played three times himself in the movies.