Comedian George Burns wanted to live to be age 100 and planned to perform in Las Vegas to mark the grand occasion. Unfortunately a fall in the shower earlier on jinxed his goal, but he did live to be a century old, plus 49 days, 11 hours before going to the great beyond.
Rupert Holmes has crafted a delightful and poignant tribute to Burns and
his wife and acting partner Gracie Allen in "Say Goodnight, Gracie"
being offered for your enjoyment at the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday,
R. Bruce Connelly is wonderfully personable and charming as Burns,
complete with thick rimmed glasses and trademark cigar, as he reveals
and reviews his life. Born one of twelve siblings, the son of
immigrants, living in a tenement in the Lower East Side of
New York, he started out as Nathan Birnbaum.
The sudden death of his father, a Torah scholar, when he was only seven,
set him off as the family breadwinner, selling newspapers, shining
shoes and hauling ice. It wasn't long before the call of show business
placed him on a permanent road, with "temporary"
teamings with acts dancing, singing and even tending seals, as he tried
to find the magic key to success.
That key finally came when a petite Irish beauty signed on to be his new
partner, Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen. Their collaboration led to
marriage, a family and popularity in vaudeville, radio, film, television
and books. George and Gracie became household
names for decades, until Gracie's health forced her retirement. No
longer would he ask, "So, Gracie, how's your brother?"
This gentle waltz of a play reveals many happy moments, with film clips,
and a liberal stuffing of comical stories from the past. Jack Benny
pops in for his share of the humor as this love story is so sweetly
told. Michael McDermott directs this nostalgic
visit with one of America's most beloved stars of comedy.
For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20 children $15), call the
Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online
at www.ivoryton.com. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and
7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Come meet the actor who played none other than God, not once, not twice,
but three times and gave the world a host of heavenly performances,
with his own personal angel, Gracie, on a cloud nearby.