Riverwoods theater troupe presents ‘Sabrina Fair’
Elizabeth Mazur, in the background, and foreground from left, Rick Goldman, Emily Paul and Dave Lemrise in "Sabrina Fair." | Photo by Photoface, Pandy Olmstead
Theatre in the Woods, Estonian House, 14700 Estonian Lane, Riverwoods
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, July 20-29
$18 in advance, $20 at the door
(847) 604-1990 or visit www.theatreinthewoods.net
Updated: July 23, 2012 9:45AM
The daughter of a chauffeur returns from five years in Paris a changed woman and men notice in “Sabrina Fair.” Donna Lubow of Riverwoods, artistic director of Theatre in the Woods, directs Samuel Taylor’s romantic comedy for her company.
“It sort of reminded me of ‘Downton Abbey,’” Lubow said. In that television series, “The wealthy daughter runs off with the chauffeur. Here, the chauffeur’s daughter falls in love with the rich son of the wealthy family that her father works for.”
The play was written in 1953 and is best known for the 1954 movie version, “Sabrina,” which starred Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. “It has that feeling of the class distinctions that are overcome that interested me,” Lubow said.
Lubow is also fascinated by the character Sabrina. “She’s raised as the daughter of a chauffeur but she’s educated and she’s observed this family,” the artistic director said.
And, Lubow confided, there’s another reason she wanted to direct this show. “My granddaughter’s named Sabrina.”
The title role is played by Vernon Hills native Emily Paul. The 20-year-old will enter her junior year at Loyola University Chicago in the fall.
“I worked with her a couple of years ago when she had just graduated from high school,” Lubow said. “She was in a performance that I directed of “Jake’s Women.” When I thought of doing this play, I thought of her. She has that quality that you like watching her.”
“It’s kind of funny that Donna wanted me for this role because Sabrina is kind of a more optimistic version of myself,” Paul said. “Everything she does, she does because she absolutely loves it. She gives everything 100 percent.”
Before Sabrina’s years in Paris, “The other characters have described her as being really smart but very shy and mousey,” Paul noted. “Then she comes back from Paris and she’s very flirtatious and really outgoing.” Sabrina is hoping to discover if she really loves one of the sons of the family for which her father works.
Playing Sabrina is “so much fun,” the actor said. “She doesn’t take anything for granted but she doesn’t take life too seriously either. She wants to experience everything so she finds an insane amount of fun in everything she does.”
Paul also knows how to have fun. She took dance lessons for a long time before appearing in her first play as an eighth grader at Hawthorn Junior High School. “Then I did theater all through high school and now I’m majoring in it in college,” she said.
Paul admitted about her current role, “It’s kind of weird working with people twice my age but I’m learning so much from them.”
Taking the role that Humphrey Bogart played in the movie is Dave Lemrise of Buffalo Grove. Linus Larrabee Jr. is the older son of Sabrina’s father’s boss.
“He has taken over the family business. He kind of runs the show while the younger brother is more of a playboy,” Lemrise said. “Linus is intelligent and pretty ruthless in business. He knows his way in the world but he’s also very witty and charming with his family. He’s kind of an old soul with a young heart. He’s never really been in love. He’s one of the three guys that have been charmed by Sabrina.”
Lemrise believes that Linus is drawn to Sabrina because, “She’s so different from every other woman he’s met. She brings out a vulnerability in him that no one has done before. And she’s very funny. They really connect in an interesting way.”
Lemrise, who grew up in Schaumburg, has been performing since he was a child. He also sang with a family quartet when he was growing up. While he was earning a degree in social work from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Lemrise performed in professional summer stock theater every summer vacation.
He was a social worker for a few years but has been in the business world for the last 10 years or so.
Also for the last decade, Lemrise has performed extensively in community theater, as well as the occasional professional theater. In addition to working with Theatre in the Woods previously, Lemrise has performed with Deerfield Family Theater, Glenview Theatre Guild, Highland Park Players, Attic Playhouse and Buffalo Grove Singers, among others.
“Theater is a nice outlet for me,” Lemrise said.
“Sabrina Fair” should be a nice outlet for audiences. Director Lubow concluded, “It’s one of those lovely stories that you enjoy seeing, especially in the summer.”