On the North Shore of Long Island, there lived a wealthy family with servants for every imaginable need. There was also a chauffeur and his daughter, Sabrina, who had grown up on the estate. She goes to Paris for a few years and comes back polished, lovely and full of a joie de vive! Her effervescent presence brings a real shakeup to the Larrabee family, residents of the idyllic acreage and overseers of a major corporation.

Sabrina Fair
Drew Hirschboeck (as David Larrabee) and Regina Steffen (as Sabrina Fairchild) in Sabrina Fair, now playing at the Spotlight Theater.

What has been a Broadway play, a 1950’s classic movie (starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden) and a remake starring Harrison Ford, Greg Kinnear and Julia Ormond, is now Sabrina Fair, a play at the Lighthouse Theater in Lowry. The set is beautiful and very inviting – a bit of patio and garden at the back of the house with snippets of the warmly-lit house visible through the French doors. It’s easy to imagine the opulence that must dwell within. The costumes, too, are beautiful and period 1950’s. Sabrina’s outfits, especially, are feminine, form-fitting and just right for a young woman who has been exposed to Parisian ways. 

After five years away, climbing the professional ladder and being wooed by a wealthy Frenchman, Sabrina returns home to the Larrabee estate and to her father who has always been absolutely content  in his job which has allowed him plenty of time to read and pick up some handy wealth management tips from the family, making him a rich man in his own right. But now Sabrina has returned home just bursting with a love of life, so much so that she’s incredibly annoying at first. After a little transition time, settling into figuring out who she is now with this new way of thinking and experience under her belt, she feels like a woman between two worlds. Thus starts a triangle between Sabrina and the two Larrabee brothers that I can’t quite call of “love triangle” because it lacks chemistry. I felt more of a connection between the brothers than I did between Sabrina and either man. This despite the fact that she supposedly always loved David Larrabee, the younger, more charming brother and that the more gruff older Larrabee, Linus, was her match in wits and banter. 

Sabrina Fair
Almost-all-business Linus Larrabee, Jr. (James O’Hagan-Murphy) and Steffen form the rest of the love triangle in Sabrina Fair.

I have not seen the original movie but the remake does a good job of establishing the crush Sabrina had on an oblivious David and how hard it was to leave him behind. And it shows the wiser yet still naive Sabrina to be a gentle breath of fresh air for Linus who is so pent up he can barely function outside of the board room. The play’s Linus was a little too easy-going and fun to be seen as someone saved from a fate worse than death (himself), which is the story’s theme. And David was not enough of a carefree playboy to show the important differences between the two brothers, and therefore Sabrina’s quandary over which kind of bad boy (the player vs. the inaccessible one) to go for. There was, however, a lot of interesting, intellectual talk in Sabrina Fair which sometimes made plot progression stop in its tracks for no good reason.  I would have preferred the time taken for those exchanges to be used to create a little more history, emotion and connection between the characters themselves and between the characters and the audience. 

Still, Sabrina Fair is very well-acted and provides many thought-provoking statements about love, class disparity, women’s rights and more. The entire cast performed well but the highlight was Cindy Laudadio-Hill (who we loved in Motherhood Out Loud at the Avenue Theater). She played Julia McKinlock, life-long friend of Maude Larrabee, the matriarch of the family. Julia, a magazine editor, is recuperating from surgery at the Larrabee estate and is therefore lounging about quite a bit, in the middle of the action, taking it all in. Not only is her acting wonderful but her character is just delicious as the one who sees all, understands all and takes in the big picture of it all better than everyone else too close to the situation. Laudadio-Hill is reason enough to see this play, although there are plenty of other reasons too. The biggest reason of all is to support small, local theater, which continues to turn out quality work, for moderate ticket prices. 

Sabrina Fair plays Fridays-Sundays through March 18 so hurry and get your tickets. 


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