from the Footlights

October 2005                                          


October 5: Born Yesterday


It’s not Mr. Smith Goes To Washington—it’s better. On Wednesday, October 5, Footlights will discuss Garson Kanin’s play Born Yesterday, which a leading theater reference work calls “a character comedy that involves the transformation of former chorus girl Billie Dawn” whom her paramour calls “breathtakingly beautiful and breathtakingly stupid” into a politically influential doyenne of Washington society. There are still such people wandering around Georgetown, by the way, even if they aren’t former chorus girls. But they are powerful political women who make their way to those pinnacles through pulling social strings.


Born Yesterday was Garson Kanin’s first and most successful Broadway play—a satirical comedy set in wartime Washington, D.C. Opening on Broadway in 1946 and running for 1642 performances, Born Yesterday featured a star-making performance by Judy Holliday, a relative unknown hired at the last minute when the original star, Jean Arthur, quit during the tryout.


Footlights will have a panel discussion of the play, at Alfio’s, with two members participating and—if we can get them—more invited guests. One will be Ann Hoffman, retired lobbyist for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and a woman who knows her way around Washington politics, if not Washington parties. The moderator/panelist will be Mark Gruenberg, Footlights president, a journalist in Washington for all but two of the last 30 years.


Our dinner-discussion of Born Yesterday takes place on Wednesday, October 5, at Alfio’s, located in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase, MD (301-657-9133), two blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro. Street parking is limited; Alfio’s offers complimentary valet parking. Arrive at 6:30 for dinner; our meeting begins at 7:30 and goes no later than 9:30. We have arranged a fixed price meal at Alfio’s. For only $12 (tax and service charge included) you will have salad, entree, ice cream and coffee or tea. Cash is preferred, but you may use checks or credit cards. An additional $5 donation to Footlights is encouraged.


You may come for the discussion only at 7:30 p.m. We’ll set up a few seats at the back of the room, or you may use any unoccupied seats at the tables.


Reservations are required. Call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg anytime for reservations, 202-898-4825 or [email protected]. If you must cancel be sure to notify Mark so that someone else can attend.


Read the play. Born Yesterday is readily available in anthologies, libraries, or at Backstage Books (202-544-5744), 545 8th St. SE, Washington, DC (Eastern Market metro stop).


Born Yesterday at Arena Stage


Born Yesterday will be performed at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC, from September 30 through November 6. Footlights will see it on Tuesday, November 1, at 7:30 p.m. This performance is followed by a cast discussion. Discounted tickets are $36. For reservations to join us, send your check to Footlights, c/o Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852. For questions or to check ticket availability, contact Robin at 240-669-6300 or [email protected].


No Exit in November


Footlights next turns to French philosopher and thinker Jean-Paul Satre’s rarely seen play No Exit for our November discussion. No Exit is a penetrating and terrifying look into the lives of three persons who joined together “make up their own kind of hell” in the afterlife. First written and performed in Paris during the German occupation of 1944, it is still a relevant modern classic from one of the founding fathers of the “Theatre of the Absurd.” Scena Theatre will present No Exit in honor of the playwright’s 100th anniversary.


Robert McNamara, Scena Theatre’s Artistic Director, will be our honored guest speaker in November; date TBD.

About Footlights


To get Footlights updates on-line, send any message — even blank—to [email protected]. Subscribers can post to our on-line list by sending brief messages to [email protected]. Visit our website at for updates. Address inquiries to Mark Gruenberg at 202-898-4825 or [email protected].


Please support Footlights, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Send your tax-deductible contributions to Footlights, c/o Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852.

Footlights Family News


Footlights has learned of the death of member Carol Everett earlier this year. Our sympathy to her family and friends.


We wish bon voyage and good luck to Sybil Keats, who has departed for Australia. Many thanks to Sybil for her many contributions to Footlights and service on our Board of Directors.





Sunday, September 23, 3 p.m., see The Disputation at Theater J.


Wednesday, October 5, 6:30 p.m., dinner-discussion of Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday at Alfio’s.


Tuesday, November 1, 7:30 p.m., see Born Yesterday at Arena Stage. Tickets are $36.



Meeting reservations:           Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or [email protected]


Theater tickets:                     Robin Larkin, 240-669-6300 or [email protected]