The City of Beverly Hills and Theatre Forty (one of the longest producing professional / community theatres in Los Angeles) bring Todd Kreidler's "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" from their Beverly Hills High School stage to the splendor of the historical landmark Doheny Mansion: Greystone. Greystone, the location for hundreds of movies and television shows and the former home of The American Film Institute should be an ideal setting for this very dated story of who should marry whom and what the consequences might be.
Larry Eisenberg as Matt Drayton, long time liberal editor of what might have been the San Franciso Chronicle, Eisenberg is not Spencer Tracy, but finding his own way certainly works. Matt's wife, Catherine Drayton, (Diana Angelina) runs a high end art gallery that seems to be only coincidental to the plot. On the whole, especially in this elegant setting the obvious largess of the Draytons should be a perfect setting to reflect the tangled web of love and bias and life lessons that were examined in the screenplay over fifty years ago.
|Larry Eisenberg, Diana Angelina
The Drayton's lovely daughter, Joey (Abigail Stewart) well.. Joanna, , now that she's stepped into the world and become an adult, eschewing her childhood nickname.. surprises her parents by breezing into the family home.. maybe on Nob Hill.. maybe with a view of the Golden Gate.. but on a hill, certainly.. and she has big news.. She's back from her work in Hawaii and, Joanna is in love. Her intended is a widower. She is smitten.. He is older. She is 26, but but... but.. she is smitten! He is practical. Joanna is .. well.. Smitten. Casting here is iffy.
He, of course, as we recall from William Rose's film, is Dr. John Prentice (Marc Antonio Pritchett ) with professional credits and medical research interests that have taken him from one hemisphere to another to discover new remedies for tropical diseases.
Angelina, as the beautiful art gallery owner, factors in as chemistry should, with a balance to Matt's supposedly liberal bent. The term 'crusading editor' might be over the top.. but the 'not in my backyard[' or "not my only daughter" rears its hoary head and we are off to the races.
Fifty six years is a long time to dig back into the story of prejudice and angst. Director Cate Caplin has her work cut out for her with a huge room.. the
Doheney Great Room? with marble fireplace and accoutrements. Here at Greystone, opulence reigns. Staging is problematic as the audience is seated all on the same level, giving the front row a great view. All others : good luck.
Tillie (Crystal Jackson) is the major domo of the Drayton clan has had a hand in raising Joanna and as Isabel Sanford (before she moved on up to the East Side) brought to the film, Tillie/Jackson will brook no nonsense.
The Monsignor (David Hunt Stafford) is Matt's golf buddy and as a priest, he stirs the pot almost to boiling with the help of a snort of scotch.
The issues of mixed race marriages have long been problematic as folks who meet and are, indeed, smitten.. Love wants what love wants.. Sadly, bias in it's most basic form as it was long ago, has not completely disappeared and, as we see from our present time twenty twenty hindsight, this story will always ... in one form or another be one for the ages.
Why does a stage representation of an old black and white (ahem) movie (Oh wait! in my memory it was b/w..but was, in fact.. in living color! Thanks to Phil Sokoloff for this edit..) have relevance today? Why mount a play that has an issue? I think that it's to give the company members some well deserved characters and some decent issues to play. It's a way to remind us that the story goes on and on and on.. and on.. Do we adjust? Is society better now?
No spoilers, but there are other issues to be dealt with and Dr. Prentice's declaration that he won't marry Joanna unless Matt and Christine sign off on the idea, creates interesting dramatic tension.
It's a short run. Greystone is a beautiful landmark in the hills of Beverly and perfect for the setting of this play. Head for the Hills. Arrive early!!
Marc Antonio Pritchett
Patricia A. Lewis
David Hunt Stafford
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
by Todd Kreidler
Adapted from the 1967 screenplay by William Rose.
Produced for Theatre Forty by David Hunt Stafford.
905 Loma Vista Drive,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Ample free parking is available onsite.
Opened Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. Also plays Sunday, January 15 at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m., Saturday, January 21 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 22 at 2:00 p.m.
RESERVATIONS: (310) 364-3606.
ONLINE TICKETING: https://theatre40.org
Wear comfortable shoes.
The entrance at night is not well lit. Ignore the "Private Event" sign and head on up the hill when you find the driveway.