Previews began Oct. 1. The title role of a chauffeur's daughter — who is the object of affection from two rich brothers — is now portrayed, non-traditionally, by black actress Susan Heyward. Thus, Ford's staging of the 1953 play, as production notes indicate, "considers true love hindered by class, race and social conventions." Performances play to Oct. 24.
Director Stephen Rayne (Ford's The Heavens Are Hung in Black) said in a statement, "Sabrina Fair is a wonderful social comedy that has largely been ignored for the last 50 years. We have given the story a fresh perspective by casting black actors in the roles of Sabrina and her father Fairchild and, with no changes to the script, have cast a new light on the struggles faced in relationships across lines of race and class. This simple change invites audiences to look at a story made famous by movie adaptations with fresh eyes and adds a contemporary resonance that many may not expect to find in such an engaging comedy."
The production features Todd Gearhart and Tom Story as the charming Larrabee brothers, plus John Dow as Linus Larrabee, Sr., Helen Hedman as Maude Larrabee, Kimberly Schraf as Julia and Craig Wallace as Fairchild, with Bolton Marsh, Donna Migliaccio, Tonya Beckman Ross, Michael Morrow Hammack, Casie Platt, Julia Proctor and Derek Kahn Thompson.
According to Ford's notes, "When the daughter of the Larrabees' chauffeur returns from five years in Paris, she bewitches the Larrabee brothers with her youthful vitality and newly found sophistication. Largely ignored as a child, Sabrina now finds suitors at every turn, including the handsome playboy David, for whom she has always harbored affection. But is David the right Larrabee brother for her?"
Heyward makes her Washington debut in the title role. Her New York City credits include Ruined at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Nathan the Wise and The Oedipus Cycle at the Pearl Theatre and I Have Before Me A Remarkable Document Given To Me By A Young Lady From Rwanda. Gearhart makes his Ford's Theatre debut as Linus Larrabee, Jr. His New York credits include multiple productions with TACT/The Actors Company Theatre including The Eccentricities of a Nightingale.
Story makes his Ford's debut as David Larrabee. His many Washington credits include the Helen Hayes-nominated performances of Bernard in A Number and Young Houseman in The Invention of Love at Studio Theatre, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
The production team includes scenic designer Daniel Lee Conway; costume designer Wade Laboissonniere; lighting designer Pat Collins; sound designer John Gromada; prop designer Marie Schneggenburger; wig designer Anne Nesmith; and dialect coach Lynn Watson.
Ford's Theatre is located at 511 10th Street NW, between E and F streets, in Washington, DC.
For more information, visit www.fords.org.