Light Up a Cigar With George

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Comedian George Burns wanted to live to be age 100 and planned to perform in Las Vegas to mark the grand occasion. Unfortunately a fall in the shower earlier on jinxed his goal, but he did live to be a century old, plus 49 days, 11 hours before going to the great beyond.

Rupert Holmes has crafted a delightful and poignant tribute to Burns and his wife and acting partner Gracie Allen in "Say Goodnight, Gracie" being offered for your enjoyment at the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, November 16.

R. Bruce Connelly is wonderfully personable and charming as Burns, complete with thick rimmed glasses and trademark cigar, as he reveals and reviews his life. Born one of twelve siblings, the son of immigrants, living in a tenement in the Lower East Side of New York, he started out as Nathan Birnbaum.

The sudden death of his father, a Torah scholar, when he was only seven, set him off as the family breadwinner, selling newspapers, shining shoes and hauling ice. It wasn't long before the call of show business placed him on a permanent road, with "temporary" teamings with acts dancing, singing and even tending seals, as he tried to find the magic key to success.

That key finally came when a petite Irish beauty signed on to be his new partner, Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen. Their collaboration led to marriage, a family and popularity in vaudeville, radio, film, television and books. George and Gracie became household names for decades, until Gracie's health forced her retirement. No longer would he ask, "So, Gracie, how's your brother?"

This gentle waltz of a play reveals many happy moments, with film clips, and a liberal stuffing of comical stories from the past. Jack Benny pops in for his share of the humor as this love story is so sweetly told. Michael McDermott directs this nostalgic visit with one of America's most beloved stars of comedy.

For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20 children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivoryton.com. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Come meet the actor who played none other than God, not once, not twice, but three times and gave the world a host of heavenly performances, with his own personal angel, Gracie, on a cloud nearby.

 

* Contact Us * Designed by Rokoco Designs * © 2008 CCC *
CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE