Say Goodnight, Gracie – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

When your time on earth is over and you find yourself at the Pearly Gates being interviewed by the big man (or woman), what might you say if you had to justify how you spent your days here. Would you be worthy to enter heaven? If you’ve lived over one hundred years and your name is George Burns, you might have quite a mouthful to say.

The Ivoryton Playhouse will let you sit in on Mr. Burns’ heartfelt confessions in a delightful and sincere one man play by Rupert Holmes entitled “Say Goodnight, Gracie,” the line he always ended his routines with his partner and wife Gracie Allen. The show runs until Sunday, November 21.

Don’t miss R. Bruce Connolly’s wonderful interpretation of this beloved comedian, with his trademark cigar, a twinkle in his eye, a witty quip and a self-deprecating smile. One of twelve children, the son of a coat presser and cantor in the synagogue, born Nathan Birnbaum in the lower East Side of New York in a tenement in 1897, he found himself trying to support the family at the age of seven when his father suddenly died. His creative skills finding employment were evident even then.

In his vaudeville days, he changed his stage name as frequently as he changed his underwear and he didn’t find any success until he teamed up with a petite pretty Irish Catholic girl with a funny voice and a unique sense of humor named Gracie Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen.

Their comedy act, which he explains was based on “illogical logic,” took them prominently from vaudeville to radio to the stage and to television. They talked, with George asking Gracie, “So, how’s your brother?” and Gracie answering with convoluted tales that lasted 22 minutes. He became the classic straight man to her innate brand of humor.

Their song and dance routine endured their whole married life, until Gracie’s health problems forced her retirement. Now, after a century on this earth, George Burns justifies his place of prominence on this planet, dropping the names of his good friends like Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Duarante, in case God is impressed, and hopscotching happily through nine decades in show business. R. Bruce Connolly captures the spirit and heart of the man and shines a mirror on his soul, with a little soft shoe and a song. Jacqueline Hubbard directs this homage to George Burns with an affectionate and gentle hand.

For tickets ($55, senior $50, student $25), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or go online for information to www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Be sure to bring your vaccination card and a mask. You will be socially distanced for this 90 minute show without intermission.

Let George Burns be the affable tour guide to his own life, as he tries to impress God, a role he played three times himself in the movies. Surely, you will be suitably delightful with everything he has to say and the wonderful pictures that illuminate his presentation.

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