Seen here in rehearsal for the first "family meeting" in the CT premiere of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER at Curtain Call in Stamford are: standing (L-R) Luke Lynch and George Croom; seated, (L-R) Lesli Allen, Nikki Neurohr, Kevin Thompson and Toni Parker. The show will play in The Dressing Room Theatre September 7 through 24. (contributed photo)
Fifty years ago, on June 12, 1967, the United States Supreme Court invalidated laws that prohibited interracial marriage, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.
Six months later, on December 12, 1967, the film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" opened in theaters, telling the story of a young interracial couple wanting to marry. Timely? Very.
On September 7, Curtain Call will open its 27th season with Todd Kreidler's adaptation of that hit film based on the Academy Award winning screenplay by William Rose. It will play in The Dressing Room Theatre through September 24. "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is a cultural touchstone. Approaching it today, I wanted to talk about and engage in the attitudes of 1967 with a 21st century approach," said Kreidler.
Though set in 1967 the story remains relevant today, It explores a progressive couple's proud liberal sensibilities as they are put to the test when their daughter arrives home bursting with excitement and with an unexpected fiancé. Expectations and reality collide when questions of race, fear, and cultural beliefs are staring them directly in the face and in their own home. The play delivers passionate moments of acceptance and the idea that when it comes to matters of the heart, true love is colorblind.
Seen here in rehearsal for the CT premiere of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER at Curtain Call in Stamford are: Nikki Neurohr and Kevin Thompson, playing the young couple facing the challenges of an interracial marriage in 1967. The show will play in The Dressing Room Theatre September 7 through 24. (contributed photo)
"I have wanted to work on a stage adaptation of this film for a long time," said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call's executive director and producer for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. "After many years of trying to obtain the rights to write an adaptation, I learned of Todd Kreidler's version and set out to present it at Curtain Call," he added, noting that Curtain Call is the first theatre in Connecticut to be licensed to present this new play.
Directed by veteran Curtain Call director, Debra Lee Failla (WHITE PLAINS, NY, the cast includes from MILFORD: Luke Lynch; from NORWALK: Lesli Allen, La Marr Taylor and Kevin Thompson; from RIDGEFIELD: Laura Blackwell; from STAMFORD: Nicole Neurohr, Toni Parker, and Ted Yudain; and from MOUNT VERNON, NY: George Croom. Production design is by Peter Barbieri, Jr. (FAIRFIELD), costume design by Terry Hanson (WHITE PLAINS, NY), with stage management by Jan Ursone and Laurie Priscott, (both of STAMFORD.)
"When planning this production more than a year ago," Ursone said, "I could think of no other director better-suited for this project than Deb and I was thrilled that she was available for this project."
"The racial issues that the piece touches on are still very much alive and relevant today. The play can be seen through the lens of any cultural difference, be it a Palestinian and an Israeli or a gay couple seeking their parents’ approval to marry," said Failla. "I want our audiences to understand the progress that’s been made but also just how glacial that pace of progress has been," she added.
When considering how controversial the topic of interracial marriage was at the time, it's amazing to think that the film had been in production several months before the historic Supreme Court ruling when Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the court's decision, "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival." "...Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State." To quote the song used in the film, "That's the story of, that's the glory of love."
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner will play in The Dressing Theatre from September 7 through 24; Thursday through Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Regular prices are $32 for adults, $25 for senior citizens and $16 for children (up to age 21). Thursday evenings – all seats $25. Discounted Flex Passes reduce prices by up to 30% off. Box Office: 203-461-6358 or online at www.curtaincallinc.com.
The remainder of Curtain Cal's 27th season includes Damn Yankees, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Sister Act, Is He Dead, Newsies, The Boys Next Door, A Comedy of Tenors and Superman the Musical, in addition to comedy nights, concerts and interactive murder mysteries.
More information is available at www.curtaincallinc.com or by calling 203-329-8207. Curtain Call is the non-profit community-based theatre company in residence at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions and workshops are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre. Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County's BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP ten years running in the Annual Readers' Poll of The Fairfield County Weekly and has received similar BEST OF awards from Stamford Magazine and StamfordPlus magazine for 2008 through 2016. Curtain Call received The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2011 and the ACE Award for Excellence in Arts & Culture from the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.