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Theater review: 'Born Yesterday' -- 3.5 stars

born yesterday

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Born Yesterday

3.5 stars

A major Broadway revival of Garson Kanin’s crowd-pleasing 1946 comedy “Born Yesterday,” which originally ran for four years and made a star out of Judy Holliday, has been long overdue.

The play, which revolves around corruption in big business and politics, couldn’t be timelier. And the acting in Doug Hughes’ excellent new production couldn’t be better or more thrilling, especially from actor Jim Belushi and newcomer Nina Arianda.

It centers on the relationship between corrupt junk dealer Harry Brock (Belushi) and his quirky blonde bombshell of a mistress, Billie Dawn (Arianda).

Harry, who is settling down in Washington in order to champion new legislation that would significantly increase his profits, decides that he needs to make Billie more presentable and less crass.

In a “My Fair Lady” kind of twist, he enlists reporter Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard) to educate her. But in doing so, Billie loses her blissful ignorance and gains the confidence to question Harry’s duplicitous dealings and finally leave him.

Arianda gained attention last season as a temptress in “Venus in Fur” Off-Broadway. She delivers a playful and sexy performance here that is truly a joy to watch.

Belushi is surprisingly intense as the sloppy, self-centered Harry. In addition to nailing all the humor and providing a burly presence, he highlights the character’s dangerous and abusive qualities.

If you go: “Born Yesterday” plays an open run at the Cort Theatre. 138 W. 48th St., 212-239-6200, BornYesterdayOnBroadway.com

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