2024-05-20 11:42 AM

Creative Cauldron Refashions Audrey Hepburn in ‘Audrey: The New Musical’

Recreating Audrey Hepburn’s “Roman Holiday” film shoot in “Audrey: The New Musical.” (Photo: William Gallagher.)

Creative Cauldron’s excellent production “Audrey” brings classic Hollywood to Falls Church! Aficionados of the films of classic Hollywood will love the “Audrey” The New Musical,” now on stage at Creative Cauldron of Falls Church. Directed adroitly by Laura Conners Hull, the show centers on the life and film career of famed movie actress Audrey Hepburn.

The show is structured as a series of crosscuts between Audrey’s early life of deprivation and turmoil in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation and her later life of Hollywood luxury, glamor, and success. Scenes and backgrounds are drawn from some of most celebrated Hepburn films, including “Roman Holiday,” Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Charade,” and “My Fair Lady.”

Central to the success of this production is Rebecca Ballinger in the title role. She not only resembles the legendary film star in physical appearance, but also imitates Hepburn’s continentally-flavored British accent and mannerisms. Audrey’s relationship with her Hollywood actor husband Mel Ferrar (Santiago Alfonzo) is covered in detail, pivoting around Ferrar’s ability to encourage Audrey as well as complications in the relationship, often connected to the differing priorities of husband and wife. The song “My Husband Doesn’t Run,” sung passionately by actress Ballinger, conveys Audrey’s take on this relationship.

We also meet many of her famous co-stars, including Gregory Peck (Garrett Mathews), William Holden (Ricky Drummond), and Humphrey Bogart (Patrick Mahoney). While less effort is made to represent these Hollywood legends in terms of appearance or voice, this serves to focus our attention on Audrey Hepburn herself. The sets similarly lean towards the minimal, although slides and videos of cast members are used to impresive effect to broaden the visual scope of the show.

“Audrey” does especially well in recreating the star’s dresses, gowns, and costumes from classic Hepburn films. Indeed, legendary Academy Award-winning costume designer Edith Head, who designed Audrey’s clothes for many of her films, is a major character of the play, portrayed convincingly by Bianca Lipford. This aspect of the play acknowledges the often-underappreciated role of costume designers in the creation of a Hollywood legend. The fabulous fashions recreated for this production include Audrey’s dolce vita around-town outfit from “Roman Holiday” and the gorgeous Victorian costumes from “My Fair Lady.”

The choreography of Morgan Arravillaga is excellent, notably in the recreation of the dance scene from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (complete with the main character wearing her iconic black dress and holding her long cigarette holder as she dances). We note here that choreographer Arravillaga is also outstanding in her role as the teenage Audrey, especially in a scene in which the future movie star assists the Dutch resistance to Nazi occupation at great personal risk.

The show’s music provides ambience (as in background music suggesting the Hepburn comedy spy thriller “Charade”) and, more often, advances the plot and underscores character motivations. “Fifth Avenue,” in the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” sequence of the production, is particularly good in both regards. Santiago Alfonza, as Mel Ferrar, is memorable for his standout singing performance of the production in his piece “If.”

Owing to Audrey Hepburn’s fascinating life during a pivotal time of twentieth-century history as well as to her humanitarian work, we think the production will be of interest beyond that of vintage film buffs. The show, based on the book, lyrics, and music of Danielle E. Moore, runs through June 4. For more information, please visit: www.creativecauldron.org Masks are required. Note: As printed programs are not provided, theatre patrons are encouraged to download programs at Audrey Program (canva.com)

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