Rick Wright couldn’t help but worry about finding his title character when casting for “Sabrina Fair,” Edmonds Driftwood Players’ latest production
The romantic comedy, staged through June 24 in Edmonds, is about a zestful young woman testing the waters of love. She wants nothing less than a full and happy life — and someone special to spend it with.
“If we don’t have a ‘Sabrina,’ we don’t have a show,” said Wright, director of the show.
He didn’t have to worry long.
“I found a Sabrina who’s just brilliant,” Wright said. “I think they’re (the audience) just going to fall in love with her.”
The title role is played by Rebecca Erickson, a 24-year-old Shoreline resident, who previously appeared in the theater’s production of “Dracula” last year.
Wright says Erickson captures the exuberant nature of Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of a chauffeur for the wealthy Larrabee family. The story is set on Long Island in the 1950s. Sabrina has just returned home after working in Paris for five years.
Her experiences overseas have changed her. She’s no longer the shy girl the Larrabees knew growing up. She is sophisticated and passionate about life.
Sabrina still has a crush on the youngest Larrabee son, David (played by Nathaniel Thomsen). David’s brother, Linus Larrabee Jr. (Asa Sholdez), senses Sabrina’s feelings for David and helps the two fall in love for his own amusement.
But then a rich Frenchman (James Milton) Sabrina was courted by in Paris shows up in New York and proposes to her.
Which man will Sabrina choose? Will she marry for love or money? Each man represents a different life path.
“At its core, it’s dealing with real human issues, despite the time its set in,” Wright said. “It’s a story that people have experienced over time, coming into a world or a place in society that you feel you don’t belong, and struggling to be taken seriously in that place.”
At the same time, Sabrina’s father worries how a chauffeur’s daughter mixing with a wealthy family will look.
“Even the father is upset that she might marry for money and not love,” Wright said. “He’s a very respected and dignified man. He doesn’t want that scandal and someone saying, ‘your daughter sold herself to a millionaire.’ ”
Erickson acted in high school, but pursued music in college. Three years ago, one of her former directors called her, in desperate need of a lead actress for a play to be performed for the Lights of Christmas festival in Stanwood.
“It ended up being an awesome experience,” Erickson said. “I love (acting). As long as people keep casting me, then it’s something I’m going to continue doing.”
Though she doesn’t have as much acting experience as her peers, Wright said Erickson has a knack for portraying the Sabrina character.
“I have people with much longer resumes who aren’t as fluid as her on stage,” Wright said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been this impressed with an actress.”
Erickson is still quick to admit her flaws.
“The hardest part for me is not sounding like a complete idiot speaking in French,” Wright said.
The play by Samuel A. Taylor, which debuted on Broadway in 1953, was praised by critics for its script, production and wit. Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden starred in the 1954 film adaptation — which is vastly different from the play.
“There aren’t a lot of people alive who have seen the play as it was intended,” Wright said. “I really went out of my way to stay with the author’s intent.”
Wright refrained from adding in silly bits from the movie for laughs. Instead, this production of “Sabrina Fair” relies on its original clever dialogue.
“It’s comedy with class,” Wright said.
Evan Thompson; 360-544-2999; email@example.com. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.
If you go
Edmonds Driftwood Players present “Sabrina Fair” at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through June 24 at Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St., Edmonds. Tickets are $28, or $25 for juniors, seniors, military. Call 425-774-9600.
More at www.edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org.