Jim Belushi is Harry Brock, a junk tycoon. He owns multiple junk yards and trades in steel. He is in Washington to buy senators who will craft legislation that will be favorable to his business. Billie Dawn, Ms. Arianda, is his ditsy, bubble-headed girlfriend, a former chorus-girl who once had four lines in Anything Goes.
Journalist, Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard), who is living just down the hall in the same swanky DC Hotel, is poking around trying to get an interview with Brock. Brock is so taken with him that he hires him to polish Billie Dawn; teach her about life in DC political circles and about life in general.
Jim Belushi, in his Broadway debut, holds his own and gives a credible performance as the oafish Brock. Robert Sean Leonard is charming in the unassuming role of the reporter who is Henry Higgins to Ms. Arianda’s Eliza Doolittle.
It is such fun to watch Ms. Arianda go from giggling, heavy drinking, beaten-down Billie to the joyful, engaged and confident Billie. Her comedic timing is impeccable as she plays the smartest dumb-blond you’ve ever seen.
This production is wonderful, even if it does take about a quarter of the play to fully engage you. It isn’t until Mr. Leonard and Ms. Arianda have their first on-stage encounter that things really pick up, once they do this production is electric. Director Doug Hughes has treated this piece elegantly. John Lee Beatty’s set beautifully recreates a high-class Washington hotel and Catherine Zuber’s costumes are simple, attractive and appropriate.
I know somewhere Judy Holliday is smiling down on this production. And what’s not to smile about? It’s a great production.