Recently we went to see the current production of Roman Holiday at the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis. It’s running through August 19th on their McGuire Proscenium Stage. The Guthrie has produced a fine musical leveraging the incredible music of Cole Porter and wrapped it around the famous film that originally starred Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn won Best Actress and the film won for screenplay and costume. While attending the play, we learned a bit more about the original film. Produced and directed by William Wyler, it was unusual that a film at its time was actually shot on location in Rome. This was not a common occurrence for film productions in or before 1953. Most of the time locations were re-created in sets. By shooting on location movie-goers were able to experience a Roman holiday for themselves. This was as delightful as the CGI used to surprise today’s movie-goers. The location became another character in the movie. Audiences were as much intrigued with the story as with their ability to lose themselves in the piazza’s of Rome with the other actors. It was a novel introduction into american movie making that we take for granted today.
In case you’re not familiar with the story of Roman Holiday, it’s about a princess (Anne) who escapes from her controlled surroundings long enough to spend a fun filled day as a common, normal person with a reporter (Joe) that turns romantic. He figures out early on who she really is, but doesn’t tell her that he knows and he seeks to use the opportunity to “cash in” on getting an exclusive interview and photos with one of Europe’s royals (in this case of an un-named country). Along the way, the princess exposes her own vulnerability in her hopes and dreams of living a “normal” life that isn’t scripted. The tiny bit of friction is introduced as Joe has to eventually decide whether to cash-in on his luck or whether he’ll help Anne keep her holiday and her dreams a secret in the eternal city. Does being true, loyal, caring, considerate and loving win out over the promise of easy money and getting what Joe’s been hoping for?
The choreography, acting and singing are wonderfully produced in this musical adaptation. Stephanie Rothenberg delivers a fantastic performance as Princess Anne in her first appearance at the Guthrie. And the rest of players have been superbly cast. If you’re looking for a really fun evening, we highly recommend it. If you’ve seen it or if you go, please comment back and tell us what you thought about it as we’d enjoy hearing what you have to say.