Enjoy A ‘Roman Holiday’ This WeekendStephanie Styles and Drew Gehling

By Chris Narloch, photos by Joan Marcus

With temperatures heading upwards of 100 degrees this weekend, I can think of no better road trip than one to a cooler climate such as San Francisco.

And this weekend would be the perfect time to make the short drive over to the Bay Area for another reason as well.

It’s rare that NorCal theater fans get the opportunity to participate in the process of putting together a Broadway show, but that is, in effect, what is happening at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre, where ‘Roman Holiday A New Musical’ is having its pre-Broadway premiere engagement.

Elements of the show may have changed somewhat the next time you see ‘Roman Holiday,’’ and it's fun to see which details are kept the same and which are changed.Sara Chase and company

What hopefully won’t be changed are the songs, which are all chestnuts by the late, great Cole Porter (‘Night and Day,’ ‘Easy to Love,’ ‘You Do Something to Me’).

And the basic story, which is a charmer, will remain the same. (‘Roman Holiday A New Musical’ is based on a beloved 1953 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck about a bored princess who briefly runs away from her royal responsibilities and falls in love with a reporter.)

I hope too that ‘Roman Holiday’ holds on to its best performers, especially Sara Chase, Jarrod Spector, and Georgia Engel (who steals every scene she’s in).

The new musical has a strong supporting cast, but leads Stephanie Styles and Drew Gehling can’t quite match the star quality of Hepburn and Peck. Who could?

Of particular concern at the performance I saw was Styles’ attempt to recreate Hepburn’s inimitable speech patterns.

(Whether Styles or director Marc Bruni was responsible for that idea, I can’t say, but it should be abandoned if the show moves on so that Styles can create a character that is her own.)images/stories/00-2017/6-8-17/roDrew Gehling, Stephanie Styles, Sara Chase, Jarrod Spector

Other than that irritating quibble, I found the show to be a mostly strong adaptation of a movie that I, and many people, think is a classic.

But you’ll have to act fast, because ‘Roman Holiday A New Musical’ closes on June 18, 2017. For more information, please visit www.shnsf.com.

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