Bogie and Bacall: Goodbye and Hurry Back
Way before Brad and Angelina, and even before Liz and Richard, were Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Silver screen icons whose legendary love affair is as much a part of Hollywood history as their illustrious careers, Bogart and Bacall's marriage lasted only twelve years, yet it cemented their impeccable image as the quintessential power couple and set the standard for stardom and glamour within the celebrity arena.
Epic Theatre Company and The Arctic Playhouse present "Bogie and Bacall: Goodbye and Hurry Back," the latest biographical sketch from Lenny Schwartz, a local legend in his own right, whose stage subjects have included Lucille Ball, The Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton. With a 75-minute running time, "Bogie and Bacall" isn't as lengthy or detailed as Schwartz's previous non-fiction works and offers an abridged version of the titular stars' careers on screen, focusing instead on their seemingly star-crossed romance.
The opening scene of this black box production, dutifully directed by Jennifer Rich, introduces Lauren "Betty" Bacall (Christine Pavao), a young model on her way to Hollywood from New York, accompanied by singer-songwriter Earl Robinson (Mary Paolino). Upon arrival, Bacall meets director Howard Hawks (Michael Daniels) -- the era's David O. Russell -- who immediately takes a liking to her style and spunk, and casts her opposite Humphrey Bogart (Justin Pimentel), already a household name, in his upcoming film, "To Have and Have Not."
Needless to say, sparks fly between the two, and despite the age difference and Bogart's marriage to hard-drinking actress, Mayo Methot (Hannah Lum), they begin spending quality time together, both on and off the set, and fall madly in love. When Bogart refuses to leave Methot, Bacall angrily ends the affair, but their separation is only temporary. Hawks reunites them in "The Big Sleep," and they get married shortly thereafter.
Early on, Hawks proclaims that Bogart and Bacall have "undeniable chemistry" and the same holds true for Pavao and Pimentel. Both actors are adorable to watch and deliver especially tender performances that make it remarkably easy to believe they are smitten with each other. From the moment they meet cute until Bogart speaks to Bacall from the grave, their scenes together are the forlorn foundation of this piece, and they never disappoint.
Considering Bacall alone wrote two autobiographies and that she lived almost another six decades after Bogart died, the script examines only a brief period of her personal and professional life. It touches upon her dubious relationship with Frank Sinatra (Micaiah Castro), which Bacall herself admitted wasn't that interesting, and the last few minutes, when Bogart learns he is dying, feel a bit rushed.
No matter, though, because "Bogie and Bacall" is a worthwhile visit to old Hollywood with two icons whose names will forever be synonymous with class.
"Bogie and Bacall: Goodbye and Hurry Back" runs through March 25 at The Arctic Playhouse, 117 Washington Street in West Warwick. For information and tickets, call 401-573-3443 or visit www.thearcticplayhouse.com