by J.D. Oxblood
Nina Arianda, as Billie Dawn in the Broadway revival of “Born Yesterday” at the Cort Theatre, is as thrilling and tantalizing as cherry champagne. You know there’s something unusual about it but you can’t stop going back for more. She may be sweet, but there’s nothing cheap or headache-inducing about this intoxicant: from strutting about in a negligee that would make most burlesque performers jealous, to trying to escape unnoticed at the bar while sporting stockings seamed from the baseboards to the heavens, to buckling her legs up underneath her in childlike excitement at her developing mind, to scalding her would-be lover with a styptic stare that blasts Broadway with the terrifying force of womanhood. Following in the footsteps of Judy Holiday and Madeline Kahn, Arianda has her work cut out for her and is waxing it, turning in a subtly nuanced performance that is sexy and hysterical, while bringing the empowering text to life.
See it for Arianda’s costumes. See it because Vincent Caruso, one of the show’s producers, is a friend to the burlesque community. Or just go see it. Because the revival of “Born Yesterday” is a gleeful slap in the face, downright thrilling and motherfucking hilarious.
(Ed. Note: we’re allowed to say “motherfucking” about Broadway now, thanks to Stephen Adly Guirgis and Chris Rock.)