Jan. 15, 1971:
The play “40 Carats” shined like a diamond when it opened at the Masonic Temple on a Friday night.
The comedy deals with a middle-aged woman who had a summer fling with a young man who helped her when her car broke down on Greek Island. Months later, the young man arrives at the woman’s home to take her daughter on a date.
The show starred Barbara Britton, a veteran of the film industry who starred in many movies in the 1940s, in the lead role of Ann Stanley. The cast also included Robert Dannenberg as the summer fling, Peter Latham; Tracy Brooks Swope as the daughter, Trina; Nancy Cushman as Ann’s mother; Robert Darnell as Ann’s ex-husband, Billy Boylan; Ed Fuller as Peter’s father; and Barbara Stanton as Ann’s assistant.
The review by Scranton Times Editor Sid Benjamin gave high marks to Britton, Darnell and Stanton’s performances. He called out the performances by Fuller and Cushman, however, by saying, “If you could go to jail for over-acting, Lackawanna County Prison would have several additional inmates before the ’40 Carats’ company leaves town.”
The opening night audience loved the show, though, with its applause drawing out two curtain calls. There might have been a third, but stagehands had problems opening and closing the curtain, and there was worry that the curtain could fail.
Beno Levy, president of Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania, promised the curtain would be fixed before the next performance.
“40 Carats” marked the mid-point of the 1970-71 season for Broadway Theatre. The season started in September 1970 with historical musical “1776,” followed by the play “Adaptation/Next” in November. Following “40 Carats,” the theater league presented two comedies, “Hadrian VII” in February 1971 and Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” that April. The season ended in May with a musical, “Zobra.”
In July, Britton returned to the area to once again perform in “40 Carats,” this time at Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome. Britton’s daughter, Christopher Czukor, joined her this time in the role of Trina.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast