Celebrate romance with Theatre Macon’s ‘Philadelphia Story’

May 23, 2014 


Stuart Appleton plays Tracy Lord’s fiance, George Kittredge, right, who is getting a hug from Lord’s former husband, Dexter Haven, in Theatre Macon’s production of “The Philadelphia Story.”

BEAU CABELL/THE TELEGRAPH — bcabell@macon.com

Theatre Macon Director Jim Crisp said he’s been waiting a long time to stage “The Philadelphia Story,” which opens Friday night.

“The play ‘Philadelphia Story,’ by Philip Barry, is one that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Crisp. “I read this play in college before I saw the movie. Not long after that, I saw the old film with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, Jimmy Stuart, Ruth Roman and a bunch of wonderful actors. It has been one of my favorites ever since.”

Coming as a contrast to their recent production of “Avenue Q,” he feels the time is now right for it.

“I wanted to wind up this particular season with something that our older patrons would especially appreciate, but that our newer and younger patrons would find entertaining,” he said. “I wanted to find something that would contrast ‘Avenue Q’ and I wanted to offer the subscribers who would choose not to see ‘Avenue Q’ something that made it up to them.”

The story follows Philadelphia heiress Tracy Lord, who throws out her playboy husband, Dexter Haven, shortly after their marriage. Two years later, Lord is about to marry again, this time to respectable George Kittredge. However, in the days before her wedding, Haven arrives at Lord’s mansion with a writer and a photographer determined to spoil things, and Lord is forced to make some hard decisions about life and love.

Crisp said the play requires a special combination of actors to carry the roles in “Philadelphia Story.”

“There must be a certain grace to carry the sophisticated, polished lives that this class of people lived and we are fortunate to be able to capture their essence on our stage. ... This is the best example of a drawing room comedy of manners by an American playwright with an American vernacular that I know. It is witty and charming and intimate.”

Fortunately, he said he found “the perfect cast.”

“Everyone wants to know who is playing the role Katherine Hepburn played, because it is so daunting. We have a wonderful actress, Rachel Chabot, whose real life husband, Jeff Chabot, is playing the Cary Grant role. They carry it off beautifully. They have phenomenal chemistry on stage,” he said. “The Jimmy Stuart role is played by Steven Smith, who carries it off effortlessly with great wit and style. He is a marvelous foil for Rachel’s character. The Ruth Roman role is played by Liane Trieman, who plays the photographer and sidekick to Smith’s character.”

Of course, to really transport the audience to the play’s era, costumes and sets are key features of the production.

“Our costumer, Shelley Kuhen, excels at dressing people in this era. It’s set just before World War II and it captures the more mundane parts of life -- affairs and family disagreements. ... Normally, you would have to see a piece like this at a professional regional theater to see it done well, because of the style and sophistication. It demands polished and experienced actors -- and we have them. I am enamored of what we have accomplished. It will look lovely, sound lovely, and it’s a perfect play for the end of the season. It celebrates romance and family bonds and the domestic home front. It’s a vivid exploration of this.”

“The Philadelphia Story”

When: 8 p.m. May 23-24, 30-31; 2:30 p.m. May 25; 7:30 p.m. May 28-29

Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.

Cost: $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 students

Information: 478-746-9485, www.theatremacon.com

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