Review "The Philadelphia Story": McClain Channels Hepburn's Ghost!

Circle Theatre presents

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THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

In Forest Park, 7300 W. Madison

Written by Philip Barry

Directed by Jim Schneider

Thru September 5th

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Running Time:  Two hours and twenty minutes includes two intermissions

 

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

 

'Now, gentle reader...'  The paparazzi 's fascination with Paris Hilton types is not a modern day phenomena.  Reporters have been covering the shocking lives of the rich and famous through the ages.  Why? Because gentle readers love getting the dirt on the pampered wealthy.   Circle Theatre presents THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, a 1930's play turned Academy Award winning classic film.  Socialite Tracy Lord is getting married for the second time. Her father's affair with a dancer threatens to be exposed in print. To bypass the media blitz, the family agrees to give a reporter and photographer an all access exclusive to Tracy's marriage to a self-made coal miner turned executive.   The fluff piece seems perfectly scandal-free until Tracy's uninvited father and ex-husband show up.  Champagne indulgence leads to a skinny-dipping potential cover story except now the journalist isn't just writing the article.  He IS in the piece.   THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is a tabloid tale about exposing an affair...but whose?

 

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Laura McClain is yare!  Channeling Kate Hepburn, McClain delivers her lines with flawless inflection and perfect resolution.  'Things I thought were terribly important aren't.'  McClain descends from on-a-pedestal to in-the-gutter with charming flair.    Josh Hambrock (Mike) is the cynical reporter turned carefree playboy with a few drinks.  'All writers drink to excess and beat their wives.'  Hambrock is fun as he lets loose in his sworn enemy territory.  Jhenai Mootz (Liz) is the strong, steady girl Friday.   She delivers her romantic sensibilities with an understated spunk.  Although lacking the one-of-a kind Cary Grant pizzazz, Kevin Anderson (Dexter) radiates an amused smugness that suggests the play's plot is his character's plot.  Under the direction of Jim Schneider, the pacing is tight and the cast plays their parts with high society distinction.  Philip Barry's script has transcended time with relatable family dysfunction illustrated with brilliant comedic lines.  Despite the cast hitting their humorous marks, the Sunday matinee crowd seemed unusually somber.  

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From formal attire to silk robe, the costumes are 1930's decadent.  Costume designer Elizabeth Powell Wislar has dressed and redressed the cast with stylish detail.  They dress for lunch and fashionably. Mega wardrobe changes add to the luxurious setting.  Adding to the affluent showcase, Scenic Designer Bob Knuth has created a parlor with adjoining patio.  Portraits and elegant knick-knacks create an aristocratic ambiance.  It's in the details and sound designer Peter J. Storms adds his special touch with typewriting clacking and bird twittering to enrich the experience.  Circle Theatre has dressed up beautifully THE PHILADELPHIA  STORY.  Climb aboard a romantic contemplation of what makes True Love sail.   And don't forget to laugh, it's a comedy!

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