Thursday November 23rd 2017

The Philadelphia Story

Try to imagine the days before the Internet, the days when gossip columns were a selling point in the newspaper industry. Now let us look at the powerful, delightful story written by Philip  Barry, that was a wonderful movie many years ago and has been translated to the stage with just the right touch by  a charming cast in Circle Theatre’s production of “The Philadelphia Story”. Jim Schneider’s direction is flawless as is the cast he has assembled to make this movie come to life on the small stage of the Circle in Forest Park. Bob Knuth has designed a set that is very realistic and every little detail is fitting of the times. We are in the late 30’s/Early 40’s in the home of  the Lord Family. Tracy ( a delightful character played with just the right touch by Laura McClain) is about to get married ( for a second time) to the very successful George Kittredge ( Luke Renn). The house is a buzz over a scandal sheet story about Tracy’s father, a producer and business mogul who has been linked to the star of several of his productions, so the press is invited to divert the story on  Mr. Lord, in order to write a story about the “Philadelphia Story”.

The story is much more than this as Tracy’s first husband, Dexter (  deftly handled by Kevin Anderson) shows up. Tracy’s brother  Sandy ( Doug Pawlik) also awriter has plotted this all so that the heat will be taken off his father and the writer , Mike ( handled with a nice touch by Josh Hambrock) finds himself falling for the outlandish Tracy. His photgrapher, Liz ( a wonderful job by the  beautiful Jhenai Mootz, who handles dry humor with pizzaz) it turns out is in love with Mike. What happens during this 2 1/2 hour three act play is a lot of twists and turns during the parties held at the Lord Estate prior to the wedding- most of them very funny and as it turns out a learning experience for all concerned. What seems to be, is not as it appears.

These are rich, spoiled, upper-class people who live in an unreal world until all hell breaks loose and they begin to come to terms with reality. Love is a real emotion and it is okay to feel this emotion. In fact, it is best to marry for love rather than status. There is by the way, a very happy ending for almost all the characters- at least those who deserve a happy ending! There are some wonderful supporting players as well. Peter Esposito is a riot as Uncle Willie, Mary Pavia as Tracy’s mother Margaret, the adorable Katelyn Smith as little sister Dinah, Tom Viskocil as Tracy’s father and Tom Schutt and Gregory Payne round out the cast. Comedy is about timing and  Schneider and his cast truly got it right!

The tech people involved in this production also made for a quality production; Chelsea Lynn’s lighting, Elizabeth Wislar’s costumes and prop designer Arlene Page. The sound design, which in this production is the musical interludes between scenes and acts is handled with just the right sounds by Peter J. Storms. It is always a pleasure to see what Circle does with their low budget to make sure that every little detail is handled to perfection. The story is one that fits today’s times just as it did years ago, but without the Internet and late night television shows to let us in. Circle Theatre has let us in and done so with a bang!

The Circle Theatre is located at 7300 West Madison Street ( just a block west of Harlem Avenue) in Forest Park, just a hop,skip and a jump from the loop and easy to get to. Parking is available, as well as public transportation and there are several inexpensive dining spots in the area. “The Philadelphia Story” will continue through September 5th with performances as follows:

Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Sunday at 3 p.m.

Tickets are a mere$20 on Friday and $24 on Saturday and Sunday with a $2 discount for students and seniors.

call  708-771-0700 to reserve your spot as this is a storefront and very intimate. You can also visit


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