Calvin Theatre Company premieres “The Philadelphia Story”


Photo courtesy Calvin Theatre Company

On Thursday, November 17, audience members stepped into the Gezon Auditorium and were transported to the 1930s home of a fashionable and wealthy Philadelphia family, as the Calvin Theatre Company premiered its fall play, “The Philadelphia Story,” directed by Debra L. Freeberg.

Written by Philip Barry, the three-act play centers around Tracy Lord, a smart and beautiful young woman whose plans for her second marriage go — of course — quite awry with the arrival of some unexpected guests to her home: her ex-husband, her philandering and estranged father, and an intriguing but jaded journalist intent on decrying the luxuries of the rich Lord family to the public. As Tracy struggles to relate honestly to these men — and to her fiance, the self-made but bland George Kittredge — she realizes that she is also searching for her own identity.

The role of Tracy was originally brought to the stage by Katharine Hepburn during the play’s 1939 Broadway debut. She also starred in the 1940 film adaptation alongside Cary Grant and James Stewart. The role was inherited by CTC senior McKenna DeWyn, who brought grace and vitality to Tracy’s charm and acerbic wit.

The many newcomers making their CTC debut with “The Philadelphia Story” held their own. Joshua Boers, especially, brought humor and energy to the role of Sandy, Tracy’s brother — particularly in the second and third acts. Kudos also go to Aaron Potter (Uncle Willie), Kate Sinke (Elizabeth Imbrie) and Jules Camp (Dinah Lord) for their entertaining performances.

Calvin alumna Karyn Ostrem attended on opening night and named Sandy, Uncle Willie and Dr. Parsons (played by Hao Nguyen) as her favorite characters, saying that “as side characters they did everything to add to the character of the story without taking away from the main characters’ escapades.” She also thought that Camp “did an excellent job” playing Tracy’s younger sister, who “makes her own fun by sticking her nose in all the adults’ business.”

Props must be given (excuse the pun) to the set and wardrobe designers as well. The set was a gorgeous piece of time travel magic, and, according to Ostrem, “the characters seemed right at home on it.” Tracy’s gowns, among all of the period costumes, were particularly dazzling.

Junior Blair Coats, a stage manager for the production, said that “The Philadelphia Story” is “the best play the CTC has put on.” The skill and dedication of the Company indeed paid off with a beautiful and entertaining play. As Tracy comments in the second act, “My, she was yar.”