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PTC presents a 1930s comedy, 'The Philadelphia Story'

By Sarah Sanders Petersen

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Jan. 6 2013 3:00 p.m. MST

Think tuxedos, pinstripes and romance. This smart and classy plot of "The Philadelphia Story," once made famous by Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart and Cary Grant, will hit the stage at the Pioneer Theatre Company on Jan. 11.

The classic 1930s romantic comedy revolves around a young, sophisticated and extremely wealthy socialite, Tracy Lord, who is engaged to the man of her dreams -- or so she thinks at the time. But leave it to her debonair ex-husband, along with two keen reporters, to put a halt to the wedding and all of Lord's plans.

The leading role, Tracy Lord, is played by New York actress Allison McLemore. Having performed with the PTC recently in "Dracula," McLemore was excited to come back for the performance of this glamorous '30s tale.

"It's a funny story that is not afraid to touch on some deeper issues," McLemore said. "It's not going to hit you on the head; the message is there but you get it by watching the story. You watch these people and learn from them and laugh at them as they make mistakes and share in their humanity -- and hopefully walk out having learned a little bit about life and themselves. It's a comedy with a message."

New York actor Jay Stratton, who plays Lord's fiance George Kittredge, explained the style and attitude of the play.

"It hearkens back to a not-so-distant gentle era when people would 'dress for dinner' and that term meant something," Stratton said. "There is something about seeing these elite people who duel with each other by word. When people talk about wit, this is what they mean."

The other two men in the picture are C.K. Dexter Haven, Lord's ex-husband, and Macaulay Connor, the journalist. Haven is played by Broadway and New York actor Todd Gearhart, while Connor's role is performed by Broadway and New York actor Todd Lawson.

And it just so happens with this cast that the romance continues off the stage. For one of the first times in both of their careers, McLemore is joined on the stage with her husband, Stratton (Lord's fiance).

"It's been amazing," McLemore said. "To have him (Stratton) here, especially since I'm in such a large part -- and it's fun, but it's also a little stressful -- and so to have my husband to come home to at night is awesome. It's been a real gift, especially over the holidays, to get to be working and to be with my husband was pretty special."

Pioneer Theatre also snatched up the young up-and-coming actress from the recent film "Christmas Oranges," Bailee Johnson. Johnson has wowed many already just in practice as she prepares to shine in her role of the younger sister, Dinah Lord.

"She is fantastic; she is going to steal the show," McLemore said. "There are moments when I'm like, 'Do I even need to come into work?' because we're just going to put Bailee on stage and everyone is going to love it."

The production will run from Jan. 11-26 at the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre (300 S. 1400 East, Salt Lake City). Starting times are Monday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; and Saturday matinees, 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at www.pioneertheatre.org or at the box office. Prices range from $25 to $44 in advance and are an additional $5 when purchased the day of the performance. Children in grades K-12 are half price on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor from Brigham Young University.

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