Chic, voguish play 'The Philadelphia Story' lights up PTC stage

By Sarah Sanders Petersen

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 14 2013 5:04 p.m. MST

Todd Lawson (Macaulay Connor) and Allison McLemore (Tracy Lord) perform in "The Philadelphia Story," which is playing at Pioneer Theatre Company through Jan. 26.

Alex Weisman

“THE PHILADELPHIA STORY,” Pioneer Theatre Company, through Jan. 26 (801-581-6961 or tickets.pioneertheatre.org)

There were chandeliers, glamorous dresses and witty banter that easily transformed the Simmons Pioneer Theatre into a true ’30s tale.

Actors, set designers and directors definitely succeeded in creating a time warp for audience members in what leading actress Allison McLemore said was their goal: “We hope to transport you to this world.”

This romantic comedy focuses on the most enchanting part of the era in an endearing and glamorous way, setting the stage at the Lord family mansion. Although the set doesn’t change much, switching from the living room to the patio, the quick word play and ever-evolving plot allow the 2½-hour production to move along quickly.

Tracy Lord (McLemore), a 20-something fashionist, has lived a pampered life in which she has grown accustomed to acting somewhat like a princess.

After going through a divorce with her childhood love, C.K. Dexter Haven (Todd Gearhart), Lord first appears on stage collecting wedding presents as she prepares for her second wedding to the good-natured George Kittredge (Jay Stratton). True love finally seems to have come her way — that is, until a few unexpected guests visit the Lord home just days before the wedding, including the handsome journalist/writer Macaulay Connor (Todd Lawson).

Doubts begin as Lord struggles to understand who she really could see herself marrying.

The happy-go-lucky feeling disappears after Lord spends the evening with a man who is not her fiance and participates in an ugly fight with her father. The morning of her wedding arrives, and Lord finds herself with three men pining for her hand.

It is in the middle of this conundrum when Lord comes to the realization that “the time to make up your mind about people is never,” alluding to her choice in companionship as well as her hope for how others view herself.

McLemore is truly convincing as her character goes through several extreme emotions: in love, distraught, intoxicated and content.

The character remains very likable throughout the play, even with her god-like attitude and questionable moral choices.

The comedic act shines through in the character of Dinah Lord, played by young local actress Bailee Johnson.

Although not a leading role, Johnson’s lines kept the audience alive as she spoke her mind and gave the perfect taste of satire, including a musical performance that sparked lots of audience laughter. Other characters contributed with witty remarks, yet Johnson won the hearts of many.

The production has some mild language.

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

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