Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Philadelphia Story"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey

CLASSY 250th Anniversary for Vokes

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

"The Philadelphia Story" by Philip Barry is actually a classic frothy comic romp. You probably know George Cukor's sparkling movie about the high society girl who craves a down-to-earth guy. Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn will always be the quintessential dashing ex-husband and the haughty blueblood. So why, you might wonder, would a theater company attempt madcap mayhem in the shadow of screwball perfection?

Because it's such a delicious script --- and because the Vokes Players wants something spectacular to celebrate their 250th performance. Here's the good news:

Director Jennifer Lavin Howard's cast does the impossible: They make you forget the film and appreciate anew Barry's charming, well-crafted play. From JoAnne Powers' cheery performance as the stalwart matriarch to Shannon Connolly's plucky portrayal of the mischievous little sister, this ensemble smartly captures the mannered spirit of drawing room comedy.

Karen Binder as the "last of a breed" of young, rich, rapacious American females gives the kind of performance you don't easily forget: She positively glows from within and she possesses the comic timing which gives this confection its hilarious backbone.

Kudos, too, to Kimberly McClure as the sassy sidekick to John Greiner-Ferris' fast-talking reporter.

Ronald L. Dion's mainline mansion interior, and exterior terrace, are gloriously posh, as are Elizabeth E. Tustian's dreamy thirties gowns for Ms. Binder. Stu Perlmutter's lush lighting bathes the house in warm summer laughter. Just where you need to go when the real world out there gets a little too tough. Vokes does it again!

"The Philadelphia Story" (till 31 July)
Beatrice Herford's Vokes Theatre, Route 20, WAYLAND

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide