Cole Porter's 1956 film musical of Philip Barry's 1939 classic stage comedy, The Philadelphia Story, is Broadway bound, projected for Spring 1998. The first stop is San Francisco CA's American Conservatory Theatre, now in previews for at Sept. 10 opening and a run through Oct. 5.
Tony nominee Daniel McDonald, who played the marathon-dancing Atlantic City in Steel Pier, was recently added to the cast as the Philadelphian Main Liner, C.K. Dexter Haven.
Randy Graff, a Tony winner for City of Angels, is Connor's wise-cracking sidekick photographer, pursued all over the elegant Main Line premises by Tracy's randy unmarried uncle (John McMartin of Follies fame). Also featured in the Society cast are Lisa Banes (Arcadia), Michael Goodwin (Cyrano), Marc Kudisch (Gaston in Beauty & The Beast), and 13-year-old Lisbeth Zelle.
Christopher Renshaw, who drew acclaim and Tony consideration for the current Broadway revival of The King and I, directs the musical, which boasts a book by Arthur Kopit (Nine, Doctor Zhivago). Christoher D'Amboise, principal dancer of NYC Ballet, choreographs.
Aside from most of the songs from the movie, this new version has nothing to do with the British High Society that first reached the stage a few years ago with Natasha Richardson. The brand-new Yankee edition will be spiced with standards plus tunes from other Porter scores (all except those from Anything Goes and Kiss Me Kate).
Designing the A.C.T. High Society are Loy Arcenas (sets), Judith Anne Dolan (Candide's sole Tony-winner), Christopher Akerlind (lighting) and Tony Meola (sound).
This story of the humanization (through love) of a haughty aristocratic woman was written specifically for Katharine Hepburn because Barry liked the movie she did of his play, Holiday. The result, The Philadelphia Story, opened at Broadway's Shubert March 28, 1939, and revitalized Hepburn's sagging career. The roles of the ex-hubby, reporter, photographer and philanderer were originated by Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, Shirley Booth and Forrest Orr on stage and filmed a year later by Cary Grant, an Oscar-winning James Stewart, Ruth Hussey and Roland Young; in Porter's filmusical (which had Philadelphia's pre-princess, Grace Kelly, in the Hepburn role), those parts were essayed by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm and, in his last film, Louis Calhern.
The Dodgers are producing the show with Lauren Mitchell, the former actress and debuting producer. (She originated the title role in Kiss of the Spider Woman when that musical premiered at SUNY Purchase in the spring of 1990.)
For tickets ($14-$51) and information on High Society at ACT call (415) 749-2228.