With opening night a week away, final touches were put on Broadway's High Society April 21. Press representative Susanne Tighe confirmed that "Why Don't We Try Staying Home?" a second-act song sung by Seth and Margaret Lord, the parents of heroine Tracy Lord, has been cut from the show.
The purpose of Broadway previews is to make just these kinds of changes, especially on big new musicals.
High Society, which is due to open Apr. 27 at the St. James Theatre, has undergone other changes in recent weeks as well. Director Des McAnuff and choreographer Wayne Cilento were brought in to assist the show's Christopher Renshaw and Lar Lubovitch -- production sources say they have replaced Renshaw and Lubovitch in all but name -- resulting in the cancellation of the Apr. 18 and 20 matinees. Additionally, two numbers from Act I, "I Worship You" and "I Am Loved," were previously cut during previews. A revised version of Act II went into performance Apr. 21, with more story-specific lyrics by Susan Birkenhead added to some of Porter's originals.
High Society is based on the 1956 Cole Porter film of the same name, which, in turn, was based on Philip Barry's 1939 play The Philadelphia Story. The Broadway show includes most of the songs from the movie, along with various tunes selected from other Porter musicals, plus some trunk songs. The cast features Melissa Errico as Tracy; Daniel McDonald as her ex-husband, Dexter; John McMartin as Uncle Willie, Stephen Bogardus as reporter Macaulay Conner, Betsy Joslyn as the Cook, and Randy Graff as Conner's sidekick photographer, Liz Imbrie. The musical began life at the American Conservatory of Music in San Francisco in the fall of 1997.
A bit of trivia: the aforementioned McMartin appeared in another pastiched Cole Porter musical: Happy New Year, which ran Apr. 27-May 10, 1980. Based on a different Barry play Holiday, that show interpolated such Porter songs as "Ridin' High" "Once Upon A Time" (both in High Society) and "I Am Loved" (recently cut from Society). *
Designing High Society are Loy Arcenas (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes; Judith Dolan did the costumes at ACT); and Tony Meola (sound). Christopher Akerlind did the lighting in San Francisco, but Howell Binkley will light the New York production.
High Society tells the story of the humanization (through love) of a haughty, aristocratic woman, a part originally 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 brought to film a year later by Cary Grant, James Stewart (who won an Oscar), Ruth Hussey and Roland Young; in Porter's film musical (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 stage 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.)
Tickets to High Society can be ordered at (212) 239-6200. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.