The romantic comedy, inspired by real people who were part of Philly's Main Line society, began previews March 9. According to Walnut Street notes, "Playwright Philip Barry not only paid tribute to Philadelphia in the show’s title, but he actually drew his inspiration for his leading character from the lavish lifestyle of the Main Line social icon Hope Montgomery Scott. Barry and his wife were friends of Mrs. Scott and her husband Edgar Scott, who attended Yale with Barry. The Barrys visited the Scotts at their spectacular 750-acre Villanova estate, Ardrossan. But the resemblance to Hope Montgomery Scott ended there. The Philadelphia Story's scintillating situations and romantic complications were all Barry's invention."
Barry's Main Line family is called Lord and the elder daughter, Tracy, is about to get married for the second time, following her terrible marriage to C.K. Dexter Haven.
The day before her wedding, a scandal about Tracy's estranged father threatens to explode. To prevent publication of an unflattering feature on Mr. Lord, the bride-to-be submits to having her wedding covered by a journalist and a photographer. These interlopers are there to get "The Philadelphia Story," and the Lords, led by Tracy, oblige with gusto.
The play opened on Broadway in 1939 with Katharine Hepburn as Tracy and featured Joseph Cotton, Van Heflin and Shirley Booth. M.G.M. produced the classic film version that teamed Cary Grant and James Stewart (who won the Academy Award) with Hepburn. In the 1950s, M.G.M. went on to produce High Society, a Cole Porter musical version of the material, starring Philadelphia's Grace Kelly as Tracy, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. A Broadway version of the musical flopped in 1998.
Canadian director Malcolm Black stages the play at Walnut Street, following his work on last season's staging of The Voysey Inheritance. Broadway and Walnut veteran Jessica Boevers (Ado Annie of Oklahoma! recently) is Tracy, Steve Wilson is C.K. Dexter Haven, Blair Williams plays journalist Macaulay "Mike" Connor, the other Lords are Ian D. Clark, Jenna Miller, Jared Reed, Ellen Tobie and Robin Ward. Alicia Roper plays photographer Liz Imbrie and Scott Greer appears Tracy's future husband George Kittredge.
The company includes Sharon Alexander, Mark Binder, Tim Moyer and Dan Schiff.
For tickets and information, call (215) 574-3550 or visit the Walnut website at www.wstonline.org.