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Playhouse mingles with high society

Tracy Lord  (played by Tara Hizon) struggles to remember what took place on the eve of her second wedding while her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (played by Dustin Amundson), watches amused. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Tracy Lord (played by Tara Hizon) struggles to remember what took place on the eve of her second wedding while her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (played by Dustin Amundson), watches amused.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Act I: “So much for Historical Philadelphia, so much for Industrial. Now, Gentle Reader, consider an entire section of American Society which, closely following the English tradition, lives...”

Lives on what really? Well, it thrives on scandal. Survives on gossip. Walks on eggshells. But lives? This branch of American society simply lives in luxury.

Meet the Lord family. This is their life, and this is their story: The Philadelphia Story.

“The Philadelphia Story” opens Friday at the Whidbey Playhouse. Based on the 1940 movie starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the play centers on the beautiful socialite Tracy Lord who finds herself torn between three men on the night before her second wedding. Throughout a whirlwind of name-calling, mishaps, mistakes and midnight kisses, Tracy tries to discover who she is and what it means to love.

The Playhouse stage has been decorated with classic furniture and adorned with dozens of flowers for the romantic comedy. As lights hit the soft, sultry scene, the audience is instantly pulled into the Lords’ hilarious world of appearances, media leeches and nonstop bickering.

Director Mary Lou Chandler said the cast worked very hard during the holiday season to get the production ready, and she worked hard to condense the three-act script into two.

The dialogue is masterfully carried by the actors who seem perfectly matched to their roles. While the cast does have a few Playhouse veterans in its ranks, many of the participants are first-timers, though one would never know it.

“We love our characters,” said Dustin Amundson, who plays Tracy’s ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven in the play.

“Mary Lou knew the whole thing would work just based on our back and forth,” said Rusty Hendrix, who plays Phoebe the maid. “We have that dynamic. We’re like a family.”

But the star of the show is truly Tara Hizon, a longtime island resident, who plays Tracy. Hizon’s poise and quick wit make her not-so-nice character a privilege to watch and a woman to shamelessly admire.

“Tracy is a bully, but she’s fun to play, I’m not gonna lie,” Hizon said.

Amundson pointed out that Hizon dyed her hair red for the performances, proving her dedication to the part.

“She’s amazing,” he said. “She doesn’t resemble Katharine Hepburn; I think Katharine Hepburn resembles her.”

The play is geared toward an older audience as most of the innuendo and jokes are mature in nature and make fun of social norms and stereotypes.

But those who can appreciate some fun adult humor will enjoy watching the love triangle, or rather, love quadrilateral, unfold.

Get your tickets

Opening night for “The Philadelphia Story” is Friday, Jan. 28, with performances running Thursday through Sunday, closing on Feb. 13.

To purchase tickets and for more information, contact The Whidbey Playhouse by calling 679-2237 or visit the Playhouse website.

Tickets are $16 each, but groups of 10 or more receive a $1 discount for each ticket. Show times are 7:30 p.m. for Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances, and 2:30 p.m. for Sunday matinees. The Whidbey Playhouse is wheelchair and handicapped accessible.

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