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Volume 90, Issue 75

Thursday, February 06, 1997



Dirty 30s relived

Gazette file photo
A FINE FAMILY POSE WITH SOME LEMONADE. The cast of The Philadelphia Story prepares for the play's opening tonight at Althouse College.

The Philadelphia Story
At Althouse College
Feb. 6 - 8

If the students of Western were to choose their least favourite month of the year – barring engineers (exams) and those celebrating a birthday – it would probably be foreboding February. Fortunately, for all suffering from winter blues you have a chance this weekend to experience one of Western's best kept secrets. The Althouse College drama crew is performing The Philadelphia Story just in time for Valentine's Day next week.

For those uninitiated, the play concerns an upper class country family fumbling with love, money, booze and deception – it's a timeless story. Set in 1939 Philadelphia at the Lord Family Estate, the tale unfolds in two controversial and quite humorous days. It is a well-paced comedy of ethics and etiquette in the escapist Hollywood form.

The first act takes us to the sitting room of the Lord family mansion where we are introduced to the key players. Tracy Lord (Anne-Marie Caicco) and Dinah Lord (Tara Terrick) are the two convincing young daughters and Mike Connor (Robert G. May) is the New York reporter who is in town with his girl Liz Imbrie (Carolyn Ardis) to write a gossip column on the controversial family.

The Lord family and its esteemed colleagues are all getting prepared for Tracy's wedding the following day. Tracy's fiancée George Kittredge (Paul Nasato) and slick ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Colin Adams) from lower and upper classes respectively, have differing opinions on Tracy's future and the tension between them on stage is excellent.

As the guests get festive during the second act their guards begin to drop and their wits and belts become undone. Connor joins Dexter and Kittredge in their petty mind games and the play really takes off emotionally. Luckily for the gentle viewer the play has many levels and the good guys don't necessarily finish first.

The most convincing performance in this comedy comes from Adams as the ritzy Dexter whose sly and confident demeanour and foppish wit are striking from his opening stroll onto the stage. Honourable mention must go to the consistently gripping performance of Caicco as the buxom bride and Terrick as her funny younger sibling. The dry comedy of Connor and blue-collar charisma of Nasato also deserve recognition.

But it is the story behind the scenes that really makes this play a remarkable presentation. All members of the cast are full-time education students who have managed to create a solid production while balancing school, jobs and families – now that's commitment.

Finding a full complement of good actors is difficult in an entire school but Althouse has succeeded in finding enough in their own college; hopefully it will not go unnoticed.

Theatre is becoming a lost art form in our technologically-enhanced society and that's a shame because there are few things more romantic than taking that special someone to a dramatic performance. The Philadelphia Story, wedding motif et al is a guaranteed winner for a pre-Valentine's engagement. For your chance to escape into a world of love, deception and comedic catharsis see The Philadelphia Story starting tonight at Althouse College.

–Mark Lewandowski

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997