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GTA to Bring Film Classic to Life with THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

Spring has arrived in northeast Georgia and it is the perfect season for a wedding. Attend the most screwball wedding of the last century at Gainesville Theatre Alliance with their production of THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. This witty, sharply stylish comedy runs Apr. 5-16 at UNG-Gainesville's Ed Cabell Theatre, 3850 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood.

Written by American dramatist Philip Barry, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY tells the madcap tale of heiress Tracy Lord, who teeters on the eve of a brilliantly elite marriage, but is way too attracted still to her charming rascal of an ex-husband AND a wise-cracking reporter, both of whom are hanging around for the festivities. Barry's play inspired the Oscar award-winning film classic of the same name starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. Barry wrote the play as a starring vehicle for Hepburn, and she starred in the play on Broadway. In order to restart her screen acting career, failing at the time, Hepburn purchased the film rights to the play. The movie went on to be an unqualified hit.

The Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a nationally acclaimed collaboration between University of North Georgia, Brenau University, theatre Professionals and the northeast Georgia community.

Director of WonderQuest and Resident Dramatist for GTA, Gay H. Hammond returns to the GTA MainStage to direct THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. Hammond directed The Adventures of Pecos Bill earlier this season and last directed for the MainStage with Sense & Sensibility. Other directing credits include Red, Sleeping Beauty, and The Beaux' Stratagem. Hammond is excited to bring THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, a film classic, to the stage. Many of Hammond's past plays are classical works or adaptations of literature. Hammond says she is usually "dealing with famous stories or familiar performances" and that she always attempts "to balance the audience's expectations with their desire to be surprised."

While set in the late 1930s, Hammond says THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is not far from contemporary life. "People mismanage their love lives- because of pride, usually -all the time, not just in 1937," says Hammond, "and we all have relatives who may behave in sometimes embarrassing ways." In the play, we "recognize-and laugh with some fondness -at the foibles of each other and ourselves," Hammond states. The time period gives inspiration to things Hammond describes as "charming and delightful" such as the period's "delicious fashion, the suavity of true gentlemen and the location of a Philadelphia mansion."

GTA welcomes back lighting designer D. Conner McVey, an alumnus of its technical design program. McVey's lighting designs have been seen in past GTA productions of Once on this Island, Oklahoma!, and The Great Gatsby, and Chicago for which he won Undergraduate Lighting Designer of the Year for 2015 from the Southeastern Theatre Conference. McVey says that "THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is just delightful" to design. The focus of the lighting design, McVey continues, "is recreating actual lighting conditions in the real world" because the play is "an unflinchingly naturalistic piece of theatre." McVey describes the set as looking like "we stole the backside of someone's actual house."

Scenic designer Stuart Beaman has 23 years of design experience in the Ed Cabell Theatre. His designs have been featured in shows such as The Great Gatsby, Chicago and Metamorphoses. Beaman is hoping to help the audience to suspend their disbelief and feel as though they are outdoors with the characters. He says that his design features Philadelphia bluestone, ivy and other greenery, and "branches [that] hang down into the space giving the illusion of a canopy" of oak trees overhead. Beaman is working to create the "overall opulence" of an authentic Philadelphian bluestone estate.

Other designers include Jeannie Crawford who has designed costumes for GTA for the past 11 seasons. Her work was featured this season in The Adventures of Pecos Bill and Dracula along with The Importance of Being Earnest, Metamorphoses and Front Page from past seasons. Student designer David Liccardi rounds out the design team as Sound Designer, who admits to taking inspiration from Looney Tunes to support the screwball comedy through sound.

North Georgia theatre patrons are invited to this high society romp beginning Apr. 5, at UNG-Gainesville's Ed Cabell Theatre, 3850 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood. The show is rated G.

The play runs Apr. 5-16, with a, $10, general admission Preview on Monday, Apr. 4. Tickets for all other performances range from $12 to $20. Patrons can select their own seats at www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org or by calling the GTA Box Office at 678-717-3624. Group reservations (at a 20% discount) are available by calling the Box Office; Phonic Ear devices and large print programs are available for all performances.

Pictured: In THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, heiress Tracy Lord (played by Brenau senior Emily Topper, center) is disturbingly attracted to her charming ex and a champagne-steeped reporter, played by UNG students David Martin and Chris Hallows (left and right), on the eve of her wedding. Photo by Simpson Custom Photography.


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