Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Clipping: Lara Parker in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, 1965

(NOTE: Prior to joining the cast of DARK SHADOWS, Lara Parker appeared on stage using her birth name, Lamar. Also, I couldn't find any online evidence that actress Marin Riley appeared in either of the films she's credited with in this story. Curiously, though, there is a "Marin Riley" listed on The Internet Movie Database who played a number of ghosts on DARK SHADOWS.)

LAMAR PARKER of the Millbrook Playhouse troupe takes the role in which Katherine Hepburn made her big hit as star of THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. The play opened last evening at the Millbrook stage, starting a week's run in the drama of the awakening of a rich man's daughter of love and life. The play, which ran on Broadway for a year with Miss Hepburn, Van Heflin and Shirley Booth, in the leading roles, was later filmed as a musical called HIGH SOCIETY with Grace Kelly. Marin Riley, special guest star, will appear as Tracy's mother. Miss Riley has appeared in four Broadway plays including THE ROSE TATTOO and in many movies including THE PAWNBROKER and THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT. She has also appeared in many television shows and commercials.

The Philadelphia Story Has Chance for Improvement
Lock Haven Express
Aug.9, 1967


Last night Millbrook Playhouse attempted to perform THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. By rights, Philadelphia may now be declared a disaster area and could apply for federal fund.

By now Philip Barry's play is something of a classic and, except for a number of archival references to the style of Time magazine in the early years, it wears its age we'll. There are good lines, a nearly structured plot, and a stageful of good roles.

Somehow few if any of these virtues came across last night. Most of the performers could only work at their roles. The number of dropped cues and missed lines, particularly in the first act, was for the first time this season, a serious problem. Perhaps an additional week of rehearsal would see the play reach some degree of polish.

Frank Davidson's direction at this stage seemed tentative and at all times the pace lagged. There was no sense of place and one could certainly question the accuracy of the picture of upper class behavior. Most of the characterizations seemed in the process of being worked out and at times even the blocking seemed uncertain.

Of course there were moments when the play snapped to life but the cast was unable to fan such tiny sparks into dramatic fire. There is a definite impression of a lot of talent simply failing to mesh, of a lot of very hard work falling short of an acceptable result.

Roger Faucette was Uncle Willie, a pleasantly lecherous old goat. Mr. Faucette stole most of the show simply by giving the impression that he was having a wacking good time on stage. He had his character well in hand and was continually amusing. The play moved when he was about and had a sort of sense of style.

Flavia Potenza as Liz Imbrie, the girl photographer, should give lessons in cattiness. She purrs out her lines with fine effect and she projects the sense of a patient love very well. Her facial expressions throughout act three are just fine.

Clyde Grigsiby portrays Mike Connor, the tough reporter who falls for the heiress. Mr. Grigsby literally and visibly falls in love before the audience's eyes and his iirst declaration of passion and the kiss are very well handled.

George Loros uses his bearing and his intelligence to good purpose as Dexter Haven. He grew stronger act by act and is very good in the demanding third act.

Lamar Parker as Tracy Lord manages a sort of brittle frostiness and her melting is almost convincing.

Matin Riley is a disappointment as Mrs. Lord. Amy Farrell shows the need of strong direction in the role of Dinah Lord. She overworks her coltish qualities and it is unfair to her to have her attempting the ballet steps.

Robert Litowchak is still working on his characterization of George. John Taylor was quite wooden as Seth Lord.

John Klein as Sandy Lord at least gave a clean line, unaffected performance. Marc Eliot gets off a good line as Marc, the night watchman. Doris Geringer, Augie Miller, and Steve Waltz are on view as the household staff.

Lane Halteman's set and Marc Eliot's properties are highly effective. Against Haltman's background of elegant impressionism, Eliot has provided some first rate Victorian furniture, some good wicker lawn furniture and a sampling of fine china. The women's costumes were all splendid, particularly Tracy's first act orange ensemble.

To this critic's ears the wedding march was the traditional recessional and not the processional. For a lot of theater fans THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is a happy memory but last night's Millbrook Playhouse production only provided a long, sad evening.

However, based on their past record, the current play is bound to improve. But also based on the record, Millbrook Playhouse is certainly capable of a lot better production in all aspects and this play deserves it.

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