Thursday, October 4, 2012

DiPietro, Barry Plays in Hand at Westport Playhouse

Anne Keefe. Photo: Kerry Long
Westport Country Playhouse will present two Script in Hand play readings this autumn with the family comedy, “Over the River and Through the Woods” by Joe DiPietro, on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7 pm and the romantic comedy, “The Philadelphia Story” by Philip Barry on Monday, Dec. 10 at 7 pm. Anne Keefe, Playhouse artistic advisor, will direct both readings. Casting will be announced soon. 

Tickets to the one-night-only Script in Hand readings are $15. Tickets for reading and post-performance dessert reception with the cast in the Playhouse’s Sheffer Studio are $50 ($15 for reading plus a $35 donation for reception). Receptions will include Italian desserts and Prosecco for “Over the River and Through the Woods,” and champagne and strawberries for “The Philadelphia Story.” 

In “Over the River and Through the Woods,” Nick is a single, Italian-American guy from New Jersey. He sees his four grandparents every Sunday for dinner. When he is offered his dream job in Seattle he has to tell his beloved, though annoying, grandparents that the tradition must end. The news doesn’t sit too well and the grandparents scheme to keep Nick around.

“As we head into the chaos of the holidays, getting close to Thanksgiving, I wanted a play about family that would keep us laughing, but pull on our heartstrings as well,” said Keefe. “I feel like I know these people. Heck – I’m one of them!”

Playwright Joe DiPietro won two Tony Awards for co-writing “Memphis,” which also received the 2010 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Musical. His other plays and musicals include “I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change” (the longest-running musical revue in off-Broadway history); “The Toxic Avenger” and “The Thing About Men” (both winners of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway musical); the much-produced comedy “Over the River and Through the Woods; “The Art of Murder” (Edgar Award winner for Best Mystery Play); and the Broadway musical “All Shook Up.” His drama “Creating Claire” debuted at George Street Playhouse in 2010. His work has received thousands of productions across the country and around the world. 

In “The Philadelphia Story” Tracy Lord, of the Philadelphia Lords, is a spoiled daughter of the privileged. She’s about to marry for the second time. Just days before the wedding, a reporter and a camera woman arrive to document the event for a gossip magazine as part of a deal to cover up Tracy’s father’s affair with a Broadway dancer. Coincidentally her ex-husband turns up as well. The result is comedy, drama, and suspense as Tracy confronts the four men in her life: the very appealing reporter, her ex-husband, her fiancé, and her father. “The Philadelphia Story” has been a play, a film, and, as “High Society” with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, a Broadway and movie musical as well. 

“When I think of classic plays, ‘The Philadelphia Story’ is always on the top of my short list,” said Keefe. “It has everything---laughs, glamour, sentiment, and great roles for lots of good actors.”
Playwright Philip Barry graduated from Yale University and went on to Harvard University. He is primarily known for his satirical, somewhat unconventional comedies of manners, such as “Holiday” (1928), “The Animal Kingdom” (1932), and “The Philadelphia Story” (1939).

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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