Philadelphia Story

At the playhouse from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm on Monday and Tuesday, June 10th and 11th.

Callbacks – TBD if needed

Show dates: Brown County Playhouse, August 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 – 2024

Background: The Philadelphia Story is a 1939 American comic play by Philip Barry. It tells the story of a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and an attractive journalist. Written as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn. The character of Tracy Lord was inspired by Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, a Philadelphia socialite known for her hijinks, who had married a friend of playwright Philip Barry.[1] Barry wrote The Philadelphia Story specifically for Katharine Hepburn, who ended up not only starring in but also financially backing the play, forgoing a salary in return for a percentage of the play’s profits.[2] The play was a great success on Broadway, and was Hepburn’s first great triumph after a number of Hollywood failures had led the Independent Theatre Owners of America to publicly deem her and a number of other film stars “box office poison”.

Story: The wealthy and well-established Lord family of Philadelphia is about to welcome the cream of society into their home for the second wedding of Tracy Lord, vibrant daughter of the house, to George Kittredge, a proudly priggish up-and-coming self-made coal mine manager — much to the annoyance of little sister Dinah, big brother Sandy, and ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, none of whom believe that George is good enough for her. Unfortunately, Father Seth’s philandering with a Broadway dancer causes a scandal that an unscrupulous media tycoon threatens to break — unless he can send a reporter to cover this high society wedding from the inside. Enter Macaulay “Mike” Connor, a writer of quality unwillingly slumming it on the society beat, who holds strong views against the old money-wielding upper class, and his faithful photographer Liz, whose romantic connection is not enough to stop the fascinated dance which ensues when Tracy and Mike meet and spar over class boundaries and champagne-addled declarations. Torn between three men, Tracy must determine whether or not she belongs on a pedestal. Philip Barry’s sparkling comedy is a witty, sophisticated romp, a breezy and romantic story which explores family dynamics, class prejudice, and human frailty.

Philadelphia Story opened on March 28, 1939, at the Shubert Theatre in New York City.

This Broadway hit was adapted into a smash 1940 film starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. It was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and is considered to the best romantic comedy of all time. The play was later adapted into the musical film High Society, starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra.


Tracy Lord is the eldest daughter of Margaret and Seth Lord. Her beauty, wealth, wit, and cleverness hide a somewhat static interior. As a young woman, she eloped with her childhood friend, the equally wealthy and leisured C.K. Dexter Haven. They divorced after just ten months because of his excessive drinking and abuse. As the play opens, she is just a day away from marrying a self-made and industrious man named George Kittredge.

However, the situation is not as rosy as it seems. Tracy still has feelings for her ex-husband, and is deeply hurt by his bitter criticism of her as unfeeling and intolerant. Furthermore, she is profoundly alienated from her philandering father, Seth Lord. She starts to believe that she has made a mistake with Kittredge; she realizes that he has views and dreams that are strikingly different from her own. Lastly, Tracy finds herself attracted to the attractive, liberal writer Mike Connor, who sees past her brittle facade and tough manner. Tracy’s final decision—to remarry her ex-husband—represents an attempt to recapture the happiness they once shared together.

C.K. Dexter Haven is a young, good-looking man. Wealthy and privileged, he has a passion for designing and racing yachts. He is still in love with his ex-wife, Tracy. At one point in the play, Dexter harshly attacks Tracy for her judgmental and unforgiving attitude when he was battling alcoholism, and criticizes her choice of Kittredge for a husband.

Mike (Macauly) Connor is the author of a novel and a collection of short stories. Yet because creative writing does not earn enough money, Mike is reduced to writing “cheap stuff for expensive magazines,” such as his present assignment to cover the Lord-Kittredge wedding.

Although he is initially hostile to the Lord family, his feelings soon change. He warms to Sandy, who joins forces with him in attacking Sidney Kidd, and he is attracted to Tracy’s charm and beauty. At play’s end, Mike even offers to marry Tracy, who gently but firmly rebuffs him. Although his future is left uncertain, it seems plain that Mike will leave his job at Destiny and perhaps become involved with Liz.

Liz Imbrie is the photographer who accompanies Mike to do a story on the Lord family. A young career woman, she provides a contrast to Tracy Lord’s privileged but somewhat vacant existence. She is in love with Mike.

George Kittredge is a handsome, industrious self-made millionaire. His fiancee, Tracy, admires him because she views him as “a great man and good man; already he’s of national importance.” Tracy is attracted by the qualities that made him so newsworthy in the past: his “rags to riches” life history, his popularity, and his charismatic speaking power. Yet she fails to see that Kittredge’s rapid rise through the ranks owes much to his own ambition and class aspirations.

Tracy represents high society for Kittredge, and he believes that his marriage to her will signal his acceptance by upper-class society. His subsequent rejection of Tracy, on the most pompous terms possible, suggests that he still has much to learn about love and perception.

Dinah Lord is the younger of the two Lord sisters. She is a precocious young woman, prone to occasional malapropisms, and rather assured of her own maturity—when she is in fact, at times, quite strikingly innocent. Dinah is fond of her brother and sister as well as Dexter. She clearly wishes that Tracy and Dexter had remained together, and she impulsively invites Dexter to come over, hoping that his presence will remind Tracy of past happiness.

Dinah joins Tracy in pretending to the Destiny reporters that the Lord family is eccentric and pretentious. Her most entertaining moment, however, comes at the play’s end when she misinterprets Mike’s presence in Tracy’s bedroom and melodramatically marshals the family’s resources in order to save Tracy from her “illikit passion” and marriage to Kittredge.

Margaret Lord is the mother of Tracy, Dinah, and Sandy. An attractive woman, she has put up with her husband’s philandering for many years. They are separated at the time of the play.

Sandy Lord is Tracy’s younger brother. A newspaper editor working for the Saturday Evening Post, he is light-hearted and witty. Unlike Tracy, he has made a happy marriage; in fact, his wife has just given birth to their first child. Sandy, like Tracy, is concerned about the family’s reputation, and arranges a deal with Destiny editor Sidney Kidd: the magazine will suppress its planned expose of Seth Lord’s affairs and instead print a story about Tracy’s marriage.

However, Sandy decides to write an expose on Kidd with Mike and Liz. In part, the expose is intended as revenge for the intrusive prying into the family business; in addition, it is meant as punishment to the man who has sold out Liz’s and Mike’s creative talents for a few dollars.

Seth Lord is Tracy’s father. A wealthy and successful man, he has long been involved with a colorful dancer named Tara Maine. This seems to have been the cause of his separation from his long-suffering wife, Margaret. However, Seth has other explanations for his adultery and for the collapse of his marriage: he blames Tracy’s critical attitude for his pursuit of the youthful dancer, and argues that the “ideal daughter” would be one who “blindly” loves her father and believes that “he can do no wrong.” Tracy and her father reconcile by the end of the play.

Mac is the night watchman.

Uncle Willie is Tracy’s good-natured uncle. He is a philanderer and pinches women’s bottoms when he has the chance.

Smaller Walk on Roles:

Thomas, William, Tracy, May, Elsie 

Brown County Playhouse