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The Philadelphia Story This Philip Barry high comedy from 1939 is so deeply associated with Katherine Hepburn that it's almost impossible to do it justice with anyone else in the role of Main Line socialite Tracy Lord. Hepburn owned the play — she literally bought it from Barry and sold the rights to MGM, thanks to lover Howard Hughes — and turned the smash Broadway hit into an equally phenomenal movie success that resuscitated her film career the following year. Barry wrote the play for her, and stardust still clings to it. Every now and then, Theatre Suburbia's production sparkles and defies gravity, but more often it remains defiantly earthbound. Barry is difficult to play these days (he was difficult to play in 1939, too). He needs speedy delivery, a light-as-air approach and a quality of noblesse oblige that is convincing yet gentle. You can't think while performing this bubbly confection, you just have to get on with it. With conviction. His beautiful play needs buoyancy and quicksilver. Too much heaviness, and Barry's soufflé falls flat. The very rich Tracy Lord (Amesti Reioux), goddess deluxe, is to marry the very rich George Kittredge (Sergio Flores). Two magazine reporters (David Barron and Courtney Furgason), writing an exposé of Philadelphia's upper crust, wheedle themselves into the affair, while Tracy's former husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Brett Cullum), still in love with her, butts in to sabotage the proceedings. It's all tony fun and games as the privileged class gets its comeuppance, sort of. In the end, Barry neatly turns the tables: The upper class is different from you or me, and they get away with all their privileges. Brett Cullum, as C.K., knows just what he's doing and plays Barry for all he's worth with a marvelous, knowing air. Barron and Furgason, as the normal, everyday folk, wisely plant their characters in the proletariat; while young Adelaide Daniel, as Tracy's sister Dinah, has command of the stage, firing off Barry's wisecracks with a pro's aim. Through October 16. 4106 Way Out West Dr., 713-682-3525. — DLG

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