Theatre Arts department opens 'The Philadelphia Story'

November 6, 2012

"Philadelphia Story" photo L-R:  Cecil Blutcher as Dexter Haven, Chloe Dzielak as Tracy Lord, Jake Hayes as Mike Connor.

By Brigitte Graf '13

The theatre department opened their latest student-run production this week with "The Philadelphia Story," a comedy about a young socialite from Philadelphia's high society planning her second wedding.

The play tells the story of Tracy Lord, a divorced socialite from the suburbs of Philadelphia whose wedding plans are interrupted when her ex-husband shows up, along with two trouble-making journalists. Tracy's marriage plans take a comedic turn as she is faced with a difficult decision about her future and her feelings toward her ex-husband Dexter.

"The Philadelphia Story" was unique for its time since the story centers on a female character and confronts taboo subjects like adultery and divorce. American playwright Philip Barry wrote the comedy in 1939, a time in American history when most plays focused on male characters

"Audiences are going to see one of the premier coming-of-age stories in American theatre," said Cecil Blutcher, a senior playing the part of Dexter. "A lot of the issues they talk about in this show still resonate with society today. That's good writing, that's good art. It's classic and timeless."

Senior Chloe Dzielak, playing the part of Tracy, said the audience is in for more than just social commentary. The play also offers plenty of laughs.

"It's lots of fun," she said. "It's a total kind of slap-stick comedy, so hopefully there will be lots of laughs. We want the audience to have to listen for what's coming next and kind of interact. It's a very beautiful play to look at as well."

Dzielak said she connected with her character's struggle as a young woman to find out more about herself and what she wants in life.

"I'm a senior ready to go off into the real world," said Dzielak, a theatre major from Chicago. "[Tracy] is learning to see the world through an adult's eyes. That's how I've really come to identify with her. That idea of having to grow up really rings true with me."

Both Dzielak and Blutcher cited their experiences at Bradley as having helped grow and improve their work on the stage. Blutcher, studying political science, said he discovered a lot about himself as an actor since joining the theatre department.

"When we are kids and we go outside and play with our friends, there's real abandon," Blutcher said. "I think that's a metaphor for good theatre and good acting. It's the ability to go and be free to try things in rehearsal and really play. Being a part of this community, the biggest lesson I've learned is that I have to feel free to play and not be afraid to fail."

It's this passion for acting the players hope will shine through to audiences during the ten-day run of "The Philadelphia Story."

"We have had so much fun with this play," Blutcher said. "And I'm excited to channel all that fun and put it on the stage."

Performances run from Nov. 8-10 and 15-17 at 8 p.m. and on Nov. 11 and 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Hartmann Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for Bradley faculty and staff as well as seniors and $9 for students. For tickets or more information call 677-2650

Story on the performance can be found in the Sunday, November4, 2012, edition of the Peoria Journal Star.   Printed with permission of Peoria Journal Star.