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GTA actors to present classic comedy 'The Philadelphia Story'
Play to run from April 5-16 on UNG Gainesville campus
Brenau student Emily Topper portrays Tracy Lord in Gainesville Theatre Alliance’s “The Philadelphia Story.” She is accompanied by University of North Georgia students Chris Hallows, left, and David Martin. The two men play newspaperman Mike Connor and charming ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, respectively, who are attracted to Lord on the eve of her wedding to another man.

‘The Philadelphia Story’

When: 7:30 p.m. April 5-9 and April 12-16 and 2:30 p.m. April 10 and 16; 7:30 p.m. preview April 4

Where: Ed Cabell Theatre, University of North Georgia-Gainesville, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

Cost: $18-$20 adults, $16-$18 seniors, $12-$14 students and $10 preview performance

More info: or 678-717-3624

Dying is easy, comedy is hard.

“Comedy is about timing and tempo and pitch and delivery and character types and hitting your marks and how you deal with each other,” said Gay H. Hammond, director of The Philadelphia Story. “It is a complicated dance.”

All those dance elements will come into play in the classic screwball comedy “The Philadelphia Story” produced by Hammond and the nationally acclaimed Gainesville Theatre Alliance.

The GTA members will bring the play to the Gainesville area April 5-10 and 12-16 in the Ed Cabell Theatre on the University of North Georgia campus in Oakwood. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 5-9 and April 12-16 with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on April 10 and 16.

Tickets are $18 to $20 for adults, $16 to $18 for seniors and $12 to $14 for students. Patrons can select their own seats at or purchase tickets through the GTA Box Office at 678-717-3624.

“(The production) has been a blast,” said Emily Topper, who is portraying the character Tracy Lord, a role originally played by Katharine Hepburn in the 1940 movie adaptation. “It is big shoes to fill, but everything has been so much fun.”

Lord is a madcap heiress who is teetering on the eve of a brilliantly elite marriage. However, the woman is still attracted to her charming rascal of an ex-husband as well as a wise-cracking reporter, both of whom are attending the festivities.

“It’s a hard role, but it’s fun,” said Topper, a University of North Georgia senior. “I’m making it my own.”

Hammond, the GTA director since 2000, selected the wacky comedy because it has a lot to say about tolerance and class types despite it originating in the 1940s.

“I think sometimes we forget that older work can be really relevant to the culture of today,” she said.

Written in 1939 by American dramatist Philip Barry, “The Philadelphia Story” is set in a wealthy suburb of the city in the 1930s. The film, produced one year later, is probably best known for launching the career of a then-struggling Hepburn who earned an Oscar nomination for best actress for her role as Tracy.

The movie won two Academy Awards in 1941 for best screenplay and best actor for James Stewart. The film earned three other nominations including best picture, best supporting actress for Ruth Hussey and best director for George Cukor.

“I hope (the Gainesville audience) is just along for the ride with us,” Topper said. “To have fun and be a part of our crazy family right now. It’s a crazy life, but it’s so fun.”

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