In a spin on an old adage — “the family that plays together, stays together,” Tony-award winner James Naughton of Weston, and three members of his family are appearing in a one-night only, “script in hand” reading of The Philadelphia Story, the romantic comedy classic by Philip Barry.
In addition to Mr. Naughton, the star-studded cast includes his daughter Keira Naughton, son Greg Naughton, and Greg’s wife Kelli O’Hara. Also appearing are Blythe Danner, Edward Herrmann, Jake Robards, and Mark Shanahan.
The playreading will be held Monday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., at The Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport. The show’s director is Anne Keefe of Weston, who is also the playhouse’s artistic advisor.
The idea to cast members of the Naughton clan in The Philadelphia Story came from Ms. Keefe, said Mr. Naughton. “It was Annie’s idea and we’re happy to do it. Working together is one of the things we’ve enjoyed doing before. There is nothing more fun for me — it really is a blast,” he said.
Mr. Naughton has directed both Keira and Greg in other plays, and has sung with them at concerts. In 1995, he starred with Greg in a production of Golden Boy directed by Joanne Woodward. Coincidentally, Mr. Naughton is appearing in a new TV show in February called Golden Boy, which is unrelated to the play.
Mr. Naughton compared doing a script in hand reading to performing on the Selected Shorts radio show on NPR, where he and other celebrities read short stories. “You don’t have to memorize the script. You rehearse it and then you just do it. I was on the road with Isaiah Sheffer, the late host and creator of Selected Shorts, and wherever we went — Idaho, Montana, Florida, and Texas — the theaters were filled. People really enjoy these readings,” he said.
The Philadelphia Story will be similar to Selected Shorts. The cast will be reading from scripts and there will be no set. “It’s good because the audience gets to sit and imagine things how they want to,” Mr. Naughton said.
Mr. Naughton said he looks forward to performing again with Tony and Emmy award winner
Blythe Danner, who he worked with at the Willamstown Theater Festival in the Berkshires, and Jake Robards who he directed in Our Town on Broadway, featuring Paul Newman.
The plot of The Philadelphia Story revolves around Tracy Lord, a spoiled daughter of the rich and privileged. As she’s about to marry for the second time, a reporter and photographer 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, Tracy’s ex-husband turns up as well. The result is comedy, drama, and suspense as Tracy confronts the men in her life.
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.
Playing Tracy Lord is Mr. Naughton’s daughter-in-law, multiple Tony award nominee Kelli O’Hara, who is currently starring on Broadway in Nice Work If You Can Get It with Matthew Broderick.
Mr. Naughton plays Tracy’s father Seth, and Ms. Danner plays her mother Margaret. Greg Naughton plays C.K. Dexter Haven, the ex-husband, while Mr. Robards plays George Kittridge, Ms. Lord’s fiancé. Keira Naughton plays Liz Imbrie the photographer, Mark Shanahan is Macauley Connor the reporter, and Edward Herrmann plays the wiley Uncle Willy.
Ms. Keefe, the show’s director, served as artistic director of Westport Country Playhouse with Joanne Woodward in 2008, and as associate artistic director from 2000-06. She has directed many script in hand readings.
Tickets for The Philadelphia Story are $15. Tickets for the reading and post-performance “Meet the Cast” dessert reception in the playhouse’s Sheffer Studio are $50 ($15 for reading plus a $35 donation for the reception). The reception will include champagne and strawberries.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at 203-227-4177, or visit the box office at the playhouse. Tickets are also available online at westportplayhouse.org.