Tenille takes on the Philly filly

Tenille McDermott stars as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story. PHOTGRAPHER: Martin Hodgson

It was dubbed the fifth best romantic comedy of all time by the American Film Institute and this week The Philadelphia Story will hit the Townsville stage.

Tenille McDermott stars as Tracy Lord – the role that took Katharine Hepburn from ‘box office poison’ to darling of the stage and screen when she appeared in the Broadway play in 1939 and film in 1940.

The Philadelphia Story unfolds over two days as Tracy prepares to wed George, a nouveau riche coal baron. The wedding preparations are disrupted, however, by the arrival of reporter Mike Connor and the persistent presence of Tracy’s ex-husband Dexter with comedic result.

Tenille says the show blends old world glamour with some timeless ideas that still ring with modern audiences.

Jeremy Naughton, Tenille McDermott and Mark Whittaker in The Philadelphia Story.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Martin Hodgson

“One of the wonderful things about The Philadelphia Story is that it explores several themes that still resonate today, including an ongoing conversation about class and privilege,” says Tenille. “But as you would expect with an 80-year-old script, there are some elements that have the potential to be problematic.

“Sonia Zabala, the director, has really cleverly reinterpreted these; for example, there is a confrontation between Tracy and her father Seth that has been reframed to reveal more about the relationships of the Lord family as a whole.

“Some of the language has also been tweaked slightly to make it more appropriate for a contemporary sensibility.

While no stranger to the local stage, Tenille has been challenged to grow as an actor in taking on the iconic role of Tracy.

“I feel so privileged to be a part of this production”

“She begins the play very sure of herself, but ends up revealing a lot of vulnerability, and learning a lot about who she is and what she wants over the course of the story,” she says.

“It’s been a wonderful challenge to try and bring those various aspects of Tracy to life, and to balance the impetuous – and sometimes self-centred! – parts of her character with her generosity and sense of fairness.

“I feel so privileged to be a part of this production and to work with such a talented and generous group of people – both the cast, who are all so incredible, and the production team, who have worked so hard behind the scenes to bring together amazing sets, props and costumes. You will be blown away when you see them!”


Townsville Little Theatre will present The Philadelphia Story at PIMPAC on 9-12 March 2022.

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