Bethlehem theater brings “theater royalty” to life

February 4, 2014 by  

The story of one of Hollywood’s greatest acting dynasties will be brought to life in Bethlehem.

In the early days of American theater, performing was a family affair. Acting tended to run in the family, as seen in the case of the Barrymores. John and Ethel Barrymore were siblings and actors.

The pair had plenty of drama onstage and off, and “The Royal Family,” playing at Bethlehem’s Pennsylvania Playhouse, starting February 7, brings a fictionalized version of them to life.

The play dates from 1927 and was written by Edna Ferber and George Kaufman. It features the Cavendish family as stand-ins for the real-life Barrymores. Protagonist Tony Cavendish is a womanizer while his sister Julie is a diva and star of Broadway. Rounding out the family are Fanny Cavendish, a 70-year-old star who’s still going strong and Herbert, an actor past his prime.

The Bethlehem production had its own share of drama, due in large part to the cold weather the area’s seen this year. Opening night had to be postponed by a week thanks to canceled rehearsal due to snow. Since the play’s opening day was pushed back a week, the theater can use postcard printing to alert ticket holders or subscribers of the delay.

The Royal Family runs for two weekends, from February 7 to 9 and Feb. 13 to 16. Performances are at 8pm on Feb. 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15 and at 3:00 pm on Feb. 9 and 16. Tickets are $19 to $22.