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By Bob Nelson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “Private Lives,” Noel Coward’s wild and wacky comedy of manners which has been on the boards for better than 80 years, has been reborn locally by the Lantern Theater Company at St. Stephen’s Theatre.

Many of the great names in show business have played roles in this play over the years, and there’s certainly no shortage of laughter generated wherever it plays.

It’s played Broadway six times, embracing such stars as Gertrude Lawrence, Sir Laurence Olivier, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Richard Burton, and Kim Cattral, among others.  It’s been made into a movie and adapted to television and radio.

But, as Noel Coward has insisted, it’s the characters that make the drama.

It’s a knockabout comedy dealing with divorced couples honeymooning with their spouses in adjoining units in the same fancy hotel.  There are stormy relationships generated.  And while the famous names in many of the productions certainly contributed to their success, the Lantern Theater Company has managed an impressive production in its own right.

“Private Lives” has generated laughter wherever it goes.  The current production, at St. Stephen’s Theatre in center city Philadelphia, is set to run through December 31st.


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