A classic quirky family farce
Students capture the 1930s in solid, energetic production
Bringing home a first girlfriend or boyfriend can be a trying and potentially embarrassing ordeal for anyone, but much more so for poor Alice Sycamore.
In spite of all her efforts to whip her family into shape, they still can’t seem to find their pants, put away their erotic plays or contain the explosions coming from the basement.
St. Joseph Catholic High School’s presentation of the play You Can’t Take It With You explored the joys and the sorrows tied to being the only normal member of the strangest family on the block.
You Can’t Take It With You is a comedy written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and it premiered in New York City in 1936. The play was turned into a well-known movie a few years later. It follows the difficulties in Alice Sycamore’s relationship with the wealthy Tony Kirby Jr., caused principally by her outlandish family. Some of the family members are blood relatives with odd hobbies, and some are outspoken helpers, while others still are visitors who showed up, once upon a time, and never left.
The cast’s solid acting skills, the convincing set and the impressive technical aspects all helped carry the show. Though there were a few microphone malfunctions, the actors always managed to make themselves heard, and the energy of the entire cast sustained the production.
Tara Paterson played the giggling wife-to-be Alice convincingly, alternating between feelings of love and exasperation for her house full of oddballs. She and Cody McLaughlin, who played Tony Kirby Jr., gave a skilled portrayal of a loving couple with the odds stacked against them. Their devotion to one another was obvious in many scenes, particularly when Tony proposed.
The heart of the performance was the patchwork collection of people who lived under the Sycamore roof. Cameron Ford brought life to his portrayal of the ever-cheerful Grandpa Vanderhof, who dispensed his nuggets of wisdom with believable good nature. Terri Pimblett managed to be lovably ditzy as Alice’s sister Essie Carmichael. The brash maid Rheba and her hopelessly devoted boyfriend Donald, played by Alemat Gidey and Paolo Mariano respectively, never failed to provoke laughter and contributed greatly to the general eccentricity of the family.
The production’s set, the Sycamore’s living room, with its vintage typewriter, wall-hangings and period furniture, looked like something right out of the 1930s. It also added considerably to the quirk- iness of the family. Another element that helped the show maintain a convincing 1930s feel was the costumes, which were all perfectly suited not only to the era, but the characters themselves. The lighting crew handled their numerous cues with admirable precision. Their impressive effects, such as fireworks explosions, were always perfectly in-sync with the action onstage.
St. Joseph’s production of You Can’t Take It With You was a memorable one, with the cast and crew working together to convey the play’s central message: be thankful for friends, family and good health, because that’s all that matters. It was fitting, then, that the production finished with the sweet scene of the family gathered around the dinner table, to give thanks for just that.