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You Can't Take it With You

a Comedy
by George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart

COMPANY : Blackwell Playhouse
VENUE : Blackwell Playhouse
ID# 3685

SHOWING : June 05, 2010 - June 26, 2010



The eccentric Sycamore family is perfectly content living their carefree lives in complete harmony. But that may soon change when grandaughter Alice decides to marry into the uptight, High Society Kirby family. This timeless comedy classic has been delighting audiences for over seventy years!

Director Barbara Joanne Rudy
Stage Manager Joanna Averch
Stage Manager Joanna Avererch
Set & Lighting Design Brad Rudy
Lighting & Sound Tech Paul Murdoch
Martin Vanderhof Pete Borden
Ed Carmichael Brad Corbin
Miriam Kirby Laurel Cressman
Mr. De Pinna Mike Crowe
Boris Kolenkhov Randy Drake
Donald Angel Escobedo
Gay Wellington MaryLynn LeCraw
Alice Sycamore Kimberley Lowe
Rheba Kirby Mason
Olga Katrina Barbara McFann
Tony Kirby James O'Grady
Anthony Kirby, Sr. Alan Phelps
Paul Sycamore Brad Rudy
Penny Sycamore Anita Stratton
G-Man Glenn Varnado
Essie Carmichael Rene' Voige
Wilbur Henderson Jim Wilgus
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A trip to a sweeter time
by Steve Rhinehart
Monday, June 14, 2010
I may have seen better overall productions of this favorite, but I am hard pressed to remember when and where. From the opening scene to the highly animated and most original curtain call, performed with gusto by the cast to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” the play will captivate you and hold you, gently. through the antics of the loving, if not slightly unorthodox, Sycamore family.

Generally the show is well cast and expertly directed, by the inimitable Barbara Rudy. Would that it had been in a different venue. The audience really deserves to behold the beautiful set, all at once, at a curtain rise, instead of having the edge taken off by looking at it for some minute before the show starts. It would appear that, if John Christian, owner of Blackwell Playhouse, read my comments on his theater in my last review, he either chose to ignore them or is oblivious to the fact that there are too many choices for community theater for one to choose a theater which is neither clean nor, in yesterday’s case, climate controlled. Unless he heeds my and several dozen other warnings, I predict he will continue to operate with 20% capacity audiences.

The Sycamore family, expertly portrayed by Pete Borden as Grandpa, the old man in residence, retired for 35 years, Brad Rudy as the father (Paul), Anita Stratton as the mother (Penny), Rene’ Voige as the elder daughter (Essie), Brad Corbin as her husband (Ed), and Kimberley Lowe as the younger daughter (Alice) are an absolute delight to watch. From Grandpa who attends commencement exercises and catches snakes, to Paul and his basement fireworks manufacturing antics, ably assisted by Mr. De Pinna who is also Penny’s model for her painting of ‘The Discus Thrower, (portrayed by veteran Mike Crowe), to Penny’s playwriting and painting ventures, to Essie’s home candy making business and her ballet dancer aspirations, practiced to the accompanying strains of the xylophone played by Ed (Yes, I am told that Brad Corbin actually learned to play the instrument for this show), you will fall in love with the entire Sycamore family.

Rounding out the household, is Rheba, the maid who can’t be a toe dancer because “I got corns”, delightfully played by Kirby Mason, last enjoyed in “Parade”, and her boyfriend, Donald (Angel Escobedo) who “don’t go no place much” because he’s “on relief”. Essie’s Russian ballet teacher is portrayed by Randy Drake, whose bio says that he has been an actor for less than a year. One would never imagine that from his portrayal of the bombastic Mr. Kolenkhov. From the Russian accent to his Russian bluntness, he was a great choice for this role.

Alan Phelps and Laurel Cressman, as Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Kirby, have limited stage exposure, but capitalize on it, by turning in flawless performances, including Mr. Kirby being thrown and penned in a wrestling match with Kolenkhov. Jim Wilgus, as the hapless Mr. Henderson, of the IRS, and again as the man from the Justice Department conducting a raid on the Sycamore home, was convincing in both roles and hilarious in his exchange with Grandpa about 24 years of back income tax. Veteran Glen Varnado, plays his partner in the raid.
Audience favorite, Barbara McFann is more than convincing, as the displace Russian Grand Duchess Olga Katrina, now working as a waitress at Childs’ Restaurant, in Times Square. Long time performer, Mary Lynn LeCraw is a hoot as the boozing, over the hill actress, Gay Wellington. Brought home by Penny to read a new play, she proceeds to become intoxicated and pass out on the couch.

At the heart of this play is the developing story of the love between Alice Sycamore and the young son of her boss. The pair creates the right chemistry between the star crossed lovers embarking on the first hesitant steps into true love. The lovely Kimberley Lowe will have the men in the audience falling in love with Alice, and the ladies will find James O’Grady, as young Tony Kirby, a nice piece of “eye candy”.

If there are two slightly weak spots in this show, they would exist in the characters of Grandpa, played by Pete Borden, and Tony, played by James O’Grady. To be sure, this was a meaty role for a young man making his acting debut. It encompasses a wide gamut of emotions. For the most part, O’Grady comes through with finesse beyond his experience. It is only in his failure, at times, to jump on his cues and maintain the momentum of the moment that his inexperience shows. It is not enough to distract anyone, other than the theater professional. I predict a fine future for this young man and hope to see more of him very soon.

In the character of Grandpa, the patriarch of the family, Borden at times allows his southern heritage to show in his speech. I have come to accept that totally losing one’s inborn southern accent is every bit as difficult as losing one’s British accent. He also has moments when his hard charging, John Wayne type character carried through into his onstage character, where it is definitely out of place.

When you go see this play, and you really should, be prepared to be swept up and transported back to the time before American lost its virginity with World War II, when life was simpler, sweeter and more enjoyable. Be prepared, also, to question your life values. As Grandpa observes, “Life can be beautiful, if you just relax and let it come to you.”



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