Who remembers The Munsters? That 1960s TV show was about a family in which every member, except one (niece Marilyn), was decidedly quirky. Much of the show’s humor was in the nonchalance with which these zanies pursued their off-the-wall activities.
In like manner, the Towne Players of Garner’scommunity-theater production of You Can’t Take It with You, written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, paints a portrait of a quirky family named Sycamore; and it shows the ensuing hilarity when these wackos interact with the “normal” world. Like the Munster family, the Sycamores have a non-quirky member: daughter Alice (an earnest Megan Woronka). Like the members of the Munster family, the individual Sycamores immerse themselves in odd activities.
A mother writes plays that she never finishes, and she used to paint (the only painting of hers that we see is likewise unfinished); a daughter studies dance (and is comically un-accomplished), and she makes candy; a son-in-law plays xylophone and operates a printing press; a father manufactures fireworks in the basement (with the help of a good friend who seems also to live there); and the list goes on. Russian ladies, an IRS agent, a drunken actress, and FBI agents drop in on the Sycamores.
Sitting down to an unconventional kind of supper, Grandpa (Jim O’Brien) leads the family in a prayer that includes asking that the family be allowed to “be happy in our own sort of way.” Alice seems to be the only one who works outside the home. She is in love with Tony Kirby (an equally earnest Stephen Carl), son of the owner of the company for which she works.
The Kirbys (Ann Forsthoefel and Tim Wiest) are very straight-laced — quite “normal.” When Alice agrees to marry Tony, a showdown between the Kirbys and the Sycamores becomes inevitable when the families first meet. In addition to the fun that arises “when worlds collide,” the play offers a discussion of contrasting philosophies of life.
In this type of comedy, pacing is crucial — if it is too fast, many of the gags will be lost; if it is too slow, the audience will have too much time to think, and the action could easily become too ridiculous. Director Beth Honeycutt manages to get the pacing just right.
Although it is difficult to single out standout performances in a tightly directed ensemble cast, we would like to say that Scott Renz’s performance is as quirky as his character’s aptly quirky costume, Josh Hamilton plays Ed in a style that matches his wildly unkempt hair, and Kelly Stancil plays Penny (the mother) with a giggly effervescence that makes her devotion to her artistic endeavors appropriately silly. Louise Farmer (as Olga) and Barbara Diciero (as Gay) supply delightful cameos. However, Jim O’Brien’s impeccable comic timing as Grandpa is key to much of the intellectual humor of the piece.
The set, designed and built by technical director Scott Honeycutt, is appropriately “busy” for this family, and the costuming fits the various characters “to a T.”
From the Department of Picky-Picky:
- Due to a casting anomaly, the grandfather in this family appears to be much younger than the father. It’s a relatively minor distraction, but we were reminded of this disparity numerous times.
- There were glitches in the sound system, and we found ourselves wondering if, perhaps, the piece would have been better served without amplification of the actors’ voices.
On opening night, Jan. 26th, as though in answer to Grandpa’s prayer, the Towne Players of Garner’s presentation of You Can’t Take It with You at the Garner Performing Arts Center gave its audience plenty of opportunity to be entertained in “our own sort of way.”
The Towne Players present YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU at 8 p.m. Feb. 2 and 2 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Garner Performing Arts Center (formerly Garner Historic Auditorium), 742 W. Garner Rd., Garner, North Carolina 27529.
TICKETS: $15 on Feb. 2nd and $12 on Feb 3rd, except $12 per person for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: Tickets will be sold at the door or may be purchased online at http://www.etix.com/.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-661-4602 or http://www.towneplayers.org/contact/group-ticket-info/.
INFORMATION: 919-779-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOW: http://www.towneplayers.org/, https://www.facebook.com/events/201786850388878/, and http://www.garnernc.gov/departments/parks-recreation-and-cultural-resources/garner-performing-arts-center/you-can-t-take-it-with-you.
PRESENTER: http://www.towneplayers.org/ https://www.facebook.com/TownePlayersofGarner, and https://twitter.com/towneplayers.
You Can’t Take It with You (1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winning 1936 Broadway comedy): https://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=1163 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.georgeskaufman.com/play-catalogue/15-play-catalogue/library-of-america-collection/66-you-can-t-take-it-with-you.html (official web page), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/you-cant-take-it-with-you-9527 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030993/ (Internet Movie Database: 1938 film), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Can%27t_Take_It_with_You_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: https://www.bard.org/study-guides/you-cant-take-it-with-you-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Moss Hart (New York City-born playwright and screenwriter, 1904-61): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Moss-Hart (Encyclopædia Britannica), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/moss-hart-6153 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0366454/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moss_Hart (Wikipedia).
George S. Kaufman (Pittsburgh, PA-born playwright and screenwriter, 1889-1961): http://www.georgeskaufman.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/george-s-kaufman-5827 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0442151/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Kaufman (Wikipedia).
Beth Honeycutt (Garner, NC director and Towne Players co-founder and artistic director): https://www.facebook.com/beth.honeycutt2 (Facebook page).
A native of North Carolina, Yvette L. Holder has studied theater at three institutions: the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute (New York), and N.C. Central University, where she received a BA in Dramatic Arts. Yvette also promotes and produces comedy theater, as well as working with playwrights around the country during the development stage of their work. She hosts a monthly play reading session: “Sips and Scripts” at Imurj in downtown Raleigh. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read Yvette and Kurt’s reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.