PERRY — Everyone has quirky family members who embarrass them. That is what makes You Can’t Take It With You written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman so relatable, even after 86 years since it was written. This long-standing play has topped the lists of high school and college productions for decades. The production at Heritage Theatre directed by Marilyn Whipple delivers a wonderful cast who portray the beloved eccentric family and friends that has endeared audiences for generations. Newcomers can also enjoy meeting the Sycamore family and friends in this wonderful production.
You Can’t Take It With You is a true classic that has withheld the test of time. Alice Sycamore (played by Ashlee Giblette) is hesitant to bring her beau, Tony Kirby (played by David Wilding) home because she has a family with bizarre hobbies and ambitions that seem crazy to outsiders. When Tony brings his parents over to meet the Sycamores, all chaos ensues delivering a night full of laughter and surprises.
In praising this cast, I must start with the actress who brought the most laughs for the night: Stacey Keller, who played the role of Penny Sycamore. Keller’s comedic timing and expressions were a hit as she was overly excited to meet her daughter’s new beau. Moving her chair and Tony’s chair to be closer together as he tried to move away was a riot, as Penny clearly had no respect for other people’s bubbles of personal space. Keller plays Penny as truly a loving mother who is happy with who she is and unashamed by her hobbies or edgy games.
Nancy Baker was also a standout actress of the night with her roles as both Mrs. Kirby and The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina. Baker’s facial expressions as she enters the Sycamore’s home, hears what is being served for dinner, and throughout the family game were perfect for an upper class woman in an uncomfortable situation. Her accent and regal demeanor as the Grand Duchess fallen from wealth to a New York store employee were also delightful.
Justin “Spot” Beecher played Borris Kolenkhov, the erratic Russian dance teacher for Essie Sycamore. Beecher brought laughs and enjoyment as his crazy character changed into his dance costume on stage, danced a terrible rendition of a ballet, and then wrestled Mr. Kirby on the dinner table. Additionally, Mr. De Pinna (played by Rylan Merkley) was another enjoyable character with his loud and kindhearted Italian accent. The rest of the cast was well matched for their characters and all gave a commendable performance.
The costumes designed by Amber Beecher were period appropriate for the 1930s. Alice’s dresses, traveling coats and hats were well tailored and fitting. The set was designed by Brianna Taylor was able to be filled with more elaborate props and period pieces, due to the fact that the play only takes place in the Sycamore’s main dining room and front salon.
Unfortunately, this script is slow by modern standards, especially in the first act as it develops so many characters and their eccentricities. On opening night, the mics were off for the first few minutes of the show, making a few lines hard to hear and understand. Thankfully, the technical crew members able to get the sound working fairly quickly. Also, the sound effects and lighting needed to be a little more coordinated, as with the ending of Act 1 and the red fireworks. However, I do believe these hiccups will be worked out as the run of the show continues. Finally, from my view in the audience, actors and even stage hands going in and out of the kitchen curtain were easily seen when they were supposed to be offstage, which was distracting.
Overall, You Can’t Take It With You at Heritage Theatre was an enjoyable night out. The actors and actresses were delightful creating such outlandish characters that one cannot help but laugh. Most of all, this play helps people to remember what is most important in life and to spend time in pursuit of happiness, instead of what makes the most money. Coming from a no-name theatre critic who never makes a dime writing about a small community theatre in the state of Utah, I know that You Can’t Take It With You will bring a smile to your face and bring joy to your heart. Note that fireworks and explosives go off frequently throughout the play. audience members who have triggers from loud explosions or who have sensitive hearing may not want to attend or sit in the back of the theatre.