Nicely reviewed: YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU

The Herald-Times reviewer, Doris Lynch, has been having good times in the Wells-Metz Theatre, first, as she reported, at our production of The Taming of the Shrew, and, as she wrote last Monday, at our You Can’t Take It with You.

Kaufman and Hart’s comedy isn’t exactly plot-heavy, and as such, it is a difficult piece to summarize without giving away some plot points. Ms. Lynch does an admirable job, yet she releases some minor spoilers—nothing that will destroy your time at the performance, though. If you want a quick summary of her reaction, let me quote the headline and the closing paragraph: “Don’t Miss This Fun Show” and “For a fun, zany evening not to be missed, go see this well-done comedy.

We present You Can’t Take It with You at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, July 24), as well as Thursday (July 26), and Saturday (July 28). There’s also a 2 o’clock matinee of the comedy on Sunday afternoon, July 29.

Here’s the review from the July 16 issue of the Herald-Times, reprinted by permission:

Don’t miss this fun show

By Doris Lynch H-T Reviewer, July 16, 2012

Say you fall in love with the boss’ son and your rich beau asks you to marry him, and it’s finally time for the families to meet. What happens? Fireworks, especially if you invite them to the Vanderhof household as Alice (Molly Casey) did. And show up on the wrong night as her fiance Tony (Aaron Densley) deliberately engineered.

Director Dale McFadden pushes the kookiness factor in this 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winner to delightful levels. The family and assorted hangers-on include: a grandfather snake handler, a couple of basement pyromaniacs, an accomplished candy-maker/ballerina-wanna-be, a Russian emigre dance teacher, and a playwright by accident (a typewriter was delivered to their address by mistake)–the kind of family that the iceman and milkman join to get in on the fun.

With gentle urbanity and a sly, squeeze-the-best-out-of-life attitude, Ken Farrell presents Grandpa. When an IRS tax collector forgets his hat, Grandpa grabs it and declares proudly, “The government gave it to me.” Vanderhof leads a witty prayer before their cornflake dinners, addressing God as Sir. Often, the patriarch shares his philosophy that life is much too important to waste on a job that you do not like. Relaxation, reading, dart throwing, visits with friends and dropping by random commencements make much more sense.

Abby Rowald gives a nuanced, heartfelt performance as his daughter Penny. Nothing deters Penny from the pursuit of art, and distractedly, flitting between unfinished scripts and an unfinished painting, she enjoys her role as center of the family.

Rob Johansen plays an impish and innocent-looking Paul with boy-like energy and charm. Besides laughs, he engenders multiple explosions with his partner in firecrackery, Mr. De Pinna (Timothy Pyles) who is hilarious as a disc-hurling Roman model wearing a toga.

Everyone practices diligently, often alongside each other, as they work to perfect their talents. Printing Trotskyite phrases? Not a problem. This play could serve as a manual on how to live a fully realized life pursuing your passions.

Take Essie (Nicole Bruce), older sister of the maybe bride. Candy-maker when the spirit moves her, she twirls across the living room in her ballerina skirts. Essie’s earnest attempts at ballet (you can almost hear her counting) are incredibly funny.

Casey shines as the lovely Alice, all practicality and common sense in a family where these qualities are in short supply. Densley presents a loyal, somewhat moony Tony who’s willing to endure his father’s wrath. Roy Hedin plays Tony’s uptight, dyspeptic father with the right dose of annoyance and incredulity at the antics of this eccentric but loving family.

Friday night, every member of the cast gave a memorable performance. Even the smaller roles were gems. With verve, Evelyn Gaynor depicted the sexy, never-fazed housemaid Rheba. Andrea Mellos was formidable as the haughty waitress/former Grand Duchess Olga who permanently extended her hand to receive obeisance. Nancy Lipschultz captured the long-suffering Mrs. Kirby who took a vengeful enjoyment in a risque word-game that Penny led in Act Two.

In a very humorous cast, no one was funnier than the Russian dance instructor Kolenkhov (Adam Noble) who followed with sorrow politics in his former homeland. He often commanded the stage, especially in the scene where he took offense at Mr. Kirby. After nearly wrestling the rich Wall Street businessman to death, he’s annoyed that Kirby ignores his heartfelt apology.

Costumes by Jason Orlenko — skirts and shawls with their echoes of the wild 20s and Alice’s “modern new woman” outfits — captured a bygone era in beautiful fabrics.

Tim Barbiaux’s set, full of paintings and tchotchkes, and a stairway to fireworks central gave the stuffy material feel of a large family home during the last century.

For a fun, zany evening not to be missed, go see this well-done comedy.

If you go

WHO: IU Department of Theatre and Drama’s Indiana Festival Theatre

WHAT: “You Can’t Take It With You” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28; 2 p.m. July 15, 21, 29

WHERE: Wells-Metz Theater, in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., Bloomington

TICKETS: $15-$25. Available at the IU Auditorium Box Office or online at Call 812-855-1103 for details.

Copyright: 2012

About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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