Review by Hailey Walls, Milford High School Critic Team
Although the fireworks exploded with pizzazz in the basement, La Salle High School’s eccentric production of You Can’t Take It With You certainly caused the biggest bang on stage for audiences this weekend. Heartwarming, dynamic, and all around fun family chaos left audiences laughing with delight throughout the show.
George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s comedy play You Can’t Take It With You opened on Broadway in 1936. Immensely popular, the production played for 838 performances and returned to Broadway numerous times, receiving awards such as the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show follows the engaging storyline between the quirky Sycamore household and the contrasting, well to do Kirby family. The Sycamores are about as well rounded as you can get with each member fixated on a different and strange passion. The Kirby's emanate prideful dignity as prominent business owners who are not equipped for any chaotic disorder. Sure enough, daughter, Alice Sycamore, winds up engaged to the Kirby's son, Tony Kirby Jr., leading to a disaster-ensued dinner between the conjoining families. The story continues as these two families try to find a common bond and discover the true meanings of happiness.
La Salle High School produced a solid version of this classic show, effectively hitting all different emotions produced by Kaufman and Hart’s plot line. The chemistry between each cast member was noticeable as each character had well developed scenes with others. With visually aesthetic scenery, the set brought this production to life along with all actors using each inch of the stage to perform their hard work.
Playing the wacky matriarch of the Sycamore family, Anna Bucher delivered an astonishing performance as Penelope “Penny” Sycamore with facial expressions and a physicality that fueled her performance to the next level. Bucher demonstrated excellent character development as Penny Sycamore fought the feelings combated with watching her daughter grow up and get engaged. Her sincereness balanced well with Eddie Pierson’s Martin “Grandpa” Vanderhof. As soon as Pierson entered the stage, his immediate hunched back quickly defined him as a strong performer accurately portraying a humorous yet genuine grandfather.
Although not officially part of the Sycamore family, their quick witted maid Rheba was portrayed with amazing energy by the lively A.J. Gehrum. Right off the bat, Gehrum’s smile lit up the stage promoting herself as one of the biggest stage presences in the show. Continuing this review would not be possible without mentioning the hilarious Casey Stone and his portrayal of Russian ballet instructor, Boris Kolenkhov. With a greatly pronounced Russian dialect, Stone delivered some of the most memorable lines in the show leaving audience members cackling in their seats.
You Can’t Take It With You contained a visually stunning set created by the talented students Henry Davies, Andrew Childers, Tyler Riehle, and Ethan Reid that put the cherry on top of the dysfunctional family dynamic. With knick-knacks, crooked picture frames, and mixed and matched colors, the Sycamore house created a zany yet homey atmosphere with a welcoming attitude.
La Salle’s take on the timeless You Can’t Take It With You strongly proved that home truly is where the heart is. The ensemble of aspects that went into developing this fun filled show demonstrated that true happiness comes from doing what you love, and the students at La Salle High School contagiously expressed their love for theatre on the stage this weekend.
Review by Violet Hisey, Highlands High School Critic Team
With a boisterous family, two young lovers, and a few Department of Justice agents, La Salle High School’s production of You Can’t Take It With You put a charming spin on the well-known classic.
You Can’t Take It With You is a comedic play written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It premiered on Broadway in 1936, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama the next year. The story follows the eccentric Sycamore family as they go throughout their daily lives, with the exception of the ordinary Alice Sycamore. Over the course of the play, Alice tries to keep herself and her lover, Tony Kirby, a rich man with a “normal” family, away from the eccentricities of the family.
La Salle’s production of You Can’t Take It With You not only stayed true to the nature of the original play, but also added small details to make the show their own. The cast developed a thorough understanding of their respective characters by creating backstories that extended beyond the show, which helped them fulfill their roles effectively and capably. The technical aspects of this show were not overlooked, and they added beautiful and charming embellishments to complement the work of the cast.
Eddie Pierson, who had a small role in the beginning, became the star of the show as Martin Vanderhof. Witty remarks that might have been overlooked otherwise were hilarious thanks to the work of Pierson. Although Vanderhof was one of the funniest roles, Pierson allowed his character to be serious by giving Tony wise advice nearing the end of the show. On the other hand, Anna Bucher nearly perfected the role of Penelope Sycamore, making it clear to the audience that Penny was not an ordinary mother. Bucher took the traits given to her and created the outlandish yet lovable playwright.
Despite having a small role, A.J. Gehrum stole the show as Rheba. Her constant bantering and positive energy was the cherry on top of this play. With a flawless Russian accent and a larger-than-life personality, Casey Stone's portrayal of Boris Kolenkhov seamlessly fit in with the rest of the Sycamore family.
As stated before, the technical aspects of You Can’t Take It With You blended perfectly with the witty banter and eccentricities of the cast. Set crew, led by Henry Davies, perfected the set so it complimented each and every character. These tiny embellishments, such as the different chairs for each role, brought the whole show together. Makeup crew, led by Anna Bucher, created designs specific to each character, ensuring that the actors' appearances reflected the vision of the makeup team.
La Salle High School’s production of You Can’t Take It With You highlighted every detail visible in the original play, while integrating their own vision of the classic we all know and love.
Review by Alexandra Hess, Campbell County High School Critic Team
From the fast-paced energetic scenes to the powerful emotional moments, La Salle High School set the stage ablaze with their bold and vibrant production of You Can’t Take it With You.
Debuting on Broadway in 1936, You Can’t Take it With You is a Depression-Era period piece by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The story follows Alice Sycamore’s engagement to Tony Kirby, Jr. and the havoc that ensues as their two families collide.
La Salle’s performance cleverly combined physical comedy with intellectual wit, in order to create a dynamic and captivating story. Moreover, the cast’s skill for moving through individualized performance tracks, while staying engaged with their surrounding environment reflected the quirky attributes of each family member, creating a well-balanced ensemble composed of unique and compelling characters.
Eddie Pierson, who played Martin Vanderhof, fully committed to his role as the grandfather of the Sycamore family. Pierson’s exaggerated physicality and masterful comedic timing smoothly paired with his character’s emotive moral principles. His strong acting choices contributed to the development of the plot and various themes within the show. Martin’s daughter Penelope Sycamore played by Anna Bucher, had purposeful focus and energy that created depth and continuity throughout the story. She depicted a wide range of emotions while possessing a distinct vocal inflection and vivacity that made her character’s style consistent and believable.
Two comedic actors, Casey Stone (Boris Kolenkhov) and A.J. Gehrum (Rheba/Grand Duchess Olga Katrina), were vital to the execution of numerous gags and hysterical bits during the show. As Boris and the Grand Duchess, Stone and Gehrum maintained strong Russian accents that suited their character's personal backgrounds. Both actors had a strong stage presence, showing their confidence and exemplifying the highly animated style of the play.
The technical elements of this production fully transported the show into a 1936 New York household. By combining isopropyl alcohol, copper sulfate, and flame, the props crew, lead by Casey Stone, was able to create a chemical-based blaze that cast a mesmerizing emerald hue onto the characters and set, demonstrating the creativity and imagination of the crew. The combined efforts of hair and makeup (A.J. Gehrum and Anna Bucher), as well as costumes (Eddie Pierson), helped to transform the cast into their characters. The costumes were specifically designed for functionality and with the personality of each character in mind, producing realistic and time-accurate pieces; such as work aprons, colorful dresses, and fancy suits. At the same time the makeup contributed to the age differences among the family members, further distinguishing the relationships in the show.
Overall, this production’s hard working cast and crew developed a hilariously captivating show that flawlessly delivered an enthralling comedy while still managing to convey an imperative message about the true value and meaning of wealth because, of course, You Can’t Take it With You.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"A good ensemble is make-or-break in a show like You Can’t Take It With You, and members of the Sycamore family were certainly a highlight of the show. Performances from Caroline Lawson (Essie Carmichael) and Ian Hufford (Ed Carmichael) were simply hilarious, and provided the perfect underscoring for the story. Casey Stone was a stand-out as Boris Kolenkhov, utilizing a Russian accent to distinguish his character."
-Katie Berich, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Another surprising crew element were the props, led by Casey Stone, highlighted by colored fire and a live snake. While most other productions would have found cheeky alternatives to these special elements, La Salle went above and beyond to create a memorable experience."
-Parker Roland, Ryle High School Critic Team
"The set, created by Henry Davies, Andrew Childers, Tyler Riehle, and Ethan Reid; was cleverly designed and highly functional. It included several doorways representing different areas of the house, helping audiences understand where characters were headed in a show full of complicated comings and goings."
-Catherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
"Anna Bucher flawlessly portrayed her character of Penelope Sycamore through her facial expressions and comic delivery, especially when she typed her stories on the typewriter or when the families played the 'Forget Me Not' game. Her character development showed through, and she left the audience entertained. Similarly, Eddie Pierson excellently portrayed the character of Martin Vanderhof, the patriarchal head of the family. His monologue at the end conveyed the theme of family and the valuable lessons in the show."
-Maya DeStazio, Roger Bacon High School Critic Team
"[Claire] Buirely, in her enactment of the stone-cold Alice Sycamore, exhibited an intrinsic aptitude for characterizing a convoluted role. Alice attempts to uphold an emotionless demeanor throughout her love affair with Tony Kirby Jr. (Tyler Riehle), but Buirely seamlessly allows that make-believe act to melt away through her stout, yet underlying weakness for her lover."
-Helena Hennessy, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
"The crew of this production tied everything together. The abnormality of the Sycamores was completed through the use of special effects created by Casey Stone, who also played the arguably funniest character of the show, Boris Kolenkhov. Casey and his crew concocted an actual green fire and used smoke to represent Paul Sycamore’s fireworks. The makeup crew, A.J. Gehrum and Anna Bucher, perfectly applied the facial lines and wig on Eddie Pierson, further allowing him to captivate Martin Vanderhof’s character as a grandpa."
-Jenna Ryan, Roger Bacon
"To put it all into a nice ribbon, this show led the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions while still allowing for this epitome of a comedy to take the stage. So, whether it was being arrested in the middle of dinner or being witness on of grandpa’s learned observations, this production, full of spunk and exuberance, gave the audience a night full of laughter, heartbreak, and a little something to think about on the way home."
-Charlotte Weghorst, Highlands High School Critic Team