The holidays have just wrapped up, a time not only of giving and receiving but of getting together with relatives, some of whom may be of the quirky or idiosyncratic nature.
Perhaps in honor of those relatives who make family gatherings more interesting, the Falmouth Theatre Guild will present “You Can’t Take It With You” this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as Friday, January 24, Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26 at Highfield Theatre in Falmouth.
The play, which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1937, is jam-packed with colorful characters, from Penny, an aspiring playwright who developed her passion for writing when a typewriter was accidentally delivered to her house, to her husband, Paul, who makes fireworks in the basement, to their daughter the ballerina and her husband the xylophone player.
Presiding over his family of eccentrics is Martin Vanderhof, who keeps snakes as pets and has never paid income tax. It’s Grandfather Vanderhof who presents the play’s central message to stuffy businessman Tony Kirby, that he should make the most of his life because—you can’t take it with you.
“It’s a well-crafted screw-ball comedy with a wonderful message,” said Lisa Jo Rudy, the play’s director. “It’s beloved.”
The film version of the play, directed by Frank Capra, won the Academy Awards for best picture and best director in 1938. Although the play is one of the 10 most often produced by schools and community theater groups, this will be the first time the Falmouth Theatre Guild has staged it.
“It’s has a universal theme and it’s a good reminder of the importance of mindfulness and of being aware of what’s going on around you and engaging with it and just experiencing life at its fullest,” Ms. Rudy said. “The message is find your passion. Do what you love with the people you love.”
The show boasts an impressive 19-member cast and is very much an ensemble production. “We have a neat cast with a lot of people who are either brand new to the stage or new to the Falmouth stage,” Ms. Rudy said. “We’ve got a great group of people putting it together.”
Ms. Rudy said she’s turned to some of her veteran performers, including Davien Gould and Tom Pucci for help with comic timing. “For questions such as, ‘what can we do to make this scene funnier?’ they have been great,” she said.
Ms. Rudy was also appreciative of members of the Cape community with specific areas of expertise who have helped behind the scenes with the production.
For example, the character of Ed plays the xylophone for his wife, Essie, who wants to be a ballerina and “certain pieces of music are referenced in the play,” Ms. Rudy said. Classically trained percussionist Amy Lynn Barber of Sandwich recorded the marimba music for the play. “We actually have the music properly recorded, so that’s going to be very cool,” Ms. Rudy said.
As an aspiring ballerina, the character of Essie needed to have a few dance moves, so choreographer Heather Shepley stepped in to work with Sandra Basile, who is playing the role. “She now has some short choreographed dances that she’s doing,” Ms. Rudy said.The single set for the play is elaborate with various levels and a set of stairs. “Because everyone in the Vanderhof family has their own thing, they all have their own space,” said Ms. Rudy. Peter D. Cook, Ms. Rudy’s husband, is providing technical direction for the play. Todd Sadler is the producer.
The show is also prop heavy, explained Ms. Rudy. “The Vanderhof family loves everything, they are creative and they collect. The set will be fun to look at.” And if that weren’t enough to keep the audience on its toes, there will also be a certain amount of pyrotechnics.
“It’s easy to enjoy,” Ms. Rudy said. “You will walk out smiling. You will spend a lot of time laughing.”
Tickets to “You Can’t Take It With You” are available at www.falmouththeatreguild.org and also by phone at 866-811-4111 or at the box office one hour before each performance.
Friday night performances start at 7:30 PM with 2 PM matinees scheduled for both Saturdays and Sundays.
The Highfield Theater is at 56 Highfield Drive in Falmouth.