You can take the fall play with you

TheatreMcLean prepares for You Can’t Take It With You


Izabela Firlej

Cast members Amanda Mullet, John Godwin, Michael Aten, Graham Cole, Benjamin Cudmore, Avery Versaw, Sophie Camus and Nathan Fimbres pose for press photos. TheatreMcLean’s fall production of You Can’t Take It With You will show in the McLean auditorium Nov. 20-24.

Nicholas Lohman and Marina Qu

Expect yelling. Expect chaos. Expect laughter. Expect tears. Expect the humorous fall play to relieve some holiday stress.
Showing in the auditorium from Nov. 20-24, TheatreMcLean’s You Can’t Take It With You is a 1930s Broadway romantic comedy. Alice Sycamore, the main character, who is played by senior Rebecca Blacksten and junior Avery Versaw, shows the importance of family support and staying true to oneself.
Blacksten, an aspiring actress, has only missed one school production in her time here, but this is her first time in a lead role.
“When I opened up the cast list and saw that I was the lead actor I literally started sobbing,” Blacksten said. “This is my favorite play ever. So when I heard we were doing it, I thought, maybe I could be Alice, and then I got it, and I was just so excited.”
In the play, Alice is raised by goofy parents who sit back and enjoy what the world has to offer. They approach life with a “do whatever makes you happy” attitude and choose to love things they are terrible at, like ballet and playwriting.
When she falls in love with Tony, who is from a stern Wall Street family, she is scared Tony and his family will judge her parents. Tony, though, is inspired by her carefree family.
“It’s such a beautiful piece about family and love in its purest form,” Blacksten said. “The show really encapsulates what it means to be a loving, caring family. It really speaks to how amazing the world is.”
Auditions were held in early September. The cast and crew started preparing for the play that month and spent about two months working on the production four to five times per week, staying as late as 10 at night.
“It’s really long and crazy. I would imagine I’m here working on the show for close to 100 hours. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint but I’m here a lot,” TheatreMcLean director Phillip Reid said.
The unusually high number of lines in the production has posed some difficulties.
“It’s very rare to see me at home when I don’t have my lines in my hands and am flipping through my script,” Blacksten said.
As one of the most challenging aspects of acting, shifting between moods throughout the play can be particularly hard.
“I have scene partners who have a bunch of emotions too,” Blacksten said. “We’re just clashing against each other trying to figure out what would work with each other.”
TheatreMcLean uses double casting, which means that two actors perform the same character on different nights. While this makes communicating a bit challenging, it makes the show unique.
“If you go on different nights, you will see different choices actors [make],” said junior Benjamin Cudmore, the lead actor for Tony Kirby. “One of the girls in my cast’s show jumps onto me, but the other cast does something completely different.”
Blacksten’s favorite scene happens when Tony is planning to propose, but Alice is afraid of exposing her unusual family. It is a great insight into their complicated but passionate relationship.
“In this scene, I get to work with the cast members I’ve known for years but never gotten to do scenes with,” Blacksten said. “I suddenly get to do really wonderful emotional scenes with people I’m really good friends with, and it’s just so exciting.”
The play reaches its climax when Tony brings his stern parents to visit the odd Sycamore family before Alice has time to hide their quirkiness.
“I just love seeing the reactions on everyone’s faces and the tension in the room. There’s a lot of comedic bits in this scene that I think are the best because it is where all the action happens,” Cudmore said. “Mr. Kirby gets body slammed. Craziness is happening.”
Upon seeing the name of the play, students may wonder, “What can you not take with you?”
“When you pass away, you can’t take all that material goods and money with you,” Reid said. “So why not live your life to the fullest and do all the things you want to do?”
Even though the play is more than 80 years old, the values still apply to students and parents today.
“[At] the high school level [when] we’re so stressed about tests and grades and trying to get into the best colleges, we need to take a moment and step back and [ask], ‘Is it all worth it?’” Reid said.
Students can buy tickets for the production online or at the door for a newly discounted price of $8. This year, TheatreMcLean is also accepting payment via credit cards. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-23. There will be a 2 p.m. matinée on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s just a fun show that everybody can find some part in whether it’s humor or the drama of it, or just the fact that there’s fireworks and a lot of terrible ballet dancing,” Blacksten said. “Where else can you go see that?”