The Northwestern theater department is about to open a spring show that will give audiences a much needed laugh. Friday, April 17 is opening night for “You Can’t Take it With You,” a comedic story of romance and family loyalty.
“This show revolves around the Sycamore family. They are a very quirky group,” said theatre student Amanda Hays who plays Alice Sycamore — one of two daughters in the family.”
Hays’ character is the normal one in the Sycamore family, and happens to be a secretary for her fiancées father, Mr. Kirby. Alice plans a dinner in an attempt to get the Kirby and Sycamore family to interact, but the personalities of the two families are as opposite as can be. Warren Duncan, a freshman acting, plays Alice’s fiancée, Tony.
“Tony Kirby comes from a very respectable family,” Duncan said. “They are well groomed. Tony went Cambridge. He’s a high class kind of guy.”
Tony’s father is in the business world and, much to Tony’s distaste, wants him to be a businessman just like his old man.
“My character is just as interested in marrying into the family as he is interested in marrying Alice,” Duncan said.
Unfortunately for the couple, the dinner does not go as they had hoped, and the eccentric families find out just how dissonant they really are. The play is full of dynamic and contrasting characters, which can create quite the scene.
“It’s a weird thing to put six crazy characters on stage,” Duncan said. “The play becomes super hectic. It’s like, let’s get the weirdest characters and put them together with two normal people and see what happens.”
Hays finds joy in trying to maintain composure as a normal character in a play full of the loud, wild and outrageous personalities.
“They are very eccentric and out of this world characters,” Hays said. “I play one of the two normal characters so it’s fun to try and keep a straight face.”
For Hays and Duncan, the design team stole the show. From the highly detailed set to lights, sound, props and costuming this show is a cut above the rest.
“I really like working with the set,” Duncan said. “Jonathan Sabo [NW theatre department professor of set design] has done a perfect job of portraying the Sycamore family’s home. It’s fantastic seeing the growth of the set from day one to where it is now.”
For Duncan, it is Sabo’s attention to detail that makes the set design so special.
“As an actor, you don’t have to worry. If there is an awkward pause, just look up at the weird deer head,” Duncan said.
In the same way Duncan expresses his love for the production’s set design, Hays is floored by the costumes designed by senior theatre major Amber Beyer.
“I feel like I step into the 30s when I put on the costume,” Hays said. “The costumes fit the characters and their personalities so well.”
Even with a cast of kooky characters and a design team that went above and beyond to create the spectacle of a beautifully crafted set, one of the most powerful aspects of the production is the theme. That theme is perfectly expressed in the show’s title.
“The main theme of the show is that you can’t take the material things of the world with you. Do what you love and don’t care about making money and being high up in a job.”
“Our generation kind of has this mindset of ‘let’s make money and have a successful life,’” Hays said. “If you’re not doing what you love and for the King than there isn’t anything to it.”
“You Can’t Take it With You” is a light-hearted and eccentric comedy, but students in the production don’t want laughs to drown out the important theme the play is trying show.
“It’s a comedy so you can get caught up in this is funny or romantic, but you have to find the heart of the story too,” Hays said.