You Can’t Take It With You
is a Pulitzer Prize winning comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
that originally opened in 1936. It features the contrast of two
dissimilar families and a seemingly doomed courtship. We had no idea
what we were in for:
KRISTA SHERER: I loved this
play. I thought it was touching and colorful, jazzy, kitschy, playful.
I loved the lessons in it, what it was trying to talk about—I think
everybody can relate to it. Everybody thinks their family is weirder
than others. I loved the two worlds clashing.
SAMANTHA CAMPOS: Yeah, I
could definitely relate to the dynamics of having such a jumbled
assortment of characters in my bloodline. And I think they did a great
job with the period wardrobe and set—it looked believable, you know? A
real, “lived in” living room.
SHERER: I loved the sound of
the typewriter! You don’t hear that noise anymore and there’s something
nostalgic about that. It reminds me of an era we’re coming out
of—nothing to do with technology. And you know, it was a very political
play. I’ll tell you, I was really shocked at how uncomfortable I was
with the servants (played by Lorie Daniels and Rueben Carrion)—the
Porgy & Bess thing?
CAMPOS: I know! And I
realize the dialogue and characterization were right for the time, but
my first reaction was it made me kinda queasy.
SHERER: Well, it was very
apropos for this month—Black History Month. It brings us to a
consciousness of where we’ve been, and where we are. We don’t want to
be reminded but it’s real. We do need to be reminded. This is a part of
CAMPOS: You’re right. That’s
a good point. But what about Grandpa (played by Jonathan Lehman)? He
was such a Buddha—a perfect, natural sage. Plus he had style!
Savoir-faire! And he wore hats!
SHERER: I didn’t feel like
he was acting, I felt like he was channeling this beautiful knowledge
that was very deep. I can’t tell if he was just a fabulous actor or if
the role suited him as a person.
CAMPOS: Me, neither. Probably both.
SHERER: I love how as a
family they were so manic but very supportive of each other. Mama
Sycamore (played by Kristi Scott) was very cute and funny. It was her
husband (played by Brian Miller) I was very annoyed with in the
beginning by his softness, his weakness. And then I realized in the end
that he had to be that way to compensate for the loudness of the rest
of the family.
CAMPOS: That’s funny you
should say that. ‘Cause I almost found myself to be a little
embarrassed by Mrs. Sycamore’s grandeur—until the end, when she showed
some vulnerability. And Mr. Sycamore, too—when they had to display
doubt and fear, that really rounded out their realness to me, and all
of their previous actions suddenly made sense.
SHERER: Mr. DePinna (played
by Richard McLaughlin) reminded me of the pirate from the Princess
Bride. I kept expecting him to say, “Inconceivable!” A lot of the
characters took a while to warm up. Tony Kirby (played by Sam
Sternthall), especially—but when he came in with rumpled hair,
something freed him.
CAMPOS: I think that had a lot to do with his character really coming into his own and standing up to his rigid father, too.
SHERER: Okay, getting on to
our favorite—Boris Kolenkhov (played by William Makozak)! He brought so
much zest, pizzazz, to the stage. He was like a tall Vodka tonic. He
was hilarious. A total scene-stealer.
CAMPOS: Yeah, I loved him.
He had that accent down so well I actually looked up his name in the
program to see if he really was Russian. How about that Russian
chick—The Grand Duchess (played by Sharleen Lagattuta)? Awesome. Her
laugh slayed me.
SHERER: I think I met her in
a bar once. I’m kidding, but she was striking. And a great actress. And
that last scene was very tender. Like you said, the switching of the
roles, beautifully done. It definitely invoked emotion. The whole
audience was on the edge of their seats, with the two worlds colliding.
The woman next to me was literally sitting on the edge of her seat. MTW