Sunday, October 8, 2017

You Can’t Take It With You—Beaverton Civic Theatre—Beaverton, OR

“Those Were The Days…”

This classic comedy from the 30’s by (George S.) Kaufman & (Moss) Hart is directed by Kraig Williams.  It is playing at their space, 12375 SW 5th St. (plenty of free parking in their lot), through October 14th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-754-9866.

Yes, nostalgia rings sweet nowadays, especially with all the turmoil in this present age, with everybody hating and threatening to kill anyone who doesn’t believe or look like them.  But, keep in mind, when this was written, we had just come out of a Depression and Prohibition, and WWII was looming on the horizon.  But somehow, those distant relatives of ours knew how to laugh at themselves and the government.  We didn’t take ourselves so seriously.  We knew how to have fun, in spite of controversy, and we laughed with each other, not at each other, regardless of differences.  And money and electronic technology were not the gods they seem to be now.  As the play reports, “you can’t take it with you,” so be happy in the here and now.

The microcosm of this sort of world rests on an unlikely clan of misfits.  Grandpa (Gary Anderson), collects stamps and snakes, goes to the zoo whenever he likes and refuses to pay taxes because he hasn’t figured out what he’s getting personally for the money he’d pay to them.  His philosophy being, I assume, that tax money should be spent on things he/we think(s) are important.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot if the money, our money, was only put toward what we thought was worthwhile like, maybe, education, or medical care, or fighting animal and child abuse, or the Arts…what a different world it might be.  I think Grandpa may be on to something.  But, I digress….

Others in this eccentric, extended family consist of his daughter, Penny (Patti Speight), a playwright and understanding mother and her inventor husband (Michael Allen), who makes fireworks in their basement, with his goofy partner, Mr. De Pinna (Neil Wade Freer).  Their children are the free-spirited Essie (Ciera Gregg), who has dreams of being a ballet dancer and her loopy husband, Ed (Jordan Fugitt), who accompanies her by playing Beethoven on his xylophone.  The other daughter, Alice (Nicole Rayner), is more straight-laced and actually has a real job in a company as a secretary.  And she seems to have joined “the establishment” and as she is dating the son of the owner, Tony (Benjamin Philip), a bit of a rebel himself.

Then there is Rheba (Valerie Vorderlandwehr), the outspoken maid/cook of the family and her ditzy mate, Donald (Les Ico), who seems to be the gofer for the family.  Adding to the confusion are Boris (Kyle Urban), Essie’s ballet instructor and outspoken Russian revolutionist and his compatriot, the Grand Duchess (Patricia Alston) who, after fleeing the USSR, is now a waitress in a diner.  Also a drunken actress, Gay (Diana LoVerso) appears on the scene, who is to read for Penny’s play. 
And a most unwelcome guest, an IRS flunky agent, Henderson (Glenn Russell), is attempting to collect back taxes.  There is also Mr. (Dennis Proulx) & Mrs. Kirby (Jeanine Stassens), the very straight-laced parents of Tony.  And, in a moment of even more chaos, four G-men (Linh Nguyen, Charles Wilson, Levi King and Dwayne Thurnau) raid the house.  If you haven’t been able to glean the humor and mischief of this madcap mix-up by now, then you’ll just have to see it for yourself as to how it all comes out.

This play was considered a classic of its time, as it had two of the most respected comedy writers of the time at the helm.  Now it is a bit dated but some of the character types created in this play can be seen in typical sit-coms of this age.  By the third act the message is clear and is relevant to today’s situations.  What we should treasure most is not in what’s in the bank or our pocketbooks but in the good company of friends and the right to live and pursue happiness.  “If you can’t laugh…what good are ya!”

The cast seems amazingly right for their parts, thanks to Williams, and to his clever blocking of the play.  They all have the right look and feel for the characters they enact.  In particular, Proulx and Stassens are perfect as the stiff-necked parents of their emerging son to manhood.  And Anderson plays it to the hilt as the grass-roots philosopher, who has the wisdom of Solomon, but the bearing of a shepherd who herds this flock of nomads.  Grandpa is the anchor and voice of the authors in the story and Anderson handles it very astutely.

I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
And if you like what this company does, here is another play you might want to check out, based on one of my personal favorite stories and very appropriate for all ages by their Youth company:

A comical and family-friendly retelling of the classic tale of bumbling schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, after he moves to Sleepy Hollow, a town haunted by a headless horseman.
Sunday October 15th from 1pm-2pm, join us at the Beaverton City Library to meet the characters from Sleepy Hollow and make some fun crafts together! Ages 2-10 with family.

Based on the book by Washington Irving
Adapted for the stage by Frederick Gaines
Directed by Sarah Omniski
October 21st & 28th, 2017
Performance times at 11am, 1pm & 3pm

LOCATION NAME: Beaverton Civic Theatre 12375 SW 5th St, Beaverton, OR 97005
CONTACT INFO: Contact the Beaverton Civic Theatre at or 503-754-9866 with any questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment