‘You Can’t Take It’ comes to Elgin stage
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media June 7, 2012 11:16AM
‘You Can’t Take it With You’
♦ June 15-July 1
♦ Kimball Street Theater in the Ryder Center of Elgin Academy, Elgin
♦ Tickets, $12-$15
♦ (847) 741-0532
Updated: June 11, 2012 5:26PM
The Elgin Theater Company takes on a classic comedy for its summer production.
Linda Collins directs the Pulitzer-prize winning play “You Can’t Take it With You,” which runs June 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, and 30 and July 1 at the Kimball Street Theater in the Ryder Center of Elgin Academy. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m.; Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.
She warned that this production is the original stage version of the play, not the movie version that starred Jimmy Stewart.
The play is set in the 1930s and is about two young lovers, Alice Sycamore and Tony Kirby, and what happens when Tony brings his parents over to the Sycamore house for supper.
“The whole premise of this story is that the Sycamores are wacky. They’re crazy,” Collins said. “They have this attitude that everyone is to do whatever they like, as long as it makes you happy. There is a very free and open environment in the Sycamore family, whereas Tony’s family is very straight-laced and stuffy. Alice is very fearful that her new perspective in-laws will never accept her family because of how wacky they are.”
For starters, Grandpa Sycamore has never paid any income tax.
“So that’s a sub plot that’s going on, that the government is after him to pay his taxes, but he doesn’t believe it in,” she says. “There’s a very funny scene between him and the IRS guy where they are arguing over why he should pay income taxes.”
Alice’s mother, Penny Sycamore, writes bad plays and is a horrible artist; while her husband makes fireworks in the basement. Alice’s sister Effie is a terrible dancer, and Penny’s husband Ed makes masks on a printing press and plays the xylophone.
The characters that populate the Sycamore house include Alice’s father’s friend the Ice Man, who lives with them and helps make the basement fireworks. There’s also Effie’s Russian dance teacher, who continues to teach Effie despite lack of talent. Then there’s a Mexican house keeper with her own wacky boyfriend.
“This is a hilarious comedy,” she said. “It’s very, very funny.”
Then we meet the stuff Kirby family, who are the exact opposite of the free-wheeling Sycamores.
“The Kirbys come on the wrong night,” she said. “And mayhem ensues. Alice is very specific and says no dancing, no fireworks, no reading your plays. And grandpa has pet snakes that are in the living room. But the Kirbys show up the night before they’re supposed to, and everyone is being their natural selves. The whole evening ends quite badly with everyone being hauled off to jail.”
Her cast is handling the slapstick material with aplomb, she said.
“It’s turning out beautifully,” she said.
People will respond to this play not only because it’s familiar, but also because it’s a powerful story about keeping things in perspective.
“We know we all have to work and produce, but really the lesson is in the title — you can’t take it with you,” she said. “You can kill yourself and try to earn money or you can take time to smell the roses and spend time with the people you love and do the things you’re passionate about, because we only have one life.”