‘You Can’t Take It With You’ opening soon
With next week’s opening, Alpena Civic Theatre resurrects an old classic: the award-winning comedic play, “You Can’t Take It With You.” Last presented at ACT in 1974, Director Jay Kettler has long desired to do the show.
“This was a bucket list show for me to direct,” said Kettler, who’s been around theater for decades. Over the course of his professional and volunteer life, he’s been associated with about 240 shows either as an actor, director or in some other capacity. Now his time has come to direct an old favorite that he fondly recalls seeing years ago at the Shaw Festival in Canada.
“I like to sit on the aisle,” Kettler said. “I laughed so hard in one scene that I fell out of my seat, but it wasn’t embarrassing because everyone else was laughing just as hard.”
Written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, “You Can’t Take It With You” originally premiered on Broadway in 1936 and ran for 838 performances. In 1937, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was adapted for the screen, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director.
ACT’s show runs March 9-12 and March 16-19 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
The story of “You Can’t Take It With You” happens entirely in the house of a slightly batty New York City family that includes the patriarch, Grandpa Vanderhof, an eccentric old man who keeps snakes and has never paid his income tax. Various other unique characters of the Vanderhof-Sycamore-Carmichael clan filter in and out, adding to the hilarity. You’ve got a tinkerer who manufactures fireworks in the basement, a childish candymaker who dreams of being a ballerina and an amateur printer who prints any phrase that sounds catchy.
Audiences also can expect some surprises and some bangs from fireworks explosions.
“It’s a family show, completely family friendly,” Powell said. “I would recommend it for elementary age on up. You will see a lot of wacky people doing funny things and some elements of physical comedy.”
Kettler cast 17 total in the show, including audience favorite Karl Heidemann as the grandfather.
“It was one his bucket list roles,” said Assistant Director Bill Powell of Heidemann.
According to Kettler, Heidemann first saw a live theater production of “You Can’t Take It With You” on a seventh grade field trip to Wayne State University. The theater experience became a life changing moment for him and sparked his own life-long interest in the performing arts.
Both Kettler and Powell also are pleased to have Matt Southwell return as a part of the cast. Southwell performed the title role in ACT’s first production in 2017, “Mister Roberts.” This time around he plays Boris Kolenkhov, a Russian who escaped to America shortly before the Russian Revolution and now is overly concerned about world politics.
“Matt has a marvelous Russian accent,” Powell said of Southwell’s new role.
Director and assistant director remain enthusiastic about the entire cast from top to bottom.
“It may be the best cast I’ve ever worked with in my entire life,” Kettler said. “With this cast, each one brings something special with their character. Everybody brings something to the table.”
“This cast has such depth,” added Powell.
Along with Heidemann and Southwell, others appearing in the show include Diane Lozen, Rachel Taratuta, Jackie Herbert, Nick Hartman, Randy Bouchard, Nick Stone, Scott Edgar, Amanda Hulsey, James Shultz, Kevin Bey, Janet Romas, Bruce Michaud, Donna Gilmet-Reinke, Karen Bacon, Ted Rockwell and James Shultz.
In addition to Kettler and Powell, the production team is comprised of Jackie Grulke and Judy Beyer as stage managers, Marilyn Kettler and Mary Ann Crawford on costumes, and Andrew MacNeill on lights/sound.
For tickets to the show, contact the ACT box office at 354-3624.