Newest theater production brings the jokes

Live, laugh, love, they say. That’s part of the message of the comedy play “You Can’t Take It With You,” Liberty’s latest theater production. Set in 1930s Manhattan, the audience watches the Sycamore family go about their daily activities. Mr. Sycamore sets off his fireworks, Mrs. Sycamore writes a plethora of plays, their daughter Essie bakes candy and dances ballet and Grandpa evades his income taxes.

The youngest daughter Alice enters to tell the family that her beau, Tony Kirby, is stopping by to take her on a date, and then she goes upstairs to get ready. After their date, Alice expresses reservations about getting serious with Tony because of familial differences, so they plan a dinner for the families to meet. The dinner is disastrous —  Mrs. Kirby and Mrs. Sycamore argue over their hobbies, Essie’s Russian ballet instructor breaks Mr. Kirby’s glasses and a game suggested by Mrs. Sycamore stirs tension between the Kirbys.

Alice feels exasperated by the family’s apparent inability to overcome their differences, but Grandpa steps in to remind everyone that Alice and Tony have the right to pursue their dream to be together, and that the families ought to try harder to understand each other. 

The values of the play resonated deeply with the actors as well. Charity Turley, a junior BFA acting major, played the role of Penny Sycamore. She adores Penny for the way the character cares for her family and pursues her dream of becoming a playwright, which also happens to be one of Turley’s own hobbies. Turley hopes to publish her plays someday, and as she read through her script, she took note of Penny’s passion for playwriting and determined that Penny’s plays could make it to Broadway too.

Turley appreciated the joyful family-centered theme of the show, noting that the cast is a real family not only on the stage, but behind the scenes too. 

“Before we even started rehearsals, we started meeting together as a family for family dinners because we knew that’s something we’d be doing in the show,” Turley said. “We were focusing a lot on bonding since we knew that we would need that aspect in our performance, and then once we got in rehearsal, we were already a family.”

In addition, Turley thinks that the audience benefits from watching the show because it gives them a better appreciation for their own families. Although the Sycamores are quite a quirky clan, spectators can relate to and laugh at the crazy in their family dynamics. They could be divided by their many different interests, but the Sycamores are united by their goal to live peacefully with each other and to pursue their own happiness.

The comedic elements of the show did not disappoint. The jokes and laughs are contrasted by the musings of what truly matters the most in life. 

“People should come see ‘You Can’t Take it With You’ because it is sweet and funny, and rides the perfect balance between making you laugh your head off and making you contemplate your life, which is all you could ever ask for from a play,” Turley said. 

To purchase tickets, visit the Liberty Theater website.  

Greene is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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