Carlynton High School students will light up the stage quite literally as they bring to life the laugh-out-loud 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
“It’s hilarious. It’s a fantastic comedy,” director Tonilyn Jackson said.
The show tells the story of a “zany, artistic, lovable family” that pursues some rather curious hobbies, Jackson said. When the daughter brings home her fiance and his family to meet the eclectic clan, chaos ensues in this story that will teach audience members the importance of valuing family and those you love.
“I want them to leave here and feel like, ‘I want to call up my best friend who I haven’t talked with in a while,’ and to embrace opportunities when they have it,” Jackson said.
The fast-paced show will be sure to keep the audience’s attention.
Lots of big-time special effects are planned, including fireworks and “lights and sounds like crazy,” Jackson said.
The 24-member cast will be joined onstage by Myrtle the Turtle, Virginia Woof, an 11-month Bernedoodle and a betta fish.
They’re learning to adapt to anything. Luckily, they have practice in improv and there’s a 22-member stage crew, with students assigned specifically to the animals and fireworks.
“It’s very exciting and eccentric,” senior Rachel Welsh, 17, who plays Mrs. Kirby, said of the show. “Everyone gets distracted by the dogs.”
Jackson selected the show this year to mix things up a bit after Carlynton performed shows geared for a younger audience the last three years. Those shows included “Alice in Wonderland,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Peter Pan.”
Cast members are enjoying the switch-up.
“We’ve been animals. We’ve been creatures. We’ve been Oompa Loompas. To actually be people, it’s like ‘Yes!’” said senior Kayla Wilson, 17, who plays Gay Wellington.
Senior Natalie Latta, 18, who plays the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina, said this brings a whole new level of acting to Carlynton’s fall play.
She laughs that she went from playing a “Lost Boy” last year to a “scary Russian lady” this year.
“I get to have this whole new side,” she said.
While senior cast members agree their character development has improved during the last four years, they also say theater has helped them in life outside the classroom.
“It’s a great way to have this boost in confidence,” Latta said. “When you’re onstage, you’re up in front of hundreds of people, then you go to class and you have to give a presentation and you’re like ‘I’ve got this.’”
Playing a quirky family onstage was something cast members could relate to.
“Everyone in the show is so unique and different and that’s how we all are,” Wilson said.
Cast members said they feel like one big family, even though each of them is different.
The fall play is something they look forward to participating in every year.
“I’m definitely going to be sad to leave,” Wilson said.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributor.