Funny show coming to London High School stage

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Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
The cast of London High School’s upcoming production of “You Can’t Take It With You” includes: (seated, from left) Kyleigh Wilson, Anthony Holfinger, Quinton Brown, Ben Treynor, Gabi Wolverton; (standing) backstage manager Kenny Gaverick, Ariel Cochrane, Cole Wiggins, Nathan Taylor, Mckenna Coleman, Ethan Davitt, Kaelyn Thoman, Isabella Kerry, Kaylee Stephens and Olivia Davitt.

(Posted Nov. 8, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

After debuting on Broadway in 1936, “You Can’t Take It With You” garnered a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Its screen adaptation won Academy Awards for best picture and best director. The play has ranked as one of the 10 most-produced school plays every year since amateur rights became available in 1939.

For these reasons and more, Scott Blanton, London High School English teacher and theater department director, chose “You Can’t Take It With You” as this year’s fall stage production. Performances are set for 7 p.m. Nov. 19-20 and 2 p.m. Nov. 21. Admission is $7 for students and $8 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

The storyline takes place entirely inside the New York City home of the eccentric but lovable Sycamore family. Alice Sycamore, the one “normal” member of the family, falls in love with her boss’s son, Tony Kirby Jr. The couple wants their families to meet, however Alice worries about the potential clash between her odd bunch and Anthony’s wealthy, “regular” bunch.

“Tony and his parents mistakenly come over a day early, and the Sycamore house is in crazy disarray. They’re building fireworks in the basement. They’re dancing to xylophone music. It’s unsettling for Alice because she wants everything to be perfect. That’s where the comedy happens,” Blanton said.

The large cast of characters makes for great roles and organized chaos on stage. Blanton said his group of student-actors is doing a great job with the material.

“It’s been a lot of fun in rehearsals–lots of laughs, lots of good times,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of motion on the stage. People are in and out constantly which adds to the comedy of the whole situation. You never know who’s going to pop in.”

When asked to talk about the cast and crew, Blanton took the opportunity to shine the spotlight on the seniors in the production.

Cole Wiggins plays Donald, boyfriend to the maid and a helpful handyman to the Sycamore family in emergencies. Blanton appreciates Wiggins’s dedication to his role and rehearsals, especially considering his busy schedule with other extracurriculars.

Nathan Taylor plays Ed Carmichael, the son-in-law responsible for the aforementioned xylophone music and an amateur printer who prints anything that sounds catchy to him.

“This is Nathan’s second year at London. He is a great addition to the program. He has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for theater,” Blanton said.

Kenny Gaverick serves as the production’s backstage manager and has helped on stage crews for several years.

Rounding out the seniors, Ben Treynor plays Grandpa Sycamore whose philosophy on life serves as the play’s overarching message. Grandpa decided at some point in his life that working hard every day and getting ulcers wasn’t the way to go. Because “you can’t take it with you,” he makes the most of life in the moment. The whole family follows suit.

“Ben brings a lot of himself to the character,” Blanton said.

The entire cast is bringing something of themselves to the stage, not only in their acting but in a tactile way.

“The play had a recent revival on Broadway. One of the things that caught my eye is that they had all of the cast members bring knickknacks of sentimental value to include in the house. It was a way to add a little bit of themselves to the production,” Blanton said. “I thought it would be a fun thing for us to do, too.”

Among the items London’s student-actors are adding to the set are a bust of Virgil, a Roman poet, and a replica of Venus de Milo, a marble statue of a Greek goddess.

This year’s show marks the first time since 2009 that London has put on “You Can’t Take It With You.” Blanton is excited not only to revisit one of his favorite plays but also to hopefully reap the rewards of the momentum it likely will create for the school’s theater department.

“What’s nice is having a large cast for the fall play… We want to get as many people involved as we can so we can keep the momentum going into the spring musical,” he said.

Cast list

Penny–Gabby Wolverton (junior)

Essie–Mckenna Coleman (junior)

Rheba–Ariel Cochrane (junior)

Paul–Quinton Brown (freshman)

Mr. De Pinna–Sam Homan (junior)

Ed–Nathan Taylor (senior)

Donald–Cole Wiggins (senior)

Grandpa–Ben Treynor (senior)

Alice–Kyleigh Wilson (junior)

Henderson–Olivia Davitt (junior)

Tony–Anthony Holfinger (junior)

Kolenkhov–J.D. Lickliter (sophomore)

Gay–Jamie Davis (sophomore)

Mr. Kirby–Ethan Davitt (freshman)

Mrs. Kirby–Kelcey Farrell (sophomore)

Olga–Chloee King (sophomore)

Government agents–Kaelyn Thoman (sophomore), Kaylee Stephens (freshman) and Isabella Kerry (freshman)

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