There was not much to laugh about in our country back in The Depressions years of the 1930s. However, Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman managed to take those troubled times and create a very funny Broadway play, "You Can't Take It With You."
The staff at Okoboji Summer Theatre has brought together a huge cast of acting students, professional actors and a talented director to present this classic. We in the opening night audience laughed and laughed.
The Vanderhof/Sycamore household is, to put it mildly, eclectic. Each person has his or her idiosyncrasies which lead to much mayhem as the story progresses. There are 19 people in this cast so I do not have the time or space to discuss each individually. Thirteen cast members are theatre arts students and six are professionals.
Stephens College can be proud of the performances by their students Emmi Lintner, Emily Bricker and Madison Welch. Lintner as the mother is so hilarious. She puts her all into that role and I couldn't help but love her. I am sure that Bricker is a very good dancer, so her clumsy ballet performances became that much more comical. She did a find job in her role of sister of the prospective bride.
The female half of the romantic duo in the story was portrayed by Welch. We could feel her frustration and embarrassment of her rather eccentric family as well as her strong love for them. Well done Madison Welch. Her love interest was played by Dalton Mobley. He had the good looks and charm needed for the part and did a fine job of playing off her as well as his father throughout the show.
I really enjoyed our area contribution to the cast. Attorney Jon Martin from Lake Park assumed the role of the bride-to-be's father Paul Sycamore. His strange addition to building fireworks in the basement of the home was very amusing. Martin, were he not a lawyer, could easily be a professional actor. He was very good in this role.
I loved Rob Doyen as the grandfather Martin Vanderhof and Boris Kolenkhov, played by Michael Rapport. They are so very good with timing the delivery of their lines. Boris is Russian and Rapport gave his accent the right amount of foreign fervor.
Kip Niven can play stuffy, self-righteous and pompous extremely well. As the father of the groom-to-be, he was very humorous. I loved his portrayal!
Katherine Moore drew the role of a very drunk Gay Wellington. She had to pass out, appear comatose in really awkward body positions, etc. She was hilarious! It might not have been a very large role, but you won't soon forget her.
Kudos to director Michael Evan Haney for pulling such a large group together into a cohesive, talented troupe. Nathan Lee deserves a standing ovation for his set design. It was comical to see how the walls of the home were decorated with everything from musical instruments, to hunting equipment with stuffed creatures, hanging along side tennis rackets, jousting paraphernalia and more. You couldn't help but chuckle at the authentic but comical set.
The costuming, done by Sierra Hughes, was authentic to the time period while adding color to the muted tones of the set.
The show was somewhat longer, due to two intermissions but the time seemed to fly by.
I enjoyed the entire performance from beginning to end. It was a great way to spend an evening; relaxing, being entertained and laughing a lot.
"You Can't Take It With You" runs through Sunday night. I was told that Sunday night's show was already sold out on opening night. Get your tickets now.