University of Lynchburg’s fall theatre production invites audience members to laugh, enjoy life, and offer love and acceptance to friends and family—whether their friends and family are learning dance, writing plays, or building fireworks in the basement.
“You Can’t Take it With You” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. October 1-3 and 2 p.m. on October 4 in Dillard Theatre. (Ticket information.)
The 1936 play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart takes place in “a vein of hope between the stock market crash and before WWII,” explained Jeff Wittman, LC theatre professor and director of the show. The story centers on a quirky family and the variety of unique personalities they interact with in their New York City home. The grandfather has evaded income taxes for 24 years and keeps pet snakes. The mother spends her days writing plays and painting while one daughter takes dance lessons, although neither has real talent for those activities. The father builds fireworks with the help of a former ice delivery man who came in one day and never left.
Their world collides with a much more high-class, corporate one when their daughter Alice becomes engaged to Tony, the son of the president of her company. When Tony brings his family to meet Alice’s, the families’ different values, expectations, and priorities become uncomfortably apparent. When , federal agents storm the house suspecting one family member of printing communist propaganda.
Family is central to the play, Wittman said. “Family in all of its extended ways—friends, family, and those people who are really a part of your life. We love them and appreciate them and their passions and the many different paths that they go down,” he said.
With 16 speaking parts, “You Can’t Take it With You” also appealed to Wittman for the experience it offers to LC actors. In addition to a cast of students, the show stars Bill Bodine ’78, ’89 MAd as Martin Vanderhof, the witty and loving grandfather.
The show will benefit from improved technical equipment, including new lighting and sound control boards, as well as costumes designed and created by LC costume designer Savannah Ketchum and students. Some of the props were created with a 3D printer recently purchased by the theatre department.
Wittman said he hopes the audience will enjoy the play and come away thinking about what is important in their lives. “It’s a fun, sentimental and loving play. It reminds us that we shouldn’t take life too seriously,” he said. “There are times when humor and fun and enjoyment and leisure should be accepted and encouraged.
“And there’s a romantic love story thrown in.”