‘You Can’t Take
it with You’
• The Hazen Players of Hazen High School will present “You Can’t Take it With You” Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students with ASB, $7 for adults and students without ASB.
• The Hazen Players will perform student-directed Western melodramas May 9 and 10, at 7 p.m. with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on May 10.
The Hazen Players’ spring play was written in 1930, but Hazen senior Colleen Johns says the Pulitzer-Prize winner “You Can’t Take it With You” is still accessible today.
“There are a couple lines people might not get, pop-culture references,” she says.
But Johns says the play is also about timeless issues. “People dealing with taxes and IRS fraud,” she says. “It’s one of those plays that makes sense in any era. You always have to deal with family.”
“You Can’t Take it With You” was written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. Johns plays the playwright Penny Vanderhof Sycamore, the mother of Alice Sycamore, the woman romantic lead.
“You Can’t Take it With You” is about two New York City families: the eccentric Sycamores and the prim Kirbys. The two families are introduced when Tony Kirby and Alice Sycamore fall in love and become engaged.
Tension mounts when Tony Kirby invites his parents to dinner at the Sycamores — on the wrong night.
Several undercurrents flow through the main plot, involving the the manufacture of fireworks, the tax-evading Grandpa Vanderhof, the orchid-raising Mr. Kirby, the amateur printer Ed Carmichael and the candy-making and wannabe ballerina Essie Sycamore and her Russian ballet teacher Boris Kolenkhov.
“It’s a really funny play,” Johns says. “Every time I read it I’m cracking up.”
Hazen Players Director Brett Crueger chose the play, with student input.
Crueger wanted a comedy, especially after the Hazen Player’s fall production of the dark “Our Town.”
Crueger agrees with Johns that “You Can’t Take it With You” is an enduring comedy.
“It would have appealed to a 1930s audience, but it’s got a lot of timeless humor,” he says. “It would have been considered risque then, and even some kids were shocked now.”
The Hazen Players started a rehearsal last week with Act II, which begins with an actress guest passed out drunk on the couch and ends with both the Sycamores and Kirbys arrested for allegedly manufacturing fireworks.
The cast is 19 students, much smaller than many Hazen Players’ productions. Fifty students tried out. Many students who didn’t make the cut will act in student-directed Western melodramas May 9 and 10.
Students are building the set for “You Can’t Take it With You,” under the direction of a former Hazen theater student. Students also selected the plays’ costumes.
The set and costumes weren’t complete during last week’s rehearsal, and a couple lines were forgotten, but Crueger said the production was shaping up just fine.
“It’s kind of where it usually is at this point,” he said. “I’m really happy with it. I’m not stressed out.”
The cast is made up of both veteran and newer Hazen Players.
Senior Daniel Webber is one of the veterans. “You Can’t Take it With You” is his eighth and final Hazen play, which makes him part of every major production since he started school at Hazen.
But much of his roles have been smaller parts or backstage tech support. He’s playing his first lead in “You Can’t Take it With You.” Webber plays Grandpa Vanderhof.
“It’s a pretty good play,” he says of “You Can’t Take it With You.” “It’s funnier than a lot of plays we’ve done.”