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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 9, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 10
Sound Theatre presents You Can't Take It With You
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Sound Theatre presents You Can't Take It With You

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU
SOUND THEATRE COMPANY
Through March 11


George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart wrote a play in 1936 that at the time was a challenge to the status quo and even considered politically challenging. The message of You Can't Take It With You was to enjoy today and stop treading on the dreary treadmill of corporate jobs and a life full of 'shoulds.' It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (though it's a comedy).

Now produced in every high school, and many folks' 'gateway drug' into acting, there is little new about its content or message. To make it work, the production has to be shined up in comic timing to a blinding sheen. It can't be taken literally, since everything in it was written farcically.

Sound Theatre Company has chosen it as the lead off to its new season showcasing their focus on racial inclusion, and more, by casting people of color and including an actor in a wheelchair. There are some great choices, especially casting Teotha ('Tee') Dennard as Grampa.

Choosing Shermona Mitchell as the mother figure, Penny, however, either immediately tilts the production into 'wtf' territory - she's way too young to mother all these grown children - or makes you understand you are not to take any character that literally ... Mitchell, being a talented actor, commits thoroughly enough that she brings the play along and becomes one of the strengths. It's still not an easy hurdle.

So, every character is an archetype instead of a real person. In some ways, that fits the play perfectly. Grampa gave up corporate life 35 years ago to be happy, Penny became a playwright 8 years ago because a typewriter was mistakenly delivered to the house, daughter Essie (Bo Mellinger) became a ballet dancer because she was no good at it, Mr. Depinna (Laurie Lynch) arrived five years ago and never left after the milkman-who-stayed-until-he-died and spends his time making fireworks in the basement.

Politics are front and center when an IRS agent tries to collect taxes and Grampa argues with him about why the taxes are necessary. When told things like, 'Taxes pay for the Constitution,' Grampa replies that the Constitution was paid for long ago. In fact, the IRS guy has no good reasons for taxes, according to Grampa, so he says he'll pay $75 just so the guy will go away.

Given that this was opening weekend and sometimes it takes casts some time to settle in, more of the comedy might land later in the run. However, while there are a few good laughs, some of the problem is that some characters want to be in a realistic play, not a farce. Mellinger, for instance, is way too graceful to be a clunky ballerina. The part clearly deserves some completely bad dancing. Chris Shea as a bombastic Russian, Kolenkhov, seems almost out of place when he does the outsized acting the role calls for.

Ayo Tushinde and Corey Spruill and Bob Williams and Laura Steele do fine work as 'regular' people. Alice (Tushinde) is the 'normal' family member who falls in love with a 'normal' young executive (Spruill) and fears his 'normal' rich parents (Williams and Steele) will be horrified by her eccentric family. But the rest of the cast portraying her eccentric family are too 'normal' to horrify& That's a bit sad.

The tech support is fine, with a handsome homey set by Robin Macartney and colorful costumes by Margaret Toomey. Lights by Ahren Buhmann and sound by D. R. Amromin complemented.

There seemed to be more misses than hits in this show, and unfortunately, the pacing did not meet the need. If everyone amps their deliveries up at least 50% in brightness, your audience experience will improve.

For more information, go to www.soundtheatrecompany.org or call 206-856-5520.

Discuss your opinions with SGNCritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at MiryamsTheaterMusings.blogspot.com.

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