Donald Beck, director of Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House’s production of “You Can’t Take it With You,” has a theory as to why the eight decades-old comedy resonates with today’s audiences.
“It speaks to a lot of people because we all want to live our dreams and have our bliss and be happy and have a loving family,” he said. “It’s the message of ‘live your dreams,’ and ‘family is important’ and ‘take care of one another.’”
Continuing through Oct. 1, “Take” is the tale of the well-to-do Kirbys and the modest Vanderhofs, two families at odds with each other over a piece of land owned by the latter’s patriarch and wanted by the head of the former. Adding to this conflict is a budding relationship between son Tony Kirby and granddaughter Alice Sycamore.
Penned by iconic American playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, “Take” debuted on Broadway in 1936. The play ran for more than 800 performances and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama a year later.
In 1938, “Take” made its way to the big screen, starring Lionel Barrymore and James Stewart and was directed by Frank Capra. The film took home the Best Picture Academy Award and Capra took home an Oscar for Best Director.
“It’s a great American classic,” Beck said. “It’s witty. It’s funny. It’s character driven. It’s got all of the things that I love in plays.”
Dave Pera is the senior Kirby and Earle Howe is Martin Vanderhof in Memorial Opera House’s production of the play with Bill Carns as Tony and Laura Carns as Alice. Additionally, Barbara Baker Malangoni plays Mrs. Kirby and Kali Rasala portrays Alice’s mother, Penny Sycamore.
“We’ve got a fantastic cast that get along well together,” Beck said. “They work hard and things are coming along very well.”
Next up for Memorial Opera House is a production of the holiday favorite “A Christmas Story,” scheduled to open Nov. 24.