You Can’t Take It With You
LYNDEN — A sweet-natured young lady falls for banker’s son. However, her eccentric family just might be too much for her beau’s straightlaced folks.
In a nutshell, that’s the story of ‘You Can’t Take It With You,’ The Claire Theater’s latest production.
‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is what Ken Dalena called a “rollicking farcical comedy.”
The play’s director, Dalena said ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ will be staged and performed “in the manner of zany old vaudeville.” “Written in the 1930s during the height of the Great Depression, the playwrights aimed to heighten the mood and warm the hearts of the audience,” Dalena said. “We hope to do the same for Lynden.”
The Claire Theater, 655 Front St., Lynden, invites you to come out to see the Lynden Performing Arts Guild’s latest production: ‘You Can’t Take it With You.’ This show is rated PG.
Evening showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9-11, Feb. 16-18 and Feb. 23-25. Matinees showtimes are 2 p.m. Feb. 12, Feb. 19 and Feb. 26. Tickets are available at TheClaire.org, or call (360) 354-4425.
Cost is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (62 and older) and students (ages 10-22), $11 for children ages 4-9.
Th cast of You Can’t Take It With You includes: Sue Dodson (as Penny Sycamore), Monica Rhodes (Essie Sycamore), Gillian Dodson (Rheba), Cliff Thies (Paul Sycamore), Schad Russell (Mr. De Pinna), Robert Muzzy (grandpa), Anica Johnston (Alice Sycamore), Kellyann Walbeck (Ms. Henderson/Jman 1), Andrew Cooper (Mr. Kirby), Kelly Cooper (Mrs. Kirby), Joseph Silverbears (Boris Kolenkhov), Laura Nelson (Gay Wellington), Darla Bradshaw Lobb (Olga Katrina), Skyler Jones (Tony Kirby), Isaiah Assink (Ed), Roger Roosma (Donald), Cody Wallace (Jman2) and Sarah Williams (Essie understudy/Jman3). David Bolden is assistant director.
Amuse and delight the audience
An experienced actor on stage, cinema and television, Dalena is directing his first play. Recently, Dalena said he sees himself more as a coach than as a director.
“The actors are the athletes in the arena,” Dalena said. “My job is to give them a game plan, hone their skills and develop their talent. Your applause is our score board.”
According to Dalena, The Claire’s team of actors scores points “when we amuse and delight the audience.”
This Pulitzer Prize winning play originally premiered on Broadway in 1936. Two years later, Jean Arthur and James Stewart played the sweet-natured young lady and the banker’s son. The film won Best Picture at the Oscars.
In this version of ‘You Can’t Take It With You,’ put on by the Lynden Performing Arts Guild, Anica Johnston and Skyler Jones will play the two lead characters, Alice Sycamore and Tony Kirby.
Currently pursuing her associate degree at Whatcom Community College, Johnston appeared in a Sehome High School production in 2018 and a University of Montana production in 2020.
For Jones, this is his first performance in a few years, as he was on a hiatus. According to his cast bio, Jones “had a lot of fun under coach Ken’s directorial style” and he has “welcomed a more technically-minded approach to performing.”
Drama, comedy need each other
According to Dalena, the playwrights, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart are “well-known as geniuses of the genre and collaborated on a series of heart-warming dramas with endearing characters.”
“Exactly what the public clamored for in the midst of the Great Depression, and perhaps what we all need now in the midst of the pandemic and other trials our nation faces at the moment,” Dalena said. “Drama needs comedy and, certainly, comedy needs drama.”
Dalena explained that the comedy ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ in fact has drama, which is provided by the conflict between the Vanderhof family and the Kirby family.
“The first is a free-living devil-may-care mélange of nutty characters living on the edge,” Dalena said. “The second is well-to-do, highbrow and socially conscious. Fireworks, literally, go off when the two collide.”
Originally slated to play Mrs. Kirby, Amy Erickson tested positive for COVID-19 and elected to be replaced, Dalena said. Kelly Cooper, wife of Andrew Cooper (Mr. Kirby) will play Mrs. Kirby. Dalena said that although Kelly Cooper has not been on stage since high school “she is very sharp.”
“She is picking up the acting skills very quickly and she is enthused about the role,” Dalena said. “We will portray her as Cruella de Ville.”
Dalena also noted that the Coopers’ 13-year-old daughter Zoey has been coming to rehearsals and reading for absent actors.
“She is very talented, and the Coopers are enjoying a family theater experience,” Dalena said.
A law enforcement officer at the border, Andrew Cooper is performing on stage for only his second time.
“I honestly started all this on a fluke,” Andrew Cooper said. “I was persuading my daughter to try out for ‘Elf the Musical’ and made a promise that if she tried out I would as well, and it lead to me being cast as Mr. Greenway, and my passion for playing villains was ignited.”
Cooper said he loves smiling and laughing, “so playing characters that don’t embody those things really feels like acting to me.”
“It’s an amazing show, in my opinion it’s that late-‘80s, early-‘90s comedy sitcom feel full of laughter,” Andrew Cooper said. “It all takes place in the living room of a rather eclectic and rambunctious family. It’s a modern 1930s Romeo and Juliet.”
Cooper also said that the cast is “packed with talent from 40-plus year veterans of the stage” and with the addition of inexperienced actors such as himself “everyone’s heart is in giving the best performance we can”
Skyler Jones grew up overseas as the son of a Wycliffe missionary in the Solomon Islands. In sixth grade, Jones first became involved with theater when his family relocated to Ferndale. Since then, Jones became involved with Missoula Children’s Theater, school plays, then community theater. Jones also performed in Blaine Community Theater’s adaptation of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ (as Mr. Hyde), and as Quasimodo in the Bellingham Dance Company’s rendition of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame.’
Involved with theater since age 7, Monica Rhodes plays Alice Sycamore’s sister Essie. Dalena explained that Rhodes has performed in “countless productions and most recently as Deb from the Claire’s previous show ‘Elf the Musical’ and has found a love and passion for acting, singing and dancing.”
Outside of creative arts and linguistics, Joseph Silverbears is a computer programmer by trade with specific skills in AI engineering. He also is keen on learning languages.
“I have studied the intricacies of various languages,” Silverbears said. “But I have only dedicated myself to going in depth with Swedish.”
Making his theater debut as an adult, Silverbears has played baby Jesus and was in a choreographed dance to the tune of Stayin’ Alive as a youth. From there, Joseph has had no formal training in theater arts but he said that has not kept him from creative pursuits. He is now ready to take a leap into theater arts as Boris Kolenkhov and “is very excited to be working with the wonderful cast and crew of the Claire Theater.”
Audition for Disney’s ‘My Son Pinocchio’ at 6 p.m. Feb. 13-14 at The Claire Theater. Call backs are Feb. 15.
The Claire Theater staff asks that actors auditioning for the musical should plan to come prepared to perform less than one minute of a song. Directors prefer no sheet music or reading lyrics on phones.
Also, actors are expected to download, print and bring completed audition form to theater. Anyone who needs to fill out the form at the theater should. plan to arrive early.
The Claire Theater will present ‘My Son Pinocchio’ April 20 through May 7. For more, visit theclaire.org.