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Brighton Performing Arts Centre presents: You Can't Take It With You: Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
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You Can't Take it With You: Review
Photo courtesy of Brighton Theatre

In 1936, long before we had the Brady Bunch, the Simpsons, Beverley Hill Billies and the Adams Family, the first American dysfunctional family, the Vanderhots appeared on Broadway in George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's You Can't Take It With You. The play ran for 837 performances and in 1937 it won Pulitzer prize for drama. In 1938 it won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for Frank Capra's movie adaptation and won the hearts of audiences with the screwball behaviour of this zany family as they went about surviving the Depression.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
Frank Capra's "You Can't Take It With You - Winner of 2 Academy Awards."

I was invited to attend the staging of "You Can't Take It With You " by the year 12 Drama students at Brighton High School in their state-of-the-art Brighton Performing Arts Centre. Even with the school's wonderful achievements of six Rock Eisteddfod wins at state level, and a national title and world wide recognition awards of excellence in 2011, I was somewhat skeptical as to how this period play of the 1930's would be received in Adelaide by a student theatre group and a contemporary audience.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
The entire cast of 'You Can't Take It With You.'

I thought the bizarre antics being the manufacturing of fireworks in the basement of the family home might be too tame and dated for today's young audience. Especially with so many action movies with over-the-top humour and super stunts created with the aid of computer graphics, I expected this 80 year old play would be far too corny and tame.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
A lively show about a zany family

How wrong can one person be if the audiences responses are anything to gauge a performance by! Even though the show's humour relies a great deal on the portrayal of its characters' eccentric behaviours, they are still very entertaining and at the same time believable. Its a simple plot with lots of energy and a sense of fun displayed by the enthusiastic and spirited young cast thanks to Director Kristen McDonnell. The funny bits brought lots of laughter from an audience of various ages, who clearly enjoyed the performances.

The romantic chemistry between Tony Kirby (Luke Saunders) and Alice Sycamore (Sabina Fisher) was charming and credible as the romantic couple struggling with the extreme differences between their families and the issues that arise from their different life values and lifestyle.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
Alice Sycamore (Sabina Fisher) and Tony Kirby (Luke Saunders) the believable romantic young couple.

The cast portray some extremely zany characters and provide many highlights, such as Grandpa Vanderhaf (Lucas Binns) a crafty, warm hearted old man who dropped out of Wall Street years ago with his philosophy "Life's pretty simple if you relax", a simple Mrs Kirby (Ella James) who writes plays on a typewriter which, was delivered by mistake eight years ago. She continually provides humour as she struggles with managing her characters in her play, the lively Mr Kolenkhof (Jamie Pottenger) the dancing tutor and his wisecracks about life in Russia, the comical antics of Mr De Pinna (Bec Whetham) and her laugh-provoking wig, along with the intoxicated Miss Wellington (Serena Park) who attracted lots of laughs from the audience.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
Plenty of fun and fireworks from Paul Sycamore (Arran Beattie) and Mr De Pinna (Bec Whetham)

There were also moments where the play's themes of family, relationships, non-conformity showed some issues of the 1930's were just as relevant today.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
Some great comic timing from Mr Kolenkhof (Jamie Pottinger), Mr Kirby (Lachlan Tyler-Dowd) and Miss Wellington (Serena Park)

It was evident not every Drama and Music student has to walk the boards to be an essential part of a play being a success. The other important supporting roles involving set design (Kristen McDonnell) and production, costume design, lighting (Henry Gullitus), sound (Marcus Falkch) and publicity (Skye Footner) all did their vital part in assuring the play was a success.

A lot of effort obviously went into the set design and the inclusion of various pieces from the 1930's to create an authentic atmosphere of the era.

The exquisite dresses and genuine costumes were either collected by Costume Designer, Lucinda Cawrse through her relentless scouting around 'op-shops' or when necessary her pains-taking dedication to tailoring garments to suit an individual character's needs.

This production of [I]You Can't Take It With You /I] was entertaining, funny, spirited and was relevant for audiences even though it premiered almost 80 years ago.

You Can't Take It With You: Review
Grandpa Vanderhaf (Lucas Binns), Mr Kirby (Lachlan Tyler- Dowd) and Tony Kirby (Luke Saunders)
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Why? Fine performances balancing comedy and serious consideration from talented young cast.
When: 7.30 pm. 17th - 19th September 2014
Phone: 0434 602 051
Where: Brighton Performing Arts Centre, Brighton High School, 305 Brighton Road, Brighton
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