In the midst of the hustle and bustle around the CSUN theater department during the Nov. 28 rehearsal of “You Can’t Take It With You,” it is easy to see how everything is coming together for the Dec. 1 opening of what has been called America’s favorite comedy.
The cast is working on their timing while the director and stage manager are worrying about the props, costumes, sound, lighting and the set coming together smoothly.
A behind the scenes look at what takes place days before the big opening of a timeless classic proves the dedication and hard work of some very passionate people.
“There is no deadline more unforgiving than opening night,” said guest director Jessica Kubzansky.
The theater department is celebrating 50 years of opening nights on the CSUN campus. As part of an anniversary production, the department is presenting the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “You Can’t Take It With You.”
“You Can’t Take It With You” was a collaboration by playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and has been a hit since 1936. In 1938 Frank Capra’s film version of the play won an Academy Award for best picture.
The formula created by Kaufman and Hart has been adopted by many movies and television series like “Meet The Parents,” “Monster In Law” and many others. Like in those movies the plot of the play is a simple one, with a focus on the stress of meeting the parents of your fianc? or girlfriend/boyfriend, the audience laughs at how the characters differences drive each other crazy and see the characters overcome their differences.
In “You Can’t Take It With You,” young Alice introduces her fianc? and his parents to her eccentric family and chaos ensues. Amid all the madness, the whole household is arrested when the IRS and the Justice Department come looking for Grandpa Martin Vanderhof for refusing to pay his income tax.
“You Can’t Take It With You” relates the humorous encounter between a conservative family and the crazy household of the tax shy grandfather. The play is filled with colorful characters that demand to be remembered.
Kubzansky said the play is “wacky good fun.”
With one-liners like Kubzansky favorite Essie says to Ed, “Play Alice that Beethoven thing you wrote” it is easy to understand what Kubzansky is talking about.
Gay Wellington, a nymphomaniac actress with a reputation for being a bad drunk, is portrayed by Laura Velasquez, who said she is having a good time and that the hardest thing she has encountered with her character is acting drunk when she (Velasquez) is not.
Ashley Evenson plays Mrs. Kirby the mother of Alice’s fianc? Tony. Evenson said that the cast is ready and feels confident enough in the cast that they could open tomorrow night.
Kubzansky said that as opening night approaches the focus is on details, such as making sure that the set and costumes work.
Maro Parian, who works in the costume shop, said the hardest thing the costume design team has encountered is that the body types of people from the 1930s compared to today are different and as a result finding vintage clothing that fits the actors has proven difficult.
For this play, the costumes are either from the theater department’s stock or are rented from places like Universal Studios. The only costume that has been specifically made for “You Can’t Take It With You” is a blue dress that is specifically mentioned in the play, Parian said.
The atmosphere among the cast and crew is one of anticipation, nervousness and excitement so get ready to meet the zany Sycamore household.
“You Can’t Take It With You” will run through Dec. 10, with a total of eight performances in the Campus Theatre at Nordhoff Hall.