Dig Baton Rouge

When Families Collide

By Tara Bennett

Sparks will fly as Theatre of Baton Rouge welcomes you into the home of a not-so-average 1930s New York family in its production of one of American theater’s greatest comedies, “You Can’t Take It With You,” running from Friday, May 2 to Sunday, May 18, which will close out Theatre of Baton Rouge’s 2013-2014 season.

“It’s a really nice, fun show and it’s a good comedy to do in the spring,” said director Keith Dixon. “And it’s a classic, so people have heard of it and it’s something that has withstood the test of time.”

Times were tough when George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart co-wrote “You Can’t Take It With You” in 1936 during the height of the Great Depression. The duo was determined to make a play to remind audiences that happiness comes in many forms and to drive home the point that personal happiness is always an attainable goal when you do as you like.

These sentiments are as relevant now as they were during the Great Depression, and according to Dixon, audiences will identify with these moments in the show.

“Even though the show is set in the 1930s there are things that we would laugh at today,” said Dixon. “So there are some things that still resonate with people today.”

The play centers on the conflicts when two very different New York families meet for the first time. The uptight Kirbys are invited to dinner at the zany, free-spirited Sycamore house, when secretary Alice Sycamore falls in love with Tony Kirby, who just happens to be her boss’s son.

“It’s a very eclectic family situation and the Sycamores do the things that make them happy, which is not always the norm,” said Dixon. “It’s fun for the audience to see and it’s fun to portray. It’s a good show.”

The Sycamore family is indeed a lively bunch, who are the source of much of the comedy throughout the show, due to their eccentric behaviors, such as the patriarch of the family who doesn’t follow just any old rule, including paying his taxes.

“We can identify with any of these people or we know people like them,” said Dixon. “Even the quirky ones in the family who do the most unusual things, we all have family members like that or we are those family members. It’s a situation where Alice is bringing home her fiancée to meet her family, and he comes from a very different world, a much more straight-laced, rigid family, and it’s a comedy that ensues when two worlds collide.”

There are some great plays that are pulled out every 15 to 20 years that people like to see, and this Pulitzer-Prize winning comedy is one of them, having seen several Broadway revivals and films made. According to Dixon, his production is staying true to the original show.

“You don’t change what this show is a whole lot,” said Dixon. “I’m going to stick to the truth of the show. I think what this family shows is that life is fun and exciting and you should do the things you want to do because you have only this one life, and instead of being all serious about it, it’s done in a humorous fashion.”

According to Dixon, the actors in “You Can’t Take It with You” have really come to identify their characters, and are committed to finding their moments to bring forth the comedy of the show. Cast members include: Nancy Litton, Michele Taylor, Paris Jackson, Lee Allen, Kevin Brooks, Jake Robertson, Roger Ferrier, Dr. Terry Byars, Natalie Sibille, Michael Sager, Ben Skinner, Brigette Burhoe, Robert Gautreau, Tara Sager, Jeremy Downey, Zachary Ocmand, Neill Terry, Anthony Pierre, Jr. and Mattie Olson.

“They have sunk their teeth into it and are not afraid to take chances and do things with it that make it come alive on stage.”

Tickets are $25 for regular admission, $21 for season subscribers, $22 for group rates and $15 for students. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For more information call the Box Office at 225-924-6496.

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