At John Jay High School, final rehearsals are underway for the fall production of “You Can’t Take It With You.” The play, written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, is a comedy in three acts which first appeared on Broadway in 1936 and was adapted for the screen in 1938 with the legendary Frank Capra directing.
John Jay’s production is being directed by William Friedman. John Jay student Mariel Richardson is serving as the stage manager and John Jay student Jackson Roche is working as the assistant stage manager.
Friedman has assembled a dynamic and talented cast, including John Jay seniors Lily Oyen (Penny Sycamore), Isobelle Novack (Mrs. Miriam Kirby), Katie Gebbia (Alice Sycamore), Marty Stuttman (Mr. Anthony Kirby) and Jonah Linz (Boris Kolenkhov).
During a recent rehearsal, members of the cast and crew sat down with the Katonah-Lewisboro Times to discuss the play, their experience and what audience members can expect.
KLT: What have you enjoyed about working on this show?
Oyen: Everyone in the cast gets along really well, and we get to bounce ideas off each other.
Novack: I agree with Lily, the cast is really special, and we all know each other to the point that we are comfortable with each other and can try new things.
Richardson: For the stage crew, we meet every weekend for about 14 hours. Our group has been together since freshman year, and it has been great to have that same group, the same family work together on this show.
Roche: For me, I have really enjoyed working with the set. Typically our sets don’t have two stories like this one, so it is really enjoyable to see stairs and platforms.
Gebbia: The one great thing about this show is there is so much going on that you are never bored, whether you are watching it or involved in it.
Stuttman: Honestly, my favorite part of this show is that I get thrown up into the air at one point, which is really fun. Usually, I do stage crew, so this is my first full show, so it has been very interesting to see the other side of the performances.
Linz: I think my favorite part of this show, specifically, is probably being able to have these really weird wacky moments, where I can go really deep into this character [Boris Kolenkhov] and not worry about anything else, which is not something I get to do in real life.
KLT: What drew you to this show in particular?
Oyen: Since I have done all the shows at the school, I wanted to be a part of it, especially since it is my senior year. However, after reading the audition packet and the role of Penny, I saw how dimensional the character was and how fun she would be to play.
Novack: It had this really interesting concept of absolute chaos all the time. I really wanted to see how this concept would play out with the rest of the cast.
Richardson: I have been signed on to this position [stage manager] for over a year, but once I got to read the script and looked at the tech and the set design, it was just really interesting and wacky, and just really fun.
Roche: This set is much more extravagant, which has been different from other shows.
Gebbia: There is just something about this show, a juxtaposition. Since the show is set in the 1930s, you think everything will be very proper and put together. Then you get to see the inside of this family’s life, which is completely insane and wacky, yet they are so fun. Even though it is a period piece, you can co
Stuttman: I really love how it blends really weird characters and scenarios with very universal human experiences. The play also debates the question of how people should be spending their time.
Linz: I usually go out for the drama every year, and I have had a really good experience every time.
KLT: What should the audience members know about the show, and what should they expect when they come to see it?
Oyen: What is really cool about this show is that it is set in New York, and even though the play takes place in 1930s, you can see little bits of where we live in the actual show.
Novack: I would like audience members to know it is a really fun play, and they should know that it is about being crazy, and while it is the fall drama, nothing is too dramatic. It’s OK to laugh and wonder and appreciate it in all its weirdness.
Richardson: Besides the general theme of how family matters, it is about how you and your family interact, not how people believe you should interact.
Roche: For the audience, I think the biggest difference is where they will be sitting. With this show, they will almost be sitting on the stage and looking at the performance from a different angle. It becomes very immersive.
KLT: So, the audience members are on stage with you?
Richardson: Yes, they [audience members] are in the family, basically! Our director [Mr. Friedman] and technical designers were going for something a lot more personal and a lot more connecting since the major theme of the show is to be connected to others and to fit in somewhere.
Gebbia: [What] I would want the audience to know and take away from the show is the love between the family. I think it is something that is really important and something the audience can relate to and connect with. Especially in regard to the idea of family not just being blood relatives but the family they create, such as Boris. The love is really important.
Stuttman: If there was one thing I could tell an audience member before coming, it is don’t expect a boring show; the second you think that there is a downward moment, some crazy thing happens that you didn’t expect. You aren’t going to fall asleep.
Linz: There are just a lot of good things to take away from this show, the ideas of enjoying your life and doing the things you want to do. I think these are important things for people to hear now and again, and I think we have a really good group of people this year to convey those ideas.
John Jay’s fall production of “You Can’t Take It With You” will run on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7 PM and Saturday, Nov. 23, at 1 and 7 PM. For more information, visit JJHS.KLSCHOOLS.ORG