This review was written by Paul Bruce.
The Players Guild of Dearborn opened its 2019-2020 season tonight with the classic comedy, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU. Producers Alexis Bartrum and Kris Wright together with director Debbie Pletzer and assistant director Kenyada Davis have knocked it out of the park with this delightful romp through 1936 featuring the antics of a highly extended family that really puts the fun in dysFUNctional.
The brilliant set, designed by Ms. Pletzer and her assistant David Wood, is populated by a cast of eighteen performers who have clearly done their homework with respect to character development and comedic line delivery. Each of the talented troop has moments of brilliance to share with the lucky audiences who attend one of the remaining performances.
Leading out the cast are Nick Szczerba, Julie Ballantyne Brown and Tom Downey as Martin Vanderhof, Penelope Sycamore and Paul Sycamore respectively. This tight family trio compose the upper generations of a family mired in the struggle to live life gently and kindly with joy in their hearts. Each of these performers is nothing short of brilliant and their portrayals are both spot on and fully captivating. Rebekah Preiss, Kaitlyn Cross and Jacob Burke play the younger generation of the family as Alice Sycamore, Essie Carmichael and Essie’s husband Ed Carmichael. All three are beautifully cast and flush out the show’s pathos and comic relief wonderfully. Alice’s love interest, Tony, and his parents Anthony and Miriam Kirby are played by DJ Schneider, William E. McCloskey and Linda Mosley. This third family trio is every bit as well wrought as the first two, but slightly more polished as far as the world of social class is concerned, leading to very interesting developments in the plot as the two different worlds collide with hilarious results. Other stand out roles include Mr. DePinna played by David Wood, Boris Kolenkhov played by Matt Van Houten, Gay Wellington played by Patricia LaFramboise and The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina played by Sebastian Zackery Adams. These four steal the show at various points. Look for Mr. Woods in his “modeling costume”, Mr. Van Houten and his boisterous portrayal of a displaced Russian Ballet instructor, Ms. Laframboise as an overly imbibed actress and S. Adams in a scene stealing costume for ex-Russian royalty that is worth the price of a ticket alone! Rounding out the cast are Kristen Campbell as Rheba, Josh Beurer as Donald, Daniel Bartrum as Wilbur C. Henderson and Connor Nicholl and Adam Lynch as Man One and Man Two respectively. All do a marvelous job, augmenting the story nicely.
In a quick nod to the show’s technical requirements, Chris Boudreau and Stan Guarnelo do a masterful job with the lighting and sound designs while the show’s hair and make-up are attractively wrought under the direction of Julie Ballantyne Brown, Sebastian Zackery Adams, Kristen Campbell and Pat LaFramboise.
This charming, energetic and beautifully wrought show will play for the rest of this weekend and the two that follow. Do yourself a favor and purchase a ticket for this show. The standing ovation delivered by tonight’s audience is indeed a true measure of the quality of this marvelous, local production.
Broadway is in your backyard, and it’s reasonably priced! What are you waiting for?
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