|The Concord Journal, Feb 12, 1976|
|By Priscilla Korell|
Well, Sir, here we are again.
You wouldn’t believe what I’ve just seen this weekend here in Concord at 51 Walden Street! You just wouldn’t! The weirdest group of people are there ... all in one place ... and I mean weird! And that house! Enough to make “House Beautiful” flip its eclectic accessories!
Now, some of them you’ve seen before ... on stage, I mean. That’s right, as members of The Concord Players. Some of the old timers Terry Nib, Bill Travers, Pat Butcher, Chris Davies, Belle McDonald, Betsy Connelly. Come to think of it, it must have seemed like a homecoming to them.
Well, now that I say it, that’s exactly what it was, a homecoming! (If that’s the kind of home you want to come home to! Ha! Well, Sir, You know what I mean.)
Now, then, this was Friday night ... opening night ... and The Players decided that February’s doldrums would be swished aside by Kaufman and Hart’s ‘You Can’t Take It With You.” An old chestnut, you might say, Sir with bits about the Great Depression and Wall Street ... and, oh, yes, True Love. Mustn’t forget the gist of the plot, True Love, good steady stuff, Boy Gets Girl, but not until his parents raise the roof and get arrested. Well, Sir, I don’t need to tell You what happened and anyone else who wants to know can find out February 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21.
Well, Sir, I just don’t know where to begin! Guess it just has to be in describing those strange people ... well, they don’t seem so strange to each other, I guess, but then, they’re family.
First of all, there is Pat Butcher. She plays the mother, Penelope Sycamore. Now, Sir, we all know Pat Butcher; that is, I thought we all knew her! Except this time she doesn’t look like herself. It was the voice that gave her away. There she sat at the opening of the first act, at her typewriter (delivered by mistake!), writing plays, but with blue ankle socks on! Sir, You know, best of any of us, that in this day, nobody wears blue ankle socks!
The Wardrobe mistress (Linda Bracco), what a job she did on Pat (and on the others, too!) When Pat switched from playwriting to portrait painting, the outfit matched the mood, one might say. You bet it did, Sir!
Then Bill Travers, that was her husband, Paul Sycamore, he and his friend Mr. DePinna (Ray Van Vorse) live to get a bang out of life. For- give me, Sir, I couldn’t resist! Bang, you know, like a charge? Ha! They were something! (Someone with less feeling than I might say “something else”!) They were matched perfec- tion. Wait ‘til you see Van Vorse in that discus throwing outfit! The best cover-up since Watergate! Oh, forgive me, Sir. I forgot You were in the balcony!
Now, then, Terry Nilo he was Grandpa Vanderhot. One has to say he was a levelling influence on everyone. But what else would you expect? He’s been a steady7, consistent actor for years! This must have been a Welcome Home for him, to be on stage at 51 Walden again.
Grandpa has to be given credit for Alice (Carol Bennett) getting her youngman, Tohy Kirby (Raymond Biggar.) After all, he got to say the title line ... something about money not being enough to keep you happy and even with all the money in the world, you can’t take it with you. Usually, the fellow who mouths that top line is pretty important stuff.
Well, Sir, you saw Alice and Tony. Carol Bennett was pretty spunky on stage, quiet, but got things done, kept things moving (and a good looker!) Biggar seemed a little awkward, mot than the script called for, I mean. One didn quite “feel for him,” especially in the third act.
Essie (Norma Elfner) was one of those earlier called Weird. Capital W, Sir! She real] pulled it off! What wiqi the clumsy dancing ar foolish expression! Would it be a compliment I say, ‘you have to be born with those a complishments?”
Now, Ed (Robert Berger) was Essie husband. He’s the one who tapped the tinkles played the xylophone, Sir. Ed was just kind “there” and somehow he seemed to fit wit Essie. And together they seemed to distract everybody else ... and the audience ... and probably that’s what they were. supposed to do!
Normally, Sir, that would be the end of Ut casting credits. But not in “You Can’t Take With You.” We haven’t begun to tap the talent of those oldies but goodies among The Concord Players (and some recent entries) who cajole the minor roles into capital performances.
Was it You, Sir, who said, “leave ‘em rollin in the aisles?” Now that I think of it, You probably’s didn’t. Well, Sir, You should have That second act took the cake! Leave ‘em rol. ing ... that opening night audience couldn’t eve leave their seats for a full three minutes afte the lights went on. They just sat there and laugt ed and laughed ... and laughed. And don’t forget they began the act laughing!
That was because Gay Wellington (Suzann Manzi) zonked them off right at the beeinnini with the most raucous guffaws imaginable. Wh could stop themself? In Your language, Sir. the rejoicing was respendent!
Then there was Boris Kolenkhov (Chris Davies) and Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (Irving McDowell and Belle McDonald) and Olga (Betsy Connelly.) You see what I mean, Sir? You’ve seen all of them before, Sir, so You know they’re top notch and can carry a scene single. handed. That’s what I mean by a homecoming.
That only leaves six other roles in the whole performance: Steve Wasserman as the internal revenue agent, Henderson; Bob Peters, Bill Siebert and Tom Ruggles as the G Men who burst in and arrested the lot (lucky you, looking down on that scene every night, Sir!); and Nancy Halpin as the maid, Rita, and Chuck Ainsworth as her “friend.” Now, Nancy and Chuck were character roles, not spots like the others mentioned here, and they added to the confusion and scramble.
Well, Sir, here we are again. Not much more needs to be said about The Concord Players se- cond production of their 56th season. Except that the whole thing was put together by a new director, Bob Bridges, who first came upon the scene with “Concord Conscience.” If I could make a suggestion, Sir, I’d say Bridges was worth holding on to.
The final thought has to be on that crazy. crazy set. Maybe I’m wrong, Sir, using words like weird and crazy about “You Can’t Take It With You.’ Am I wrong, Sir? How would You describe it ... cluttered Victorian? ... mid- century Mistake? curio-Collective? The design and construction crew must have doodled in delight before putting it all together.
Now maybe You can have the last word, Sir If anyone besides myself talks to You anymore dint You are inclined to reply, will You tell them that The Concord Players will have this zany production of “You Can’t Take It With You” on stage for two more weekends? The message is “be happy in your own sort of way.” As Grandpa said, it’s not the world that’s askew, it’s the people in it, You tell ‘em, Sir: these peo- ple have got it all!
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