Happy audiences applauded and laughed hysterically this past weekend at the Little Theater. They were enjoying the antics of the hilarious Sycamore family as portrayed by actors of FJC Drama Department. Saturday's sell out audience included Dr.Sheller and many-members of the FJC faculty. Comments from that group were very favorable.
The play in an over-all sense, was quite good, quite professional in quality. Technical work was excellent.. Sound and lighting were very good. Special credit should go to Chuck Kading for the excellence of the set design and to Trina Portillo and Sandy Mann for the excellent costumes. Special mention must be made of those individuals who braved spiders and bargain hunters to resurrect some of the props used in the play from dark comers and rummage sales.
Stricken with InexperlenDespite the cast being stricken with laryngitis and inexperience the directors put together a well rounded production. It was hard for some member:s of the cast to fit into their roles, this being due to a lack of experience in comedy. A funny play is hard to keep funny, especially if most of our experience is in dramatic roles.
This was one of the main problems in the production of '"You Can't Take It With You", as most of the characters were funny and many of the east had played only straight dramatic roles. This did not seem to hamper them very much, as the performances were generally excellent.
Jo Ann Wheatly, as Penny Sycamore, can only be called outstanding. Carrying one of the most important roles called for a lot of work on her part, she obviously did work at it. It was a quality performance maintained at a high level throughout the show. Her vocal and physical expression was quite good, no matter what the mood of the play at that moment.
Robert Hoffman was excellent as Paul Sycamore. As a happy inventor and family man, or as the unhappy husband and father waiting for his daughter to leave home, he was very good. When Paul and Penny review · their marriage in the third act, we see one of the better moments of the play.
Charles Fisher was excellent as Martin Vanderhof (Grampa). He maintained a high level of performance and, at times, seems reminiscent of Lionel Barrymore in the movie version of the play. The Russian ballet instructor, Boris Kolenkhov, as played by Ron Valencia, is one of the show's funniest characters.
Ron keeps the character quite Russian and quite funny, his mannerisms occasionally remind one of Jack .. Carson. One high moment in the show is a discussion by Boris and Grandpa of the state of the world.
Essie and Ed, played by Connie Swanson and Bernard Whittington, were very good. They made one of the funniest married couples we've seen, his playing the xylophone for her dancing is a riot. Rheba, played by Sandy Klein, and Donald, played by John Walkowicz, can be described as absolutely hilarious. The audience loved them. They just roared with laughter at their antics.
Both gave good cause for a broken rib or two in the audience, from laughing at them, Miss Klein really topped her excellent children's Play performance in this show. Donald and Rheba are colored people, and John and Sandy did a beautiful job of avoiding any stereotyped portrayal of this.
Mike Renard was featured as Mr. De Pinna. He was very good, indeed he has improved greatly over his last role in the Children's Play. His projection and comic sense were first rate. Also featured was Larry Ward, as a neurotic Internal Revenue man, the Sycamore house-hold really drives him nuts.
Other excellent portrayals were; Sue Geach, as Gay Wellington, a gin-soaked actress; Robert Hubbert and Grace Johnson, as the stiff and dignified Mr. and Mrs. Kirby; and Rosalie Abrams, who was tremendous as the Grand Duchess Olga. Terry Lamb, Les Graselli, and Jim Endicott appeared as members of the FBI.
A simple plot, without formidable cliches, and genuinely good portrayals, by competent actors, make "You Cant Take It With You" and excellent evening of entertainment. The FJC Drama departments is continuing to present this show through this weekend at the Little Theatre.