Despite the huge setback of losing a cast member at the last moment, Olympic Theatre Arts will present “You Can’t Take It With You” as scheduled.
The play, written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and directed this time by Olivia Shea, first opened at the Booth Theater in 1936 and ran for 837 performances. The three-part comedy won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and later was adapted for movies and a sitcom.
Centered on the Sycamore family in Brooklyn during the late 1930s, “You Can’t Take It With You” explores the difficulties of merging two very different families. The Sycamores, a happy bunch of people, live life by their grandfather’s motto that people should do what they really love. The conservative Kirbys, however, abide by a different set of rules.
When Alice Sycamore falls in love with her boss, Tom Kirby, the two families join each other at the Sycamores’ for dinner.
“That’s when all the fun begins,” Shea said.
Shea directed “You Can’t Take It With You” 22 years ago at Olympic Theatre Arts. When given the opportunity to direct the play again, she accepted enthusiastically.
“The characters are so fabulous and I agree with the Sycamores’ philosophy,” she said. “Too many people are working at jobs they don’t like when you should be passionate about what you do.”
Just days before opening night, one of the 19 cast members pulled out of the play. Instead of postponing the show and recasting for the part of Penny Sycamore, Shea decided to act in the play as well as direct it.
“It’s a bouncy, fast-paced play and I think the audience will really enjoy it,” Shea said. “It’s a great opportunity for actors to have fun and the audience to laugh. It’s a large cast and while some people have a lot of experience others are just starting out.”
Aaron Elkins — a Sequim resident and American mystery writer well-known for his series of novels featuring forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the “skeleton detective” — is playing the part of Martin Vanderhof.
Elkins’ experiences in theater have paralleled the stages in his life. This is the third play in which he’s performed. The first was in college when he played the role of a son. The second was about 15 years ago and he played the role of a father. This time, he stars as a grandfather.
“I wanted something that would have some discipline and effort to stimulate my creativity,” he said. “This is a really funny show. We’ve been though it like 30 times and we still find ourselves laughing.”
More than just a good time, Shea said, she hopes audiences take home a valuable lesson from the comedy.
“If you follow your passion you will be a happy person,” she said. “If you just relax and do what you love, the rest will fall into place.”