Review: ‘You Can't Take It With You' on stage at Highlands

Ballet lessons from a crazy Russian, colorful explosions, risqué playwriting, visits from the Grand Duchess of Russia and accidental terroristic hidden messages in candy wrappers: sounds like a normal day in the Sycamore home.

‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is an ensemble-based play in which a happy, quirky, diverse family challenges the traditional ideas of what a “good life” looks like. Often credited with being the template for modern day situational comedy, the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart chronicles a romance between members of two extremely different families, addressing what it really means to live and love. Highlands High School showed itself off in this riotously funny and equally significant show.

Kay Vermeil and Ben Justice believably portrayed Alice and Tony, the plot-inducing lovebirds. Nick Mohr played Grandpa, an immediately and obviously important force within this production. His dominance and confident comedy were memorable. The warm and loveable Penelope Sycamore, played by Olivia Ulmer, was incredibly natural and consistent.

‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is undoubtedly a comedy among comedies, and the cast of Highlands’ production did not lack humor.  Most notable for their committed, interesting comedic performances were Harrison Swayne as Ed and Lindsey Franxman as Mrs. Kirby. The comedic moments in the show were by far the most successful. The cast’s exceptional moments took place in a house filled with misfits in unfortunate situations. In each of these scenes not a single cast member missed a beat. The physically comedic moments were effortless and the verbal comedy was richly real. 

Certain technical elements were markedly impressive. The lighting, operated by Joey Kempe, created the subtlety impelling effect that every play should strive to have. The props crew was large to accommodate the complicated and numerous props used. The production also included pyrotechnics and used a live cat – challenges Highlands faced with enthusiasm.

Strung together moments of sidesplitting humor and eccentrically sincere life produced a memorable, hysterical and loveable presentation of admirable high school theater at Highlands High School.

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