Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You Can't Take it With You -- Or Can I?

What an interesting freshman year, to say the least. I served as assistant stage manager for Palmer Park, stage manager for Freshman Showcase, stage manager for Speech & Debate, and then an actor in You Can’t Take it With You. I feel so lucky to have been able to be involved in such a wonderful production. And I didn’t even have to audition to be in it! When one of the assistant stage managers had to drop out, I told the stage manager that I would be more than happy to fill in. Then one of the actors also dropped out, and I was offered a small role in the play. With nothing to fill up my evenings, I jumped at the offer and I am so happy that I did so.

Yes, my role was quite small; I only had two lines. However, I do not regret becoming involved, despite the long nights at the theatre and time spent sitting backstage before my entrance. The cast made both the onstage and backstage experience simply wonderful, and the director made the entire process worthwhile. John Lepard has a great attitude and made the rehearsal process very smooth and positive. Having worked with many directors in my theatrical career thus far, I feel quite lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with John. 

The show itself proves entertaining and enjoyable. With a cast of wonderfully talented actors, there is never a dull moment onstage. From the crazy Ed and Essie to the more “grounded” Tony and Alice, the range of character types and emotions blend delightfully together. All of these actors perform their roles with sincerity and truth, despite the wacky personalities and over-the-top characteristics.

Leslie Hull as Penny delivered all of her lines with perfect comedic timing. Her gestures, facial expressions and overall joyous attitude made some of the less-interesting scenes worth watching. Andrew Harvey as Ed was also hard to look away from. His non-stop fidgeting and eccentric style add to the humor, and when he and Essie get together, the fun doubles. Michelle Meredith as Essie blended brilliantly into the action, without being too outrageous.

The use of the Arena Theatre can prove difficult for many productions, but John Lepard beautifully directed all of the action in a way suitable for all to see and enjoy. In this theatre-in-the-round setting, the need for the performers to use their space wisely was especially important, and John made sure of this in his blocking of the scenes. The scenic design also added whimsy and character to the show; there were myriad details that create a warm, comforting environment that accurately reflect the lighthearted tone of the show.

From rehearsals to performances, You Can’t Take it With You has been a great experience both onstage and off. Though performance may not be my primary involvement with theatre here at State, I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to perform in this show. With a lovely cast and crew, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first performance experience here at Michigan State, and I look forward to working with these actors in the future.


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