Breathtaking set, hilarious plot, and remarkable comedic acting hallmark Chantilly High School’s ‘You Can’t Take It with You’


Stephanie Feeback and Matt Calvert (Kelly Johnson)
June 4, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Madelyn Paquette, a student at McLean High School , reviews ‘You Can’t Take It with You’ performed by Chantilly High School as a part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Meeting the girlfriend’s family: it’s the ultimate test for a new relationship. How formally should you dress? Can you call them by their first names or is that disrespectful? Will they set off fireworks in the basement, demonstrate their interpretive dance and xylophone skills, and cause the entire household to be arrested for un-American activities? Tony Kirby certainly has some unusual questions to answer when he visits the Sycamore clan for the first time. But only one really matters: can his love for Alice survive this madhouse? Chantilly High School found heart in this pandemonium with their boisterous production of You Can’t Take It With You.

You Can’t Take It With You is a comedy written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. The play was awarded the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was adapted into a 1938 Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is the story of Alice Sycamore and Tony Kirby, a young couple from vastly different backgrounds. When the pair becomes engaged, their families must come together for the first time at a dinner hosted by Alice. However, when Tony brings his parents to visit this eccentric bunch one day too early, chaos and hilarity ensue.

Stephanie Feeback was a true delight as the hapless Alice Sycamore. She provided a refreshing contrast to the over-the-top antics surrounding her, with subtler but truly appropriate physicality and an expansive emotional range. Her breakdown near the play’s conclusion was particularly impressive in its honest execution, adding a necessary touch of pathos to the preceding farcical insanity. Her romantic counterpart Matt Calvert had superb chemistry with Feeback in the role of Tony, enhancing the believability of the strength of their bond. Calvert demonstrated his considerable talents in every aspect of his performance, from his perfectly understated humorous beats to his commitment to all of his character relationships. Tension practically radiated from his facial expressions and gestures when he interacted with his father, Mr. Kirby.

Chantilly’s cast was practically bursting with fascinating and hilarious supporting characters who filled their roles with uproarious absurdity. Brooke Johnson was nothing short of hysterical as Madame Kolenkhov. Johnson seized this traditionally male role with true dynamism and dominated the stage with her outrageously stylized performance, leaving the audience rolling in their seats with laughter. Another crowd favorite was Ed, played by Josh Lutz with fittingly oblivious enthusiasm. He crafted an adorably absent-minded persona with consistently side-splitting results. On the other end of the spectrum, Devyn Tinker proved to be a master of more serious moments as Mr. Kirby, endowing the Wall Street executive with rigid repression and severity which was a necessary contrast to Alice’s outlandish family. The entire cast remained firmly in character in their background reactions, and even actors in more supporting roles, such as Mr. De Pinna (Matt Manalel) and Gay Wellington (Chloe Vasquez), created riotously memorable moments.

The technical elements of the production were utterly superb. The set was absolutely incredible in its scope and detail, including multiple levels, off-stage rooms, and amusingly whimsical touches which were not only absolutely appropriate for the Sycamore clan, but contributed to comedic episodes in the show. Lights also did an excellent job establishing the setting, with simple but well-executed cues to illustrate the time of day and clean fades.

Although they might at first seem ridiculous, the Sycamores have found something that many people never truly achieve: happiness. Chantilly High School illuminated the unexpected wisdom in their lunacy with their exuberant production of You Can’t Take It With You.

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