No family is normal, but the Pulitzer Prize winning play "You Can't Take it with You," performed by the Kenai Performers, should make the audience take another look at the meaning of normal.
The Sycamore family makes most families seem perfect. But when their oldest daughter, Alice, brings the wealthy and uptight family of her fiance to dinner, the meeting makes for a hysterical show set in the 1930s.
Jonathan Saylor, director, said "You Can't Take it With You," is one of the first plays he acted in and is one of his favorites.
Saylor handpicked all 18 members of the cast.
The play will be each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, beginning Friday, through May 13 at the Old Town Village Restaurant in Kenai.
Grandpa, center, played by Cliff Bouchard, greets his family, from left, Ed Carmichael, played by Bill Worsfold, Paul Sycamore, played by Bob Honea, and Penny Sycamore, played by Yvette Tappana.
Photo by Sara J. Smith
Saylor said he chose to make the performance a dinner theater because of the intimacy and interaction with the audience.
"It is a great dinner-theater play. Any time you have a one-set play where you don't have to change the set or scenery, it is conducive to a dinner theater. And this is a home atmosphere, so it makes it all the more homey."
Saylor said the play appealed to him because it had the three elements he looks for: humor, drama and spectacle.
"There is a story line here that is a good point for us all to remember," he said about the drama side of the play.
But the most fun element is the spectacle that Saylor has in store.
Penny Sycamore, played by Yvette Tappana, at left, and Essie, played by Maggie Tappana, far right, look stunned as the Kirby's, played by Judy Shields, Glen Tinker and Gary Hondel, come for a surprise visit.
Photo by Sara J. Smith
"There is tons of fireworks that go off in the middle of it," he said.
That's right. Real, live fireworks that have been approved by the the fire marshal are part of the show.
"It is just firecrackers, there is no open flame, but it is a lot of them," Saylor said, adding that strange noises come from off stage throughout the show, also.
While many of the faces are familiar from recent performances such as "The Foreigner" and "The Music Man," four actors, Jeff Perry, Joy McCaul, Glen Tinker and Bob Honea, will make their debut performance with this play.
McCaul plays Rheba, the maid, and said she is enjoying being in "You Can't Take it With You."
The Sycamore family questions Tony Kirby, played by Gary Hondel, second from right, when he calls for the oldest daughter Alice, not pictured. The family, from left is Grandpa, played by Cliff Bouchard, Ed and Essie Carmichael, played by Bill Worsfold and Maggie Tappana, Penny Sycamore, played by Yvette Tappana, and Paul Sycamore, played by Bob Honea, at far right.
Photo by Sara J. Smith
McCaul said Saylor called her up one day after meeting her briefly and asked her to be in the performance.
She said yes to the offer because, "The Lord told me to do it," she said.
McCaul said the role is a lot like herself.
"I get to do something I do everyday: I make a fool of myself. I am loud, obnoxious and you can't miss me," she said, adding she enjoys taking her personality and mixing it with one in a script.
McCaul said she sees Rheba as an important part of the family.
"I don't think it is a major role, but is a great support role," she said.
With the new experience of acting under her wing, McCaul said she enjoys the cast.
"It is like being with a family," she said. "We have become the Sycamore family."
While acting is not new to Maggie Tappana, the dance moves she performs on stage were more than she expected.
Tappana plays Essie, the youngest Sycamore daughter who dances her way through life. In every scene, Essie performs dance moves from one side of the set to the other, she even sports a pink tutu in one scene.
Originally, Tappana said she was just going to wing it, but some help from an area dancer helped.
"I was just going to do what came naturally," she said. "If I have the same thing to do every night, it is easier."
Tappana enjoys playing Essie and says it is a fun role.
"She is so out there."
She said she also enjoys sharing the stage once again with Bill Gronvold and Bill Worsfold from "The Foreigner."
"I really like the opportunity to work with them again," she said.
She said she is excited about the performance.
"I think the community is really going to like this play."
Bill Gronvold plays Boris Kolenkov, a Russian expatriate ballet dance instructor.
"I am sort of the comic relief," he said.
He said the role is an opportunity to play a character with an accent.
"I am most excited about working with Jonathan Saylor," he said. "He is just a brilliant director, as well as actor."
"You Can't Take it With You" is the 79th show Saylor has either acted in or directed.
"I have been in all aspects of (theater)," he said. "When you direct, you get to be involved with the process of it, and that's what I enjoy. I enjoy watching all these loose, dangly ends come together. I just love that."
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