2016-2017 Season

 

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You Can't Take It With You   by Moss Hart and George Kaufman

When You Can’t Take It With You opened at the Booth Theatre in December of 1936, the play struck a chord of delight with critics and audiences. Richard Lockridge of the New York Sun wrote of the premiere, “There is not a fleck of satire in You Can’t Take It With You, but only gargantuan absurdity, hilariously preposterous antics and the rumble of friendly laughter, with madly comic people.”

                  You Can’t Take It With You also offered a figurative warmth. When the comedy opened, the United States was more than six years deep into the Great Depression, the economic downturn that, by 1932, had left about 25 percent of the American workforce jobless. In this period of national hardship, audiences were eager to forget their troubles.

The result was a swath of “escapist” or “screwball” comedies on both stage and screen—or, very often, on both. Dinner at Eight, Bringing Up Baby, and Twentieth Century (among others) transitioned from stage to screen within a space of one to two years. The film version of You Can’t Take It With You premiered at Radio City Music Hall while the Broadway production was still playing just five blocks away. Though the 1930s also saw the premieres of darker plays of political and social criticism (like the work of Clifford Odets), escapist comedies were, on a national level, the popular entertainment of the day. Today, popular comedies are often perceived to be a lowbrow art form, but in the 1930s, screwball was celebrated. You Can’t Take It With You was awarded the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the film version of the play received Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director (and was nominated in five other categories).

Despite the timeless appeal of You Can’t Take It With You, the conversations that transpire in the Vanderhof home reveal the specific attitudes and questions of the play’s time. 1937 was a difficult year for many Americans, and in addition to entertaining their audience, Kaufman and Hart offered an optimistic vision of how to thrive in “a crazy world.” 

  • Following the 1929 stock market crash, most Americans saw their living standards decrease. When Grandpa Vanderhof asks Mr. Kirby if he believes the country is out of the Depression, he echoes concerns held by the original audience.
  • In 1934, around 15% of New York City’s population was unemployed and living on public relief. While the Sycamores may enjoy dining on corn flakes, canned salmon, and frankfurters, not everyone could afford to eat well.
  • With the introduction of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933, expanded relief and jobs programs helped millions of Americans. But in 1937, the economic recovery took a scary downturn. The causes of this “recession within the Depression” were subject to debate.
  • References to Penny’s “war play” and to events in Russia reveal shifting views on America’s relationship to the larger world. The devastation of World War I caused U.S. foreign policy to favor isolationism.  Reluctance to intervene in foreign affairs deepened as a result of the Depression; however, by 1937 it was becoming impossible to ignore problems overseas. World War II would soon  be upon us.
  • The presence of the upper class Kirby family demonstrates that some people were fortunate enough to avoid the worst of the Depression; indeed, the wealthiest New Yorkers continued to live good lives. However, Wall Street brokers like Mr. Kirby had to work hard to maintain their lifestyle.
  • Martin Vanderhof, patriarch of You Can’t Take It With You, refuses to pay income tax because he “doesn’t believe in it.” He doesn’t see how paying taxes—money used for interstate highways, the military, and other public works—benefits him. Though a type of income tax was enacted to pay for the Civil War, Congress passed the 16th Amendment in 1913. This gave the federal government the power to tax individual incomes.
  • In You Can’t Take It With You, the Sycamores enjoy constant visits from Russian artists and royalty, and events in Russia are often discussed. The population of Russian immigrants in the United States grew rapidly after 1917. The overthrow of the czarist Russian Empire by socialist revolutionaries came with massive violence and social turmoil.  This wave of the new immigrants were prominent citizens of the former Russian society, now perceived as “enemies” by the Soviet Union. Although welcomed by the American government, they had to find ways to support themselves. In New York, the sight of Russian aristocrats working as waiters, store clerks, and elevator operators was an everyday reality.

The world outside the Sycamore home was in turmoil: Americans were losing hope and questioning the fundamental values of our country. But Grandpa Vanderhof and his family demonstrate another way to cope with challenges. The play proposes that by following our bliss and living for love, we can find happiness even in the hardest of times.

—The Roundabout Theater Upstage Guide

Sara VanCorbach                     Penny Sycamore

Brooke Boisselle                     Essie Carmichael

Aineka Carlson                        Rheba

Tim Leslie                                Paul Sycamore

Kyle Fergus                            Mr. DePinna

Christian Fendell                   Ed Carmichael

Ally Andersen                        Donna

Levi Nelson Grandpa             Martin Vanderhof

Sami Froemke                            Alice Sycamore

Courtnie Trego                         Wilma C. Henderson, IRS

Roman Sifuentes                    Tony Kirby

Cameron Wertenberger              Boris Kolenkhov

Reigna Bower                           Mrs. Miriam Kirby

Kobe Trego                            Mr. Anthony Kirby, Sr.

Claire Simmons                    Ms. Gay Wellington

Katie Doonan                    The Head G Man

Aryn Mamizuka                   Mac, The G Man

Sandra Soto                      Jim, The G Man

Courtnie Trego                      Mike, The G Man

Kendra Bower                          The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina

 

Reon Whittum                Construction/Set Team

Tim Everts

Steven Brant

Mason Bower

David Grigg

Xavier Hill

Assisted by Ellie Aguiar, Reigna Bower and Kendra Bower

Rachel Fender               Costumes Team

Anita Huffaker

Madelyn Villafan

Payton Sims

McKenna Woodyard

Katie Doonan                Props Team

Aryn Mamizuka

Sandra Soto

Claire Simmons

Kira Doonan                 Program/Administration/Lobby

Assisted by Naomi Fender

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  Oklahoma RH small

OKLAHOMA!  by Rodgers and Hammerstein

                After long and highly distinguished careers with other   collaborators, Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist) joined forces to create the most consistently fruitful and successful partnership in the American musical theatre.

                  Prior to his work with Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) collaborated with lyricist Lorenz Hart on a series of musical comedies that epitomized the wit and sophistication of Broadway in its heyday. Prolific on Broadway, in London and in Hollywood from the '20s into the early '40s, Rodgers & Hart wrote more than 40 shows and film scores. Among their greatest were ON YOUR TOES, BABES IN ARMS, THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, I MARRIED AN ANGEL and PAL JOEY.      Throughout the same era Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) brought new life to a moribund artform: the operetta. He wrote such operetta classics as THE DESERT SONG, ROSE-MARIE, and THE NEW MOON. With Jerome Kern he wrote SHOW BOAT, the 1927 operetta that changed the course of modern musical theatre.             

        OKLAHOMA!, the first Rodgers & Hammerstein      musical, was also the first of a new genre, the musical play, representing a unique fusion of Rodgers' musical comedy and Hammerstein's operetta. A  milestone in the development of the American musical, it also marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in Broadway musical history, and was followed by CAROUSEL, ALLEGRO, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, ME AND JULIET, PIPE DREAM, FLOWER DRUM SONG and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote one musical specifically for the big screen, STATE FAIR, and one for television, CINDERELLA.   

           The saga of the trials and tribulations of Oklahoma! before it reached its première performance in New York to become one of the surpassing triumphs of the American theatre is now a twice-told tale. Virtually everybody connected with the production was convinced he was involved with a box-office disaster. Here was a musical without stars; without "gags" and humor; without the sex appeal of chorus girls in flimsy attire. Here was a musical that strayed into realism and grim tragedy, with Jud as one of the main characters, and his death as a climax of the   story. Here, finally, was a musical which for the first time in Broadway history leaned heavily upon     American folk-ballet--the choreography by Agnes De Mille, one of America's foremost choreographers and ballet dancers. Oklahoma! might be fine art, was the general consensus of opinion before première time, but it was poison at the box-office. When Oklahoma! opened out of town scouts sent back to New York the succinct message: "No Girls, No Gags, No Chance." After the New York opening, the line was revised to read: "No Girls, No Gags, No Tickets." For at that première performance the surpassing beauty, the freshness, the imagination and the magic of this musical play held the audience spellbound from the opening curtain on. There was an ovation at the end. But Oklahoma! not only opened new vistas for the American musical theatre with its new and unorthodox approaches, and with the vitality and inspiration of Hammerstein's text and lyrics and Rodgers' music, it created box-office history. It ran on Broadway for five years and nine months (2,248 performances), breaking all of the then existing records both for length of run and for box-office receipts.

This year marks  its 74th anniversary of this classic and very American musical.  Enjoy!     (www.rnh.com)

Kobe Trego                                                                                                                   Curly McLain, cowhand

Reigna Bower                                                                                                               Aunt Eller

Sara Beth Van Corbach                                                                                              Laurey Williams, Eller’s niece

Tim Leslie                                                                                                                       Jud Fry, farm hand

Levi Nelson                                                                                                                   Will Parker, cowhand

Sami Froemke                                                                                                              Ado Annie Carnes, Farmer’s Daughter

Alan Garcia                                                                                                                   Ali Hakim, a Peddler

Christian Fendell                                                                                                       Ike Skidmore, Rancher

Courtnie Trego                                                                                                            Aggie Skidmore, Ike’s Daughter

Kiri Schoonover                                                                                                          Armina Skidmore, Ike’s Daughter

Claire Simmons                                                                                                           Virginia  O’Hara, one of Laurey’s friends

Brooke Boisselle                                                                                                       Gertie Cummings, Shopkeeper’s                                                                                                                                         Daughter

Anita Huffaker                                                                                                             Ellen, one of Laurey’s friends

Madelyn Tuning                                                                                                           Kate, one of Laurey’s friends

Kira Doonan                                                                                                                 Lauralee, Farmer’s Daughter

Aineka Carlson                                                                                                            Vivian, one of Laurey’s friends

Kendra Bower                                                                                                              Ellie Mae, Rancher’s Daughter

Rachel Fender                                                                                                              Fred, Farmer

Kyle Fergus                                                                                                                   Slim, Farmer

McKenna Woodyard                                                                                                    Joe, cowhand

Mason Bower                                                                                                              Sam, Cowhand                    

Levi Bollinger                                                                                                               Cord Elam, Federal Marshal/ Rancher     

Mason Bower                                                                                                              Andrew Carnes, Farmer and Local Judge                

Calla Isaac                                                                                                                     RoseMarie,  Rancher’s Daughter

Ally Andersen                                                                                                              Alyssa, Farmer’s Daughter

Intan Qanita                                                                                                                 Rosie Ann, Farmer’s Daughter

Savannah Castilleja                                                                                                 Emma, Farmer’s Daughter

Rachel Fender, Savannah Castilleja, Kira Doonan                                                Saloon Girls

 

Reon Whittum, Tim Everts, Steven Brant,                                                 Farmer and Cowman Fighters and Dancers

and Tyler Hutt                                                                                                                   and Set/Construction Crew!

Madelyn Villafan                                                                                                      Costumes Team and Sound

Payton Sims                                                                                                                  Costumes Team and Lights

Mia Hernandez                                                                                                           Props

Elisabeth Aguiar                                                                                                        Costumes Team/Program Biographies

 

Acting Direction and Producer                                                        Mrs. Lynn Brant

Musical Direction                                                                               Ms. Victoria Lodahl

Technical Direction                                                                            Mrs. Theresa Bell

Choreography                                                                                    Mrs. Brittany Andrews and Mrs. Cheryl Crossley

Costumer                                                                                             Mrs. Debra Geffe

 

 

 
 

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