Taken By Laughter

  • Taken By Laughter        

    With You Can’t Take It With You

    As the saying goes: “you can’t take it with you,” but Sayville audiences were certainly overtaken by laughter during the recent Sayville Players Fall production of You Can’t Take It With You, and for good reason. While the Pulitzer-Prize winning play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart was written in 1936, its comic appeal remains timeless.  (The current revival on Broadway is another testament to its longevity.) Who couldn’t understand the basic boy-meets-girl/fall-in-love story that fuses two incompatible families with hilarious consequences?  This formula, originated by Kaufman and Hart, has not only influenced American comedy, but has been adopted as a format for many television situation comedies today.

    In the Sayville Players production, the talented troupe delivered jokes, written in the 1930s, with the right comic spin to make them work in 2014. 

    While special acknowledgements go to Director Steven Hailey, and the behind-the-scenes (see below)* managers, technicians, and crew members, congratulations are due to the following Players for their on-stage performances:

    • Sharp timing and perfect articulation was how Sean Velazquez played central character Martin (Grandpa) Vanderhof, the family patriarch and philosopher who abandons the rat race of the competitive business world for a calmer, gentler life, which includes raising snakes, attending circuses and commencements, and somehow evading his taxes. 

    • The role of artistic, free spirited, would-be-writer Penny Sycamore (Martin’s daughter) was split between two spirited students, Zoe Rivera and Eileen Monahan, who each portrayed her zany antics with pleasing buoyancy.

    • As Paul Sycamore, the unassuming husband of Penny, Sean McNally was the perfect foil for his kooky wife, portraying  a modest and simple man whose passion for exploding pyrotechnics is matched by his simplistic enjoyment of “playing with erector sets.

    • Savannah Votino was spritely and entertaining as whimsical Esther [Essie] Carmichael, Penny and Paul’s oldest daughter, who spends her day making candy and happily chasing dreams of dancing, oblivious to the reality that her ballet teacher Mr. Boris Kohlenkov, and everyone else who knows better, thinks she “stinks” at it.

    • As gifted at xylophone playing as his wife is at dancing, Essie’s husband Edward Carmichael, hilariously portrayed with clear voice and eye-catching vitality by Jamie Baio, has found his fulfillment in life with his hobby of printing anything that strikes his fancy and by distributing Essie's candies throughout the neighborhood. Unfortunately, Ed’s unwitting mass production of “propaganda” arouses suspicion with J-Men.

    • At the heart of the comedy is love-smitten Alice Sycamore. Playing the straight-woman among comic characters, Gena Mizzi was sympathetically believable as the only ‘normal’ member in the eccentric household who fears any future with her fiancée  Anthony [Tony] Kirby, Jr. and his staunchly conservative parents will be ruined once the two families meet.

    • Employing polish and style, Tim Costorf was appropriately elegant and refined in the romantic lead of Tony Kirby, Jr., Vice President of his father’s company, who greatly values the genuine love and affection he discovers in Alice’s unusual family.

    • As the boisterous and politically opinionated, ballet teacher Boris Kohlenkov, Liam Haber filled out the large role of the Russian émigré with outstanding enthusiasm and convincing accent, delivering his most famous line “it stinks!’ with comic effect each time. 

    • Portraying Anthony Kirby, Sr., Brian Walsh was wonderfully memorable for his amusing bluster and ludicrous dither, perfecting the comic contrast with the mellow and unstressed Grandpa, while his beleaguered wife, Miriam Kirby (the role was shared by the delightful Emma Vall and the entertaining Olivia Andersen)  reveals the many stress fractures in their marriage during a harmless game of word associations.

    • Among the ancillary characters, the part of Mr. DePinna was traded each night by two dynamic Sayville Players, Jake Vail and James Velazquez. Each gave his unique comic talents to the role of the Ice Deliveryman who never left. Still around five years later, DePinna proves indispensable as Paul’s fireworks assistant and Penny’s live model for her painting of a Discus Thrower.

    • Jake Vail and James Velazquez also traded roles as I.R.S . man Wilber Henderson who becomes befuddled by Grandpa’s rational against paying taxes. This scene’s memorable interchange filled with wit and witty repartee was well done by both Sayville Players who assumed the part. In fact, Jake and James shared one more part at Head J-Man who spearheads a raid on the Sycamore household with brusque and humorously over-efficient  J-men Jim (Angelina Keller and Meghan Fawcett) and Mac (Chris Hunt).

    • Comic one-liners from Household help Rheba (Meghan Fawcett and Gabby Giovan) added punch to many punch lines, while her dashing boyfriend Donald (Dalen Ferreira) literally dashed on and off stage for comic effect while scrambling to purchase food for unexpected guests.   

    • Inebriated actress Miss Wellington was over-the-top funny; applause for Emily Osterloh who played this small part in a big way.

    • Last but not least, charming Grand Duchess Olga Katrina of Russia, now a refugee working as a waitress at Child’s Restaurant, made her grand entrance at the end of the play (performed with engaging appeal on alternating nights by both  Eileen Monahan and Zoe Rivera) to restore balance with her undaunted optimism.

    Production Staff Acknowledgements:
    Director/Producer: Mr. Steven Hailey
    Technicians' Advisor: Mr. Ken Van Essendelft
    Stage/Paint Mangers: Elizabeth Gouvis, Rebecca Mohrman, Mack Leddy, Karlee Ibanez
    Lighting Technicians: J.D. Verbeck, Mary Elizabeth Wisseman
    Properties Manager: Taylor Grandfield
    Assistant Properties Manager: Angelina Keller
    Sound Technicians: Rebecca Mohrman, Elizabeth Gouvis
    Construction Mangers: Daniel Forsberg, Andrew Cameron
    Sets & Scenery Crew: Brian Ferretti, Julia Stueber, Gena Mizzi, Jessica Leigh-Manuell