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Stone Bridge Shines With Comic Classic

Julia Katz, a student at McLean High School, reviews Stone Bridge High School’s “You Can’t Take It With You."

Cornflakes and candy for dinner! Pet snakes in the living room! Making fireworks! Dancing terrible ballet! It’s just a typical night in the Sycamore household in Stone Bridge High School’s superb rendition of “You Can’t Take It With You,” a show that raises the question: Who knew everyday life could be so much fun?

This wacky three-act comedy, penned by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman in the mid-1930’s, is a staple of the American theater, consistently rated the most produced play in the country. The story is set in the unconventional home of the Sycamores, a loving and kind family, despite their eccentricities. Conflict emerges when sensible daughter Alice gets engaged to young investor Tony Kirby. Although Alice carefully plans a party for the future in-laws to meet, the straight-laced Kirbys arrive a day earlier than expected — and witness the chaotic Sycamores in their full glory!

The glue that held Stone Bridge’s production together on Saturday was the intense focus of the actors, who developed distinct personas but worked together remarkably as an ensemble.

As wise patriarch Martin Vanderhof, Jason Francis spoke in a deep bass voice that gave credence to some of the sweetest lines, his sincerity matched only by his comedic timing. His middle-aged daughter, Penny, was played brilliantly by Meghann Parkinson. From playwriting to painting to pestering her children about marriage and babies, Parkinson always got laughs from the audience with her affected accent and comic delivery. Young love between Alice (Samantha Teran) and Tony (Benjamin Palmer) blossomed on stage when the couple decided to tie the knot.

Erik DeLong’s crazed ballet master, Boris Kolenkhov, was a burst of playful exuberance and masterful physicality. With doleful sighs and angry fits, Mr. Kirby (Lucas McGavin) and Mrs. Kirby (Austen Willis) were perfectly suited their roles as deluded, discontented conformists. Even in small roles, Roopali Kulkarni and Daniel Fissmer gained notice as Gay Wellington and Donald, respectively, although their background antics occasionally upstaged key speeches.

The Sycamore house, designed and created by John Darr and Rachel Martin, contained ambitious and jaw-dropping effects, including moving staircases, revolving doors, hidden walls and more. Movements of these were carried out with near-professional execution by the stage crew. Although costuming was not always time-appropriate and fuzzy body microphones occasionally slurred diction, the incredible setting more than made up for any technical inconsistencies.

The word “unique” defines both the Sycamore family and Stone Bridge’s one-of-a-kind production, which put a daring and delectable spin on a popular classic.

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 19, 2008; 11:15 AM ET
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