Maine West presents ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ April 18-20

Maine West High School’s Fine Arts Department proudly presents this year’s spring play, “You Can’t Take It With You.” This old-fashioned comedy opens on April 18 and runs through April 20. All performances are at 7 p.m.

The play first opened on Broadway in 1936. In 1937, playwrights Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for their masterpiece, and the screen adaptation of their play won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1938. Since then, there have been four successful revivals of the play on Broadway, most recently in 2014.

The story revolves around the family of Martin Vanderhof, a man who quit his job when he was in his 40s to start enjoying life. Martin, better known as Grandpa, is the patriarch of a large, extended family full of charming eccentrics. His granddaughter, Alice, is embarrassed by her family’s idiosyncrasies. When Alice falls for Tony, the son of a wealthy Wall Street tycoon, it seems as if these two families will never find a way to get along.

According to the director, Judy Klingner, this is a show about family, and the cast of 19 is like a family.

Veteran actor Ethan Mattson agrees. “This is the first comedy play that I’ve ever been a part of, and it has been super fun to play Grandpa because it allows me to be on stage with all of my friends and have scenes all together.”

The biggest challenge for student actors is creating realistic characters for the time period, and this play is no different. Cast members stepped into roles of characters who are completely different from themselves.

As senior Avery Rizzi states, “When it comes to my character, Alice, I have to work hard to become her and also find a way to get out of my own mindset and get into hers. I have to become someone who is far more confident than I am — someone who is a little vain and loves the way she looks. Alice has helped me become confident in myself and my acting, and I am so grateful.”

Behind the scenes, the run crew began working on the production only five short weeks ago. The set represents the uniqueness of the Vanderhofs, and the technical crew is planning to highlight the unpredictable nature of the family through special effects. Hannah Kallio’s job is to keep things running smoothly.

“My role as stage manager allows me to witness so much progress on the stage and behind the scenes. I am so proud of everyone in the cast and crew, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with during my final show.”

Youssif Massri portrays Tony, and he says, “this is a great way to end my high school experience because I get to express a really important message, and I get to take it with me throughout my life after high school. ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is a broad statement, but it highlights the importance of not being materialistic and teaches us to enjoy life and the moments you have with others.”

Haven Wallgren-Lemmerman (Mr. De Pinna) thinks that people should come see the production “because this show is such a joy ride. The meaning behind the show is a good lesson for all which is that money isn’t everything.”

Klingner puts it this way, “‘You Can’t Take It With You’ reminds us that life is short, so we should enjoy every minute.”

“You Can’t Take It With You” runs at 7 p.m. on April 18, 19, and 20. Admission is $7 for students and $12 for adults. Tickets may be purchased at or at the door.

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