“You Can’t Take It With You” opens at Newport High

Above: Three of the eccentric family at the center of “You Can’t Take It With You” live their authentic lives in this scene as, from left, Morgan Hanna portrays Essie Carmichael, Josue Sanchez Valencia plays Grandpa Vanderhof and Jared Matthys plays Ed Carmichael. Below: Kaydance Redwine, foreground, reads lines for a missing cast member during a rehearsal at an afternoon rehearsal on Jan. 8. (Photos by Stephanie Blair)

This evening, a timeless family comedy filled with quirky surprises opens at the Newport High School Theater: under the direction of Jody Hanna, the 17-student cast of Newport High presents “You Can’t Take It With You.”

The play originally premiered on Broadway in 1936, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1937 and was adapted into a film directed by Frank Capra in 1938.

“‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is one of the most performed plays in the world,” said Hanna. “I don’t know why that is. I think it’s because the themes are popular … it’s kind of that classic story (of vastly different families meeting) and it’s fun, it’s funny.”

For Hanna, however, there were two primary reasons for selecting this play to put on; everyone loves a comedy, and it stretches the expands the knowledge of her students.

“It was written in the 1930s, and it takes place in the 1930s,” said Hanna. “And my students don’t have a lot of experience doing stuff from that time, so that appealed to me. It’s been fun teaching them about some of the nuances of that time … I really enjoy that learning part of it.”

In this classic story of two worlds colliding, Tony Kirby, a boy from a wealthy, clean-cut family, falls in love with Alice Sycamore, a girl in his office — played by Ashtyn Burns and Melanie Hanna, respectively — and they become engaged. What he doesn’t know is the comedic madness that will ensue when his family meets hers, which is filled with eccentrics — to put it politely.

The production opens tonight, Jan. 10, and continues on Saturday, Jan. 11, and Jan. 16-18. All performances begin at 7 p.m., in the NHS Theater, adjacent to the multi-purpose room. Tickets are sold at the door; $8 for adults and $5 for students. There will be an intermission after act two of three, and there are no strobing light effects. Newport High School is located at 322 NE Eads St.

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