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Kooky comedy comes to L.V. Rogers

Quinn Barron, Morgan Beck and Gillian Wiley star in ensemble comedy
Quinn Barron, Morgan Beck and Gillian Wiley (L-R in foreground) star in You Can’t Take It With You, a Pulitzer Prize winning play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart. Directed by Robyn Sheppard, it runs June 2 to 4. Photo: Will Johnson

Think Montague versus Capulet, but funny.

The two New York families in You Can’t Take It With You, a Pulitzer Prize winning show set in the 1930s, have radically different ideas about capitalism — yet they’re intermarried, and crammed into the same room for comedic effect.

And they’re a little bit batty.

“I play Grandpa Vanderhof, who is the 75-year-old patriarch of a very large and somewhat eccentric family, the Sycamore-Vanderhof clan,” lead Quinn Barron told the Star.

“They live in a big old house by Columbia University, and the story revolves around the relationship between my granddaughter Alice and the son of a business tycoon, Tony.”

Barron is getting a kick out of headlining the 18-student cast along with Morgan Beck and Gillian Wiley, and though some of the jokes in the script feels dated, he said the universal themes in the show gives the humour a contemporary relevance.

“In 1937, this was a very Liberal, leftist play written by these Hollywood intellectuals, and on one hand it’s about individualism and finding happiness through the small things in life, and then it’s also very anti-capitalist,” he said.

“There are parallels with Trump, in terms of his worldview around immigrants, and to the whole political landscape.”

Directed by Robyn Sheppard, the show will be performed in the high school drama room — which has been transformed into a living room that demonstrates the eccentricity of the characters, from June 2 to 4. To one side of the stage is a writing desk complete with a skull caked in blood.

“I love how unconventional these families are. They’re not held back by expectations or societal norms. They’re quirky.”

But Beck considers herself the one “normal” character.

“I love my family a lot, and their crazy-ness, but I do get tired of it sometimes. I bring my normal fiancée and his normal family into this chaos, and everything goes nuts.”

Something that helps: the cast are all friends, and have an easy chemistry with each other from previous shows together.

“It’s nice to be working on a comedy, because we’ve done some dramas and atmospheric pieces, so this is definitely a very different feel than when we did The Miracle Worker.”

Her favourite part of the show is how fully Wiley has become her character Penny Sycamore, a cluelessly earnest character. She’s repeatedly cracked her up during rehearsal — though she’ll be careful not to crack a smile once the show goes up.

“The whole thing is just such a fun time.”