'You Can't Take It With You' at WAMS - My Review

The WAMS students present a very funny piece on the Apron Stage

The theater student at WAMS took on the comedy You Can't Take It With You and the entire cast had the audience that filled their Apron Stage laughing throughout the three-act play. Most of the roles required lots of lines and cues, and for many, lots of complicated blocking. For the most part, these young actors nailed all of it, and when they didn't, they covered well.

The set (designed by two students not credited in the program) had the lived-in feel necessary for the crazy family in this play. The student lighting added to the professionalism of the productinn (especially the repeated fireworks displays!) and the sound was flawless in this impressive high school theater. The costumes by the school and the students all added to the character development. A blank side of a page in the program was appreciated by this reviewer.Emily Mettina of Shakesperience sat in the front row next to my WAMS son and me and director Scott Slauson worried aloud nearby during one of the two intermissions.

This cast worked together as well as high school students often do.  Devin Braziel did a fine job as the kooky yet wise patriarch, Grandpa Sycamore. As the eccentric mother of the clan,  Emily Hazelton appeared older than her onstage offspring, while Bailey Cummings rocked the physical comedy needed to play their father.   As elder daughter Essie, Blesing Zenick had an ethereal quality as she danced (intentionally badly) through her lines. As her husband Ed, Justin Normandin had to play the xylophone and move quickly across the stage. Gabby Fernandes is sweet and lovely as Alice, the daughter who is a little embarrassed by her family, while Chad Taylor as Tony Kirby has problems of his own with his parents, played effectively by Issac Hutchinson and Olivia Conforti.

The characters (and I mean "characters" in every sense of the word) that interact with this zany bunch are very well-drawn and the director has cast them perfectly. As Mr. Depinna, Zaiha Hill has the demeanor of a mad scientist and the hairdo to match. Jillian Bradshaw plays an overdramatic actress, Lucy Christianna is a dutiful maid, and Anna-Nicole Doucette plays her unemployed boyfriend. Mackenzie Huneke is a super overwrought IRS agent and Paola Vargas was a riot as a Russian countess working as a waitress. Last, but never least, was Zach Carter at his comedic best as a Russian dance teacher Mr. Kolenkhov. Between his Russian accent and his dance move antics, my companion and I could not stop laughing whenever he was onstage.

Mr. Schulte has directed these talented teens to shine. The play may be a little over the top, but that is exactly the point. My congratulations to all involved in this fine production.

Next up at WAMS will be Waiting for Godot, In the Heights, and their senior showcase The Fantastics.

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