Stockton Civic Theatre hosts Pulitzer Play

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Stockton Civic Theatre put on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Comedy play, You Can’t Take it With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman from Jan. 17 to Feb. 4 and it was directed by
Rob Salas. 

Originally released on Broadway in 1936, the play follows the eccentric and fascinating adventures of the Sycamore family and their acquaintances in New York. 

Within the family there’s Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, Penelope Sycamore, Paul Sycamore and the Sycamore’s daughters Essie Carmichael and Alice Sycamore along with Essie’s husband, Ed Carmichael. 

The story revolves around the out-of-the-ordinary interactions between Alice and her newly found boyfriend, Tony Kirby. 

All of the actors’ portrayals of their roles worked well together making the audience truly feel like they were watching a wacky family in real life. 

Standout actors included Esther Henderson who played Essie, the aspiring ballerina. Her ability to purposefully dance in a cringe worthy manner multiple times throughout the play during some ensuing chaos behind her without breaking character was commendable. 

Henderson had something in common with her character. 

 “I’ve actually been dancing since I was about two years old, so that’s been about 17 years now and I feel like I have gotten better over the course of my life. And my name’s Esther so- Essie and Esther when I was cast I was like ‘Oh that’s really cool!’” 

Heidi Gremel, who played Penelope Sycamore, was also a standout actress because of her ability to make every line seem as natural as possible while expressing exactly how Penelope Sycamore would react through her facial expressions. Gremel truly brought to life the supportive and hobby-collecting mother. 

The obvious crowd favorite was Cindy Braden who played Gay Wellington, the drunken actress friend of Mrs. Sycamore. With her blacking out scenes to her trying to kiss every character in her sight when she was awake, Braden had every audience member dying of laughter.

“What I most relate with Kirby is that he believes in the good in people. He appreciates people for just who they are regardless of whether or not it’s what he’s doing in life. Instead of making you into someone that he’s used to, he just accepts you,” said R. Israel Rodriguez, who played Tony Kirby.

Set Designer Brian Scott Johnson created a detailed and visually stunning set inside of Martin Vanderhof’s home. 

Every prop and decoration was impeccable from the stairs to Mrs. Sycamore’s typewriter to Grandpa’s collection of snakes. 

The set worked in conjunction with the lighting and sound from when Alice would “turn on” the lights in her living room to whenever someone was at their door, ringing the doorbell. Another notable element of the play was the accurate and lavish costumes done by Costume Designer Jennifer Barker Gatze. 

Olga Katrina’s regal duchess dress and wrap looked straight from Russia’s royal archives and Essie’s formal dance attire was fitting for the most prestige ballet performance. 

Overall, the lighting, sound, set and costumes complemented the plot and actors without overpowering them.
Stockton Civic Theatre’s next play will be Dead Man’s Cell Phone which will run from April 25 to May 12. 

Tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased at sctlivetheatre.com.