Theater

Dinner and one great show

Kaufman and Hart's 'You Can't Take It With You' gets the radio play treatment

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/11/19

Taos Onstage and the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership have collaborated on a delicious holiday radio play and dinner theater.

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Theater

Dinner and one great show

Kaufman and Hart's 'You Can't Take It With You' gets the radio play treatment

Posted

Taos Onstage and the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership have collaborated on a delicious holiday radio play and dinner theater centered on the 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "You Can't Take It With You," by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

The show, directed by Dianne Davis, is planned Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 17-18) at The Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. A traditional holiday buffet and a vegetarian entree will be served at 6 p.m., with "You Can't Take It With You" performed as an old-time radio play starting at 7 p.m.

The setting for the show as always is the fictional circa 1940s K-Taos Onstage (KTOS) radio station where the radio actors, singers and man on the keyboard (Rick de Stefano) entertain a live audience.

The play may seem familiar if you're a fan of classic Hollywood movies; after all, its 1938 screen adaptation directed by Frank Capra won the Academy Award for Best Picture. While not technically a holiday-themed play, the story incorporates messages of love, joy, and the precious gift of life, according to Taos Onstage's Charlotte Keefe. If that is not enough to be worthy of a holiday play, the title says it all -- personal happiness is worth more than riches.

The Sycamore family is at the heart of the story. They are a peculiar family whose passions include pyrotechnics, snakes and dodging authority, according to a press release. Alice is the relatively "normal" Sycamore, and the plot is driven by her love affair with Tony Kirby, who is handsome, rich and the boss' son. His father is a buttoned-up Wall Streeter. Like all old-fashioned escapist comedies, opposites attract is and money isn't everything.

"You Can't Take It With You" is a madcap, zany, feel-good comedy that promises to make you laugh.

We asked Keefe about the production. What follows are her responses to a few emailed questions.

What adjustments have you made to this play to make it more "local"?

As in the previous "live" radio plays, the stage is the KTOS (K-Taos Onstage) radio station (circa 1940). We announce that we are broadcasting live in front of an audience from Taos, New Mexico. Also, we have a radio commercial that features Taos Mesa Brewing. Based on the play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart, the story takes place in New York City.

What's it like to put together a production like this since you aren't relying on props and staging?

We try to give the audience a feel for the old-time radio shows such as the Lux Radio Theater. To give the audience a feel for the era we use period costumes, hats and hairstyles. The radio actors have a script in hand and come to a microphone when it is time to speak. Because there is no action, the crucial element is the vocal inflections. In some cases, an actor may play several roles. As well as changing voices, actors playing multiple roles put on a different hat, scarf or coat to signify a particular character.

Again, to give the feel of the old-time radio show, Rick de Stefano is on the keyboard and fills in with background music that reflects the mood and/or the action of the play. Finally, because there are no props or action, there is a foley artist who does live sound effects during the play. The foley has a table set up with all of her props and gadgets to let the audience know when there is a knock at the door, a door opening or closing, a phone ringing, firecrackers going off, etc. The foley becomes a character in the play who the audience enjoys watching. All of these elements require precise timing.

In addition, we have singers who perform commercial jingles from the 1940s.

What message(s) do you hope audiences will take away after seeing this?

My most vivid memories of the holiday season are not of great sales or gifts received but rather about families, love, compassion and caring. Although "You Can't Take It With You" was not written to be a holiday play, the message reflects the special spirit of the season. We should seek to find what truly makes us happy- life is worth living and our riches come not from money but from those we love and care about.

What did you like most about directing this show?

Dianne Davis, the director this year, says, "After the casting I like to see the characters come to life through the elements of the story and direction. I have a vision and I love to see my vision coalesce into the final production. I like to be bossy."

Tickets for the dinner and show are $30. For just the show only, they are $15 each. Reservations are required by emailing taosonstage@gmail.com.

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