Depression-era 'Can't Take It' at BPATwo cast members return for their encore 15 years later.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:37 PM
"Seventeen people are gathered around a large table, talking and gesticulating.A tall, red-headed man downstage right listens, one arm folded across his waist, chin pensively cradled in the other hand. Let's try that full voice - you need to holler your lines, he says at last.Cast and crew of You Can't Take it With You, the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman comedy opening at Bainbridge Performing Arts (BPA) this week, are in the third hour of the cue-to-cue, the rehearsal that blends technical elements of the play with the acting. The company around the table disappear into the wings momentarily and reassemble onstage to try again, and again. Finally director Todd Jamieson relents and gives them a 10-minute break. The cast, some of whom have missed lunch, praise Jamieson as they pass around a bag of Fritos.Todd Jamieson is a great director, actor Bill Kooreman says. He knows what he wants to achieve and he communicates it to you. He's in control.Kooreman speaks with a certain authority; this is his sixth BPA production. He is one of several actors in their 70s who seem to generate a disproportionate amount of the production's energy.I got the part I wanted in the play, Kooreman says, and I am the oldest male in it. Another actor pipes up: Oh, you are not. I'm 73.When it was first produced in 1936, You Can't Take It With You, was considered a madcap comedy - high jinks to escape the grim context of Depression and growing German hegemony. Jamieson suggests the script is still timely.The play is contrapuntal to our contemporary juggernaut of marketing and hustling to accumulate this and build that, he says. These characters live fully, without judgement. Bob Zinn and Ann Fleming play a married couple - the same parts they had when BPA produced the play 15 years ago. I am playing it a little differently now, Anne Fleming says. I think it has to do with Todd. He is such a magnificent director.A number of the cast make the same point - they love Jamieson. They suggest he empathizes with them because he is himself an actor. Jamieson has starred in both Macbeth and Hamlet at Fool's Cathedral, the Seattle theater he founded, and has acted in a Broadway production of Macbeth with Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson. He also appeared in the films Smoke Signals and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The high-spirited cast seem to blur with the play's freewheeling characters. Nine of the cast members worked with Jamieson in My Fair Lady last year. Although he is pleased to see them reappear, he emphasizes that the material is also a draw, that the Sycamore family of You can't Take It With You has proved irresistible for 65 years to both actor and audience for its spontaneous enjoyment of life.The spirit of the play has infected the cast, Jamieson says, and they are naturally that way to begin with. They pursue their dreams every day. * * * * *The Bainbridge Performing Arts production of You Can't Take It With You runs Feb. 16-March 23 at the Playhouse. Curtain for Friday and Saturday performances is 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Admission is $18 adults, $15 students/seniors; admission for the March 1 performance is pay-as-you-can. For tickets, call the box office at 842-8569. "