The Conway High School Theater Department is kicking off its 2017-18 season with "You Can’t Take It With You," which opens November 10 for local audiences.
The comedy centers around sweet-natured Alice Sycamore, who falls for banker’s son Tony Kirby. But when she invites her snooty prospective in-laws to dinner to give their blessing to the marriage, Alice’s peculiar extended family — including philosophical grandfather, Martin Vanderhof; hapless fledgling ballerina sister, Essie; and fireworks enthusiast father, Paul, — might be too eccentric for the staid Kirbys.
The production, directed by Conway Junior High School theater teacher, Johnny Passmore, consists of a 19-member cast, including ninth-grade students embarking on a first performance and senior actors marking their final year.
"Since it is such a large cast, and there are a lot of male characters, we had to bring over five ninth graders," Passmore said. "That’s pretty impressive for a high school play."
For some cast members, this will be, not only their first lead roles, but also their first time to perform on stage. However, they will be in good company, as this is Passmore’s first show to direct.
"The play was chosen because it’s a classic and a very good high school production. It’s been a while since Conway has done it — about 10 years in fact," said Passmore, who acted in a production of the play six years ago. "It’s more familiar to me."
Passmore says he is particularly excited about Act II, which is the meeting of the two families.
"There are a lot of individual characters doing a lot at once," Passmore said, adding that the action "keeps the audience paying attention to the hectic scene, and describes the Sycamore family pretty well."
Passmore shared that his cast and crew are trying to keep the show "as close to a professional performance as possible," and said this is made possible because the children are all "super hard working."
The set and stage lighting is all student-handled as well. The school recently implemented stagecraft courses, designed for students who are more interested in what happens behind the scenes of a production.
"It’s really nice to have these classes available so the students can get hands-on experience with stagecraft," Passmore said. "They can take these classes and gear them specifically to the kids’ needs from a theatre aspect."
"You Can’t Take It With You" opens Friday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m., with another showing Saturday, November 11 at the same time and a matinee Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and will be available at the door. All proceeds go directly into the school’s theatre program.