By Ron Hellman
If you had been following the progress of the Parkside Player’s production of “You Can’t Take It With You” portrayed in my last three columns, you may want to know how it all turned out.
Well, by all measures, it was quite a success. And why not?
The Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman comedy, originally produced in 1936, won the Pulitzer Prize, was turned into a Best Picture Academy Award winner two years later, and revived on Broadway several times since, stands the test of time.
A zany family that just likes to have fun, an eligible daughter and a dashing bachelor, the Wall Street rich guy who learns the error of his ways, and the family patriarch beating the taxes levied by the Internal Revenue Service – how can you go wrong?
Perhaps you were one of the fortunate few hundred who got to see the play. It was one of Parkside’s most popular and best attended productions in its 35-year history. And for us actors, we had a good time and were well cast, under the leadership of our director, Mark Dunn. Friendships flowered and hugs flourished, as we all got together for a couple of months to put on the best show we could.
Audiences showed their appreciation by their laughter and applause, and by their positive comments afterwards. No formal critiques took place, an unfortunate oversight — or simply a sleight — by the borough’s weeklies, which seldom take the time or space to provide a reviewer to offer his or her opinion in print.
Parkside’s stage is housed in the basement of the Grace Lutheran Church in Forest Hills, a better facility than in most community theaters. The group has generous use of the space, including storage and dressing rooms, and a kitchen to provide refreshments at intermissions.
It also has risers so that many of the seats can be elevated to avoid that tall person in front of you who may block your view. Putting them up and taking them down can be quite a production in itself.
Of course, all could be so much better in a real theater, with state-of-the-art equipment, permanent seating and air conditioning, so that an audience can be comfortable and appreciate fully what is happening on the stage.
Perhaps our political leaders will finally recognize the value of the many theater groups here in Queens and do what it takes to provide the modern venues that our borough of almost 2.5 million deserves.
So this production of “You Can’t Take It With You” is now history — a mere seven performances over three weekends.
We actors, amateurs all, enjoyed the experience which will long last in our memories. Many will go on to another show, and another one after that.
But from this one we learned, as the character of “Grandpa” — the role that I played — discovered: just relax and have fun.
Contact Ron Hellman at rbhof