Review: YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU at Oak Park Festival Theatre

Review: YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU at Oak Park Festival Theatre

Pictured (Left to Right): Gage Wallace and Erica Bittner. Photo by Jhenai Mootz.

By Andrea Cain

Every once in a while the stack of excellent dramas and heavy messages becomes excessive. It can be important to find an escape from your troubles with something light and enjoyable. Luckily, Oak Park Festival Theatre has provided just that with their production of the classic romantic comedy YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU. The adorable story of the Sycamore family offers an evening of pleasant and downright silly entertainment.

We meet the eccentric matriarch of the Sycamores, Penny (the endearing Barbara Zahora), writing a play on an old typewriter. She and the maid, Rheba (Lizzie Bourne) discuss the evening’s dinner, all the while watching Penny’s daughter Essie (the hilarious Erica Bittner) practice her ballet lessons. Through firecrackers, snakes, and printing presses we meet Paul Sycamore (Scott Westerman), his friend and work partner Mr. De Pinna (the lovable Chase McCurdy), the wise and anti-government Grandpa Vanderhof (Jack Hickey), and Essie’s husband Ed (the adorable Gage Wallace). Each family member brings their own brand of peculiarity, and each is met with more love than the last.

However, the real treat is meeting the Sycamore’s daughter Alice (the smart and lovely Tyler Meredith). She wishes to wed her boss’s son, Tony (Debo Balogun), who comes from a family entirely different than her own. Fighting between family and love, Meredith brings real heart to her performance.

The show itself raises the question: why must our differences set us apart from one another? No matter where we come from, we all seek companionship and acceptance. However, we are frequently met with resistance and misunderstanding simply because not everyone was taught how to live in the exact same way. Director Jason Gerace makes it easy for the audience to relate to a story that has stood the test of time.

A play in three acts, this classic tale with a beautiful message leaves the audience wanting to thank their loved ones for who they are and to open their minds to anyone who may simply be, well, different.

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU runs through July 21st. For more information visit 

About author

Andrea Cain

Andrea Cain has been performing her entire life, even through pursuing degrees in Mathematics and Education from Illinois Wesleyan University. Her minor in Theatre Arts allowed her to explore the world of theater critique, and she has enjoyed freely blogging about her experiences for many years. She can be found dancing, writing, and practicing different dialects with her family in her free time.

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