Spring Play 2016 "You Can't Take It With You"

Laughs, Laughs... Think About The Meaning Of Life And Then More Laughs!

WGHS Drama presented a revival of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s award-winning play You Can't Take It With You for it’s 2015-2016 Spring production in the Jerry R. Knight Auditorium March 31st, April 1st and April 2nd 2016.

Originally the department was planning to produce the comedy, Harvey, however the rights to the play were ripped out from under us and so we quickly switched plans and decided to do this perfect little play from the late 30's.The script and cast requirements fit perfectly with the students we had at auditions.You Can’t Take It with You features a fairly large cast, so we even got to bring in a couple more actors with the second choice...and the show went on!

                      Poster (Showcard) design by Ally Goggin in Technical Theater Class


(Taken directly from Wikipedia)

At first the Sycamores seem mad, but it is not long before you realize that if they are mad, then the rest of the world is madder. In contrast to these delightful people are the unhappy Kirbys. Tony, the attractive young son of the Kirbys, falls in love with Alice Sycamore and brings his parents to dine at the Sycamore house on the wrong evening. The shock sustained by Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, who are invited to eat cheap food, shows Alice that marriage with Tony is out of the question. The Sycamores find it hard to understand Alice's view. Tony knows the Sycamores live the right way with love and care for each other, while his own family is the one that's crazy. In the end, Mr. Kirby is converted to the happy madness of the Sycamores after he happens in during a visit by the ex-Grand Duchess of Russia, Olga Katrina, who is currently earning her living as a waitress.

Act I
Scene 1 – Dinner hour at the Sycamores
Scene 2 – Late that evening
Scene 3 – The next day at the dinner hour


Act II
Scene 1 - The next afternoon

         The Kirby's bring tension to the dinner hour...wrong night? Oh Tony how could you?


We held auditions in the drama room on a Thursday and Friday after school. We had a great turn out of students come and try out. This was a unique audition in that we also had students reading for parts for two other productions that would be mounted at the same time. Hannah Leatherbarrow (‘17) was directing and was looking for two males actors to play the roles in John Logan’s amazing play RED. Senior director Kate Arendes wrote a one act that would be featured in All Write Week called Atropos. It was an amazing apocalyptic Greek drama thriller-on-a-train. 


Three directors, several other students at the casting table and a ton of auditions. It was a whirlwind of faces, but we had no problem casting all of the parts. We have never had three shows in production at once but it worked out great and lots of students got to stay involved through the Spring semester.  

Thanks to Becca Riley, Mr. Schaefer, Kate Arendes, Hannah Leatherbarrow, and Jacob Noce for being our casting table!

Becca Riley ('16) rocked it out as our Stage Manager. She hadn't ever held the position before but after organizing the school's lip-dub event Mr. Schaefer knew she could handle the management part of the job...the theater part was all new! 

Spencer Erb and Annelise Kerr-Grant playing through a scene in the Drama Room during an early blocking rehearsal. This is when everyone is learning all the movement in this show...it never stops!

The group of students assembled for this show were amazing in their roles and all of them worked very hard to make the show a big success. The family we created on stage became a very charming example of how love conquers all. It was a real treat to be at rehearsals with this group for two months!

     The Vanderhoff family are joined by a Duchess and Mr. Kirby... 
  ...and both decide to stay for dinner.

THE ACTORS (in order of appearance)

  Bridget Kahrhoff…………...Penny

Aisha Swartz…………..…..Essie

Kate Becker……………..…Rheba

Matt Woolbright……….…...Paul

Trevor Zink…………….…..Mr. DePinna

Joe Castleman…………...Ed

Spencer Erb……………….Donald

Travis Williams……………Grandpa

Annelise Kerr-Grant…….Alice

Miles Umbaugh……….....Wilbur C. Henderson

Aidan Kurtz……………….Tony

Rowan Van Horn………….Mr. Kolenkov

Natalia Sauer……………..Gay Wellington

Justin Comegys………….Mr. Kirby

Maddy Toskin…………….Mrs. Kirby

Trinity Madison…………..The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina

and of course...

                           Nick Suber, Zach Comegys, and Yusuf Randolf…………..as the G-Men

The Production DESIGN

This was a wonderful opportunity for us to go back in time and visit the late 1930's for a bit, and to look at the world through the lens of the those who lived back then. The Sycamore family is a wonderful example of why we may need to stop and re-examine our values. Ask ourselves, "Are we Happy?" ...What are we spending our time doing?

Special thanks to Hannah Leatherbarrow for building a dramaturg packet for the show that broke down the late 1930's with pictures and facts of the decade. It really helped Mr. Schaefer with the period and answered several questions we had about various references made in the script.


The materials we generated to sell the show were really fun and this is an interesting show to promote. There are all kinds of imagery and subjects you can pull from the show to build your marketing materials.

T-shirt design was completed by tech student and cast member Maddy Toskin. She created the extremely clever font that contained all kinds of various symbols and imagery from the show. Nice and easy to read too!

This is a great example of a show shirt design. In our department we call it the "Moving Billboard", your potential customer doesn't get as much time to read it when both people are moving past each other. Not all poster designs make great T-shirt designs when you are trying to get attention paid to the title so quickly. 

The Technical Theater Class is responsible for providing an entry in the T-shirt design contest (The 2nd place pick becomes the program cover)

The original T-shirt artwork from Ally Goggin was instead used as the program cover art. It worked out great and had so many of the shows moments captured as well. The shape of the design really made for a perfect cover.

The final programs printed in a different color for each night of the show

...and the Poster Design contest.

Students from outside the class can also participate but most of the time the design comes from someone in the class.

Technical Theater class works through a very fast designing process in the computer labs on campus and produce the designs mostly in the class periods provided. We use Microsoft Publisher and manipulations of various Google images to build the designs. We build the posters (showcards) for a 11 x 17 size paper. We also print one of each of the students designs to hang in the lobby for every show. The cast and crew vote on two that get multiple copies made in full color and are then used to promote the show on campus.

      A Poster design from Al Kellerberger and one from Robert Hood

We sold well for the run. We tried to keep the production as inexpensive as we could by using as much our of our stock as we could. It worked. We knew going in that we wouldn't sell a ton of tickets, but we got very respectable houses for the run. and made our expenses back and we were able to put a little in the account for the next season of shows.

We are also using digital trailers and/or teasers of the show to try and utilize the world of digital media to help sell tickets. We believe it does help get the word out to some students who maybe don;t look at show posters or know anyone in the cast or crew.

Simon Moore is the student responsible for generating all of the videos for us this year. This is the 5th teaser he has done for us in the season and we love all of them!

Here is a link to the teaser we made for this show! 


The SCENIC Design

The design for the family home was fun for the Tech Theater class to work on because it required us to fill the whole stage of the auditorium. With the cast being as big as it is we wanted to us the space as much as possible.

We started the rehearsal process in the Drama Room, but the cast finally got to move onto a semi-built set to get familiar with the spacing and the levels
This is taken after a good run of several scenes in the play.

               The set walls and platforms and steps are in. The doors and trim are being hung next

The majority of the set was built during the day with the Technical Theater class. They were an amazing construction crew and we got everything built in record time. This allowed the class to help dress the set during a class period as well. We don't always get that luxury, sometimes we are dressing the set in the late hours of the evening the night before.

Maggie Pool adding some trim onto the built in stool/box 

With so many things happening in the auditorium in the Spring it was also necessary for us to keep the structure mostly behind the main drape so we could close it for other events taking place in front of the curtain (awards, speakers, district meetings etc.) during our production schedule. It can get tight at times in the space with all of the various district events that can pop up, but we survived and everything worked out in the end as it always does.

                                                                     It takes a village!

The playwrights's intentions for the set are pretty specific.

The Sycamore family estate...

The layout of the house was pretty specific and the scripts tells you how many exits/entrances and where they suggest they should go. We decided to switch the layout from our last production. The house is exactly reversed from the time we produced it in the Little Theater...and it of course is much wider. (about the same depth though)

The whole set really came together - here is the set almost finished at one of our final dress rehearsals. It even had a few more things hung on the walls before we opened.

The color palette was warm and used a lot of browns, oranges and deeper yellows to help sell that this was summertime, it was hot, and the house didn't have air conditioning. the colors of the set also helped push the palette of the costumes. The characters needed to pop off the set and with Alice (played by AKG) to really look great in her blue dress she needed a warmer toned background. All of the costumes and lighting cues were designed with this in mind. Lots of cool or bright pastel colors used in costumes when we could and Jonah Schnell (Lighting Designer) also pushed the cool palette when he could for high contrast. 


The set allowed for some wonderful scenic elements that made the house charming and historic looking. The Tech Theater class spent a good amount of time completing individual designs for each of the walls of the set that appeared in the floorplan designed by Mr. Schaefer.

In class they focused on creating the "frontal elevation" of each individual wall. We looked at all of the designs and picked from the batch of over 70 drawings. This became our path.


This is always a very cool assignment and lots of ideas get shared. When we do a box set this method works well for collaborative design. We can't always use everyone's ideas, but somewhere on the set each student can identify something they had a hand in creating.

The coolest part of our set became the windows. We had one that was USR that we covered with layers of sheer curtains, but we had two that we decided to make into faked out stain glass. We use paper, but it works great!

               The initial window ideas from Al Kellerberger and Ryley Wilson in tech class

Hannah Leatherbarrow during the night of set painting before the panels were installed

We had so many great designs from the tech students to chose from and the student's who's designs got picked had to redraw to full scale and blow up the design to fit the space on the set. Two students used peacocks in their designs that really connected them ans made them a perfect choice for the set.

Al Kellenbeger designed a four panel window that was hand colored and each image was then inverted to create a symmectrical design for the upstage center part of the set. It added an exciting splash of color on the stage and really made the home feel elegant.

Ryley Wilson designed an additional set of panels that went above the kitchen door and it too was hand colored.

Both window units were back light with clippie-lights to help illuminate the colors and create a fantastic glow on the set. Here is Matt, Trevor and Bridget sharing a scene and you can see both of the finished windows glowing nicely in the background.


We had some fun with the costumes for the family and all of the crazy guests that come into this commune-like house. Tea Gardner and Grey Ferber took the role of co-costume coordinaters for the show and rocked it out! Emma Dowling also assisted a bit during the final stages of tech week (she had done it previously for Hamlet). This show had a lot of clothing to keep track of and the cast also had a lot of new people in the department that hadn;t done the process before.

Grey and Tea at the first several rehearsals 
getting all of the actor measurements for costumes

                             Miles, Spencer, Joe, and Matt dressed and ready to go onstage

It took some organizing to make sure the costumes for each actor were tracked and collected at the end of each performance. The team did great and even had some repairs to handle along the way. The costumes looked awesome and the cast treated them with a nice level of respect.

When the tax man comes...Miles, Bridget and Joe play out the scene

                            The Kirby's dressed for a dinner party that goes terribly wrong...but you have to admit, they did come on the wrong night.


Kate Becker and Rowan Van Horn getting into character       AKG and Aisha Shwartz 

The period is mostly easy to fudge by mixing some real vintage clothing with some things that just look vintage.

Kate Becker and Spencer Erb opening the 2nd Act of the show and backstage. Kate's costume(s) were a mix of borrowed clothing from someone's closet, and aprons from our stock. The make-up and hair always finalizes any look (nice teeth you two!). 

                                           AKG and Aidan Kurtz played the young couple

We pulled a lot from our own costume stock of clothing and accessories. We hold a good selection of men's shirts, and some nice house dresses and some other items to finish up a look.

We also have to go outside our department when we costume a show. It allows for some additional creativity and Mr. Schaefer tries to bring students along for the ride when there is thrifting involved. It helps show how you can dress a cast on a dime when needed. This show had an afternoon of thrifting with some students. The Forest Park Ave Goodwill was the best one we found for what we needed to get several actors dressed. We also bought some small items (jewerly and glasses) from Johnny Brocks on Jefferson Blvd.

We borrow quite a bit from the actor's own closet. It is sometimes the only way to get the actor dressed without breaking the bank on all the supporting cast.

We were very lucky to be offered the opportunity rent a wonderful dress for Alice, A great 3 piece suit for Grandpa some period tuxes, vests and bow ties from the Repertory of Theater of St Louis's stock. That helped push the accuracy of the period.

The Rep rental stock is fabulous. Mr. Schaefer got to visit the warehouse this time, but took pictures and texted them to the student designers Grey Ferber and Tea Gardner for opinions.

Two of the dresses we looked at and decided not to use

The vests that we rented gave us a unique style for each of the characters

Spencer Erb, Joe Castlemen and Aidan Kurtz posing backstage before the show.

 Adding the extra accessories like suspenders, bow ties and hats 
really makes the costumes help round out the character.  

Aisha and Bridget in the very opening of the play

Shoes, belts, undergarments (even t-shirts) are usually something the students provide themselves. 

NOTE: We also make everyone bring in deoderant and baby wipes to ensure there is a level of freshness before they put the costumes on for a show. 
It makes our backstage more pleasant for all involved!

Can't we all just get along?


Director/Tech Director………………...Mr. Schaefer
Stage Manager ………………………..Becca Riley
Onstage Mgr SL/Props……………….Maggie Pool
Asst Onstage mgr SL/ Pianist………..Kate Arendes
Dramaturg……………………………..Hannah Leatherbarrow
Asst Tech Director/ME……………….Jonah Schnell
Tech Dir Apprentice/Sound Op………Jacob Noce
Set Construction Crew Chief…………Nick Wylie
Set Design/build………………………4th Hour Technical Theater
Asst Set Build crew…………………..5th Hour Adv Tech
Lighting Design……………………….Jonah Schnell
Sound Design/Op…………………….Sam Toskin
Photographer…………………………Jake Collins
Costume Mgr…………………………Tea Gardner & Grey Ferber
Costume Asst…………………………Emma Dowling
Make-up …….………………………..Sam Cohen
                                                          Tea Gardner
                                                          Maddy Toskin
                                                          Grey Ferber
House manager……………………….Hannah Leatherbarrow
Program Cover Design……………….Ally Goggin
Poster Design…………………………4th Hour Technical Theater

            This was a wonderful crew to work with and the show ran without any major hiccups

Box Office Breakdown 
(we always have a few that sneak in on us and don't get recorded or late arrivals)

Our box office keeps tabs on how many adults/students/complimentary tickets are distributed.
Hannah Leatherbarrow was the box office manager for this production and wrangled the lobby team together.

Printing and folding programs is fun...

Thursday Night  - 129 in attendance
Friday Night       - 123 in attendance
Saturday Night   - 215 in attendance


We sold popcorn (popped fresh), various sodas, Hi-C boxes, and Brownies & Cookies (provided by the wonderful Jennifer Arendes). This is always a nice treat for the audience and we usually make a little money back in the end to help pay the bills.  


Our props mistress Maggie Pool was also in charge of SL during the run of the show. She operated some of the special effects, helped with mic changes and provided an ear for the booth. Props were mostly set behind the SL side of the set or they started preset on stage. This had a lot to manage and the team did very well making sure all of the items were ready to every night and that it got tracked during the show so we could find everything when the show ended each night.

Props for this show are rather elaborate at times, but a lot of them we could pull from stock or make ourselves. A few items had to be bought mostly for wall decor.

We constructed the fake antlers on the wall, a fake printing block, all fake food for the dinner scenes, fake fireworks, and many other props that we handmade and then hand painted.

We also borrowed many items for the show from members of the cast's homes. The great typewriter for Penny and grandpa's dart board both came from the Props Mistress's own house. Both are essential to the show and they both work well on the set.

The set was absolutely packed with all of the props used to tell this story and all of the home decor this family has accumulated over the many years they have lived there.

Senior Jonah Schnell designed lights for the show and really incorporated a lot of looks into each scene that helped build the time frame of the story very well. 

We had to travel through the course of three days and we had to be in several times throughout the day. He used LED lights on the cyclorama and our regular instruments on the rest of the stage. Jonah has lit the space several times now and has started to find a level of cofidence by this production and it showed. 

                           The lighting was beautiful and well crafted to fill every scene.
       Here is Annelise Kerr-Grant and Aidan Kurtz in the evening scene after the ballet.


The sound design for the show was engineered and ran by the amazing Sam Toskin. He has been working on our shows for a bit now and the cues are all edited to fit the moment and the timing has to be perfect. Sam did a great job building all of the cues. He also was assisted by Robert Hood in the booth. Some of the sound cues were explosions from the basement and the front doorbell chiming occasionally.

                      Joe Castleman and Maddy Toskin getting mic'd and ready for mic check

The other part of Sound Design happens live with the actors onstage each night. This show used lapel mics for each actor in the show to help push the volume out to the audience more. A lot of the cast were new and the Auditorium is very large. Some new actors can't quite project safely an fill the space. We try to protect the actor's instrument and if the cast really new we try to use mics on the big stage.  

               The Sound Board Operators rocked it out and 
                      All of the mics sounded great! 


A couple of things were used as effect in the show. We had a ceiling fan turning over the stage the whole show which added a lot to the time of year we were trying to represent.

They show also had a wonderful ending to the first act that required us to use an additional LED light and a fog machine to make fireworks seem like they were being blown up in the basement at various times in the story. It added some real fun to the technicians job to coordinate the lights, fog and sound effects on a cue line. 


The cast and crew go to Steak 'n Shake after the Friday night show as a tradition. 
They've doing that for years! 

            After the Sat night show there is usually a party at one of the cast or crew's house. This is when sometimes you'll have an WG Troupe 191 Alum show up and hang out too! 
                                                           Hi Carl Wickman!

Thanks to everyone who helped 
make this show possible!

                                 Joe and Matt say, "GO SEE A PLAY!"

                      Visit WWW. WGDRAMA.COM to see what else we are currently doing.

                                 IT'S ALWAYS FUN TO DO A REVIVAL OF A SHOW

WG Drama has produced this play before, but it was done in our recently closed Little Theater on the south end of the campus. That space was much smaller and we produced that version almost 8 years ago with students that are now out of college and some of them are actually running their own theater companies around the country. (check out WG Alum's Jake Fruend, and the theater Co he works for in Chicago http://www.mercystreettheatre.org/ he played Mr. Kolenkov the first time around...some of our actors do go off to become theater professionals) That was a wonderful production and even though Mr. Schaefer has been through it before this was still a challenge for us in many ways. 

Check out the blog page for our last production of this show at: 

Big concerns: Could we have as much fun as last time? Could we get people to come see it again? Could we get it to work on the bigger stage? The answer to all of those questions is yes we can and yes we did.


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