Opening night of “You Can’t Take it With You,” The Master’s University theater team were able to express the fruits of their labor.
“You Can’t Take it With You” is a classic comedy about a dysfunctional family. One of the leads, Alice, is engaged to be married to a young man from a wealthy and altogether ordinary family—at least he is ordinary compared to her family. This engagement brings her joy and trepidation, as she considers the impact her family will make upon her fiance’s family. A disastrous family meeting ends with both sides of the family spending the night in jail, and a broken engagement. Alice packs her things to leave, but is stopped by an interesting exchange between her grandfather and the father of her ex-fiancé. These two men discuss what is really important in life. Not money or success, but life, family and fun. The families reunite, the engagement is reinstated, and the curtain falls.
This play differs from the theater department’s’ previous production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which was completely sold out for all showings. While “Fiddler on the Roof” may be considered a tough act to follow, this play was definitely a hit.
“This play was so refreshing and it allowed you to sit back, and really enjoy an evening. So they did a really good job at drawing out those emotions from people, like they were hilarious. But it was different than Fiddler in the way that Fiddler was very emotional,” said Tiffany Batista, a sophomore who was in the University’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.
The overall consensus was, especially from those who had not experienced Fiddler on the Roof as something to be compared to, this play was excellent.
Daniel Barulich was well chosen for his role as Grandpa. When wrinkles were applied, and slippers were worn, Barulich became a Grandpa. Even when speaking with him outside of theater, his old soul is apparent. His mannerisms, facial expressions and gestures connote those of a caring old man, even while out of character. The script, the character and the actor himself all added warmth, wisdom and humor to this play. His laid back, wacky personality was much loved by the audience, and he gave them many memorable moments.
“Grandpa actually looked, acted and talked like grandpa. I really liked the grandpa role. I think he acted it out very naturally, and the fact that he was the hero in the end, so to speak,” said transfer sophomore, Kaitlyn Seres.
Another favorite character was the charming and winsome Alice, played by Christina Meitler. The personality of Meitler fit her character to a tee, and she threw her all into this role. Her passion, joy and talent were evident. Freshman Abigail Gunning, Kayla Jones, Olivia Simmons, and sophomore Sami Del-Rio all agreed that Mietler did an excellent job playing Alice.
“My favorite character was Alice. She was so amazing. Her personality was just so much fun to watch, and her actions were so fun, and everything was just awesome about her,” said freshman Kaitlyn Hilarides.
Many of the cast members are veterans of the Master’s University theater department. Karianne Frazer, and Kailey Richardson are both seniors, and have been acting in the University’s theater department since their freshman year. Frazer has been in every theater production that the university has produced since her time here, including “Fiddler on the Roof.” Richardson has been a part of six theater productions since her time at the university, and has been able to serve as a crew member as well as a cast member.
For other members of the cast, such as Barulich and Meitler, this production is their first at The Master’s University. They were both honored to have an opportunity to play roles in this production, they said, even though being new to a program can be intimidating.
“As those who are seasoned were more trained to be reaching out and leading the newbies into what the goal of the program is. A lot of people have done acting programs if they join, but they haven’t done Master’s, which is completely different than most theaters. It’s more about reaching out, making sure we’re getting to know new cast members and trying to unify them,” said Richardson.
The actors played a family, and now they are a family.
“I think production week really bonds everybody. Everybody who experiences trauma together becomes closer together,” said Richardson as she chuckled about the “trauma.”
“It’s a long week. It’s exhausting. But it’s so good, and necessary for the cast,” said Richardson.
Was it a success? Well, their goal was met. The cast became closer. There were no injuries. The play went off without a hitch, thanks to the dedicated directors, Tricia Hulet, James Phillips and Eilsa Nyenhuis. All three directors are graduates from the Master’s University, and were all a part of theater during their time attending this university.
“It was a success. There were times when we faltered, but it’s sweet to see the Lord correct that and bring us back together. We really had to rely on the grace of the Lord for this show. It was a struggle piecing it together and making sure we were coming together as one cast and one crew. But it’s sweet just to see the Lord fulfill that,” said Richardson.
This play met the high standard that this university strives for.
“Master’s has a standard of excellence for the glory of the Lord,” said Richardson. “All of our work should reflect that.”