Kjirsten Lemon and Lawrence Valdivia play mother and son in "You Can't Take It with You."

Maricopa High School Theatre Company again draws from classic comedy for its winter production.

The students will present “You Can’t Take It With You,” a 1936 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It became a 1938 film by Frank Capra starring James Stewart.

“It is a great, goofy, fun comedy. It’s got a lot of ensemble players,” said teacher Cynthia Calhoun. “We’ve been interested in it for a while and the rights were reserved because it was touring, and now the rights are open for amateur productions.”

Set during the Depression, the plot is a screwball Romeo-and-Juliet confection, with a very poor but happy-go-lucky girl named Alice falling in love with Anthony “Tony” Kirby Jr., the son of a wealthy, uptight family.

Crowded into a dilapidated old house, Alice’s three-generation family is eccentric, to say the least, and a stranger to paying income tax, but loving and open-minded. All their peculiarities are on display when the Kirby family comes to dinner. The evening ends in disaster, convincing Alice her family has destroyed her chance for happiness. But all is not really lost.

Senior Lawrence Valdivia plays Tony Kirby.

“I like the fact that he’s very in love with Alice,” he said. “It’s pretty funny, just the way I get to react to stuff.”

Tony’s stuffy mother is played by sophomore Kjirsten Lemon.

“I just like that I get to be this kind-of-mean character. I just hate everyone,” she said. “It’s just fun to try to do a different personality than I’ve played before.”

The cast also includes Alexia Esquivel as Alice, Antonio Gonzales as Mr. Kirby, Carlos O. Venegas as Martin “Grandpa” Vanderhof and Rachel Blakely as Penelope Sycamore among many others.

The production is Feb. 16-18 at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Cost is $5. Performances will be in the cozy confines of the Black Box Theatre on the west side of the Performing Arts Center, which Calhoun said offers a more intimate relationship between performers and audience.

“It’s a larger cast for a winter show but you’ve got all sorts of kooky family members and all their little quirks. It’s really just a fun show. It’s got a fun message to it: Enjoy life while you’re in it and don’t worry about the stuff you accumulate. And have a good time.”

Also coming later this winter are student-directed plays “Wit” and “Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.”

This story appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.


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