Theater director shooting for the stars in classic comedy production

Archer (above, pointing) directing the student actors as they run through a scene around the table.

Archer (above, pointing) directing the student actors as they run through a scene around the table.

Money can’t buy love or happiness, but it can buy tickets for MHCC’s spring theater production, “You Can’t Take it with You,” produced by George Kaufman and Moss Hart.

Having seen the film adaptation directed by Frank Capra, I’m really excited to see how the Mt. Hood group will put everything together.

Set in 1930, the story follows Grandpa Vanderhof and his eccentric family who dance (rather terribly), write, make fireworks, and overall live to be happy. The only relatively normal one is his granddaughter, Alice, who becomes engaged to Tony Kirby, the son of a business tycoon.

“You have someone who’s in the regular culture who’s very well behaved, meeting up with someone who is in this crazy family,” said director of the MHCC production, theatre instructor Mace Archer. “So, it’s kind of a love story to see if they’re going to be able to work it out.”

It’s also going to be interesting to see since the play will take place in Mt. Hood’s Studio Theatre, just across the Main Mall from the Student Union. Since the venue has only 80 seats, Archer’s hope is that the show’s six-day run will sell out.

Apart from that however, the real challenge is to set up the small space to portray the story.

“At its height, we have about 14 people on stage, and so we’ve done it more on the lines on how you might see it in a small theater in Chicago,” said Archer. The small setup will bring a challenge for the overall look and flow of the play.

Personally, I’m curious how they’ll put together scenes that take place where some of the family member’s make the fireworks and test them in the basement.

One of the challenges with the play isn’t the space or even the actors, but the recent production in local high schools such as in Sandy and Gresham. Archer isn’t worried about this, though, since it is one of the most produced plays in America. “It’s such a well-liked play that it’s not that people will say, ‘Oh, they’re doing “You Can’t Take it with You” and go, ‘‘Oh, I’ve seen that,’ ” he said. “I think they’ll say (instead), ‘I love that play!’ ”

Indeed, I’ve seen it before and can’t wait to see it live in action, so there’s got to be some truth to that, right?

It’ll also be the first outright comedy Archer’s directed since coming to MHCC. True, there have been elements of comedy in the past, but most of the productions were satirical and had a little bit of an edge. It’ll also be a challenge to the actors since “plays aren’t quite written like this anymore,” he noted, mostly because of the play on words and jokes that can either crack up an audience or not elicit a response at all.

Archer said his hope for this show is that, by learning how to present this style of work, the Mt. Hood actors “become more sophisticated with that style of comedy.”

Opening night will be Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. The shows runs on May 13 and May 18-20 at the same time, and there will be a 2 p.m.  performance on May 14.

Advance tickets for Mt. Hood students/staff and seniors are $5. At the door, they are $7, $10 for general audience members.

Get a bang for your buck and enjoy the show!

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