By Emma Harkavy
“You Can’t Take it With You” opens this Friday as the upper school’s straight play for the year. How does a play without music change an actor’s approach to the work? Find out here!
“You Can’t Take it with You” will open to sold out crowds Nov. 17. Even those with no theatrical experience can typically identify a straight play for one simple reason: it has no music.
At St. Mary’s, the upper school produces one straight play and one musical annually. Because the composition of each type of performance differs, they each appeal to different tastes. There are some girls at St. Mary’s that choose only to perform in straight plays, some girls that solely do musicals, and some girls that partake in both.
This year, Madeline O’toole (12), veteran musical actress, is performing in her first straight play. Madeline says, “as a kid, I always preferred musicals because the plot was primarily driven by songs and that made them so much more entertaining. I've loved to sing for forever and so I've always just seen myself as more of a musical person.”
Madeline did not have the option to act in a straight play in middle school, but when exposed to the opportunity to in high school, she says “straight plays had always kind of scared me honestly because they were not driven by a thread of music all the way through. With straight plays, there are not any big songs that show how the character is feeling or big dance numbers that make the audience want to see more. Instead, the emotion and excitement is really conveyed by the actor and his or her words and actions alone. Although it is such a challenge for me, I have learned to really love it.”
On the other hand, Vivi Gray (12) and Ian Rone, a senior from Christian Brothers High School, have primarily acted in straight plays throughout their high school acting careers. Vivi says, “what draws me more into straight plays is the fact that there is a certain kind of elevation when it comes to the story and you can go into much more detail, and it is also more realistic than a musical since no one goes around singing all day.”
Beginning his acting career as a mere kindergartener, Ian explains that he got his start with many musicals, but as he got older, he learned to appreciate straight plays more. He says, “I like shows with drama in them where I can really show true emotion in a way that I feel many musicals do not enable me to.”
Now two days away from the her straight play debut, Madeline says she has learned a whole new manner of acting. She says, “being in the straight play has taught me to listen to my castmates. It is one of those shows that is so driven by the relationships that each character has with one another, and I think that discovering how that affects my character has been my biggest challenge.” Additionally, she explains, “I think the lack of song has made me more confident in my ability to convey emotion through words.”
“You Can’t Take it with You” is an intimate play with an audience of 70 sitting on stage. Due to limited seating and unprecedented sales, Ms. Madden has announced that all shows have sold out, but they have decided to now add a fourth showing Sunday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Be sure to buy your tickets here before these sell out too!