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Paul Sycamore, portrayed by junior Benjamin Finseth, fixes his clothes during Highlands ’ performance of ‘You Can’t Take It With You.’ Courtesy: Dan Ledbetter
Selected excerpts from Cappies critic reviews of Highlands High School's 'You Can't Take It With You'
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Cincinnati Christian Schools
Highlands High School had a brilliant cast who brought thoughtful worth and humor to every line and action. The energy lifted each actor from one hysterical moment to the next.
Kay Vermeil as Alice drove the show with her indirect humor of being the only 'normal' person in the Sycamore family. Her ability to create genuine stress of being embarrassed by her family in front of the Kirbys added to the comedic tension. Her romantic counterpart Tony Kirby played by Ben Justice, brought a sweet glimmer of hope as he desperately tries to make his parents understand his love not just for Alice but for her family's way of life.
Olivia Ulmer (Penelope Sycamore) was definitely a favorite with her tone of voice and high spirit. Penny, as the matriarch of the family, always encouraged and supported her children in their activities. Her hilarious comments and interruptions made her a very lovable character. Nick Mohr (Grandpa) was the bond that held the Sycamore family together. Nick did a great job of conveying the message behind the show. Harrison Swayne played Ed. In every chaotic scene Ed was an unmistakable standout. It was clear that Harrison truly became the hilarious and awkward character.
William Mason High School
This particular group of actors and actresses truly worked as a quality ensemble. Every member of the show obviously put a lot of hard work into it and it shows. The two main love-birds, Tony and Alice, played by Ben Justice and Kay Vermeil had great chemistry on stage. Their relationship seemed believable and they were delightful to watch. Another duo that worked well together was Ellie Conniff and Harrison Swayne as the married Essie and Ed. The ballerina and xylophone player both worked their quirks in the funniest and sweetest of ways. Olivia Ulmer as Penelope Sycamore added such a sweet, carefree presence to the stage that felt completely natural and realistic. Grandpa, Nick Mohr commanded the stage at the end with his conversation with Mr. Kirby, and quite possibly might have stolen the show.
This entertaining show was brought together by the talented students of Highlands High School. Some of the memorable performances included Nick Mohr as the eccentric, albeit wise, Grandpa; Olivia Ulmer as the resident artist and playwright with little artistic ability, Penelope Sycamore; Harrison Swayne and Ellie Conniff as the adorable and childish comedic duo of Ed and Essie Carmichael. Nick Jourdan and Caroline Gates impressed with their Russian accents as Boris Kolenkhov and Olga the Grand Duchess. The actors appeared at home in the space, which added to the performance, as if the characters had lived in the house for their whole life.
Dixie Heights High School
The performances of the onstage cast were enhanced by all of the hard work invested by the crew. A stage with appropriate furniture and decorating made the set appear homelike. The wallpaper -- at first distracting -- began to symbolize the idea that the cast were no ordinary bunch. The lighting that corresponded with the characters’ adjusting the light switches made the homelike setting more believable. The props always seemed to be in place and it was clear that the props crew was very organized. One of the most memorable parts of ‘You Can’t Take It With You,’ was the creativity of costumes. The outfits of the characters helped develop the time period, the 1930s, and also enhanced each character’s personality.
Kay Vermeil and Ben Justice played convincingly their parts as Romeo and Juliet type lovers. The pair played off each other's emotions and never seemed forced or fake. Olivia Ulmer, who portrayed the character of Penny Sycamore, did an excellent job of keeping up with the zany energy and spirit of her character. She was able to switch her emotions as quickly as Penny was able to switch plays. Grandpa, depicted by Nick Mohr, brought the voice of reason when necessary, and the way in which he presented himself made his lines even more comedic.
Larry A. Ryle High School
All of the Sycamore characters were perfected, and embraced individual quirks with which anyone can identify. A crowd favorite was the character Ed portrayed by Harrison Swayne. Portraying an awkward and confused character, he had the audience laughing the entire night. Another was Boris the Russian ballet instructor played by Nick Jourdan. One of the best moments took place near the end of the first act. The Kirbys were greeted with the sight of Mr. De Pinna (Ben Eglian) posing in a toga for a painting, Essie (Ellie Conniff) dancing terribly in a tutu and Boris (Jourdan) accompanying her after ripping his shirt off.