A scene from "You Can't Take it With You" at Hubbard Hall.

A Singer’s Notes 62: Chestnuts (Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take it with You)

We were informed upon entering Hubbard Hall on Saturday evening, that a “chestnut” was on the menu. I like chestnuts. Chestnuts are successes, and they are successes because they work. Moss Hart and George Kaufmann’s particular chestnut You Can’t Take it With You is the theme song and battle cry of the 47%. One of the characters, Donald, a kind of serving man, reminds us a couple of times, that he is “on relief,” and the government gets really upset when he works. The government, in fact, is a constant presence in the play, belittled and shrunken and left virtually powerless by the formulations of Grandpa. Everything Grandpa says makes so much gosh-darn sense. Even Trotsky trots in on a borrowed horse as it were, his words printed indiscriminately by slow witted Ed as a kind of hobby.

Williamstown Theatre Festival announces three mainstage productions for 2011.

Our beloved Williamstown Theatre Festival has announced its Mainstage productions for the 2011 season, which will extend from July 1 to August 28. (Information about the Nikos Stage Season, as well as additional details about the Main Stage Season, will be announced at a later date.) This will be the first season under the festival’s new Artistic Director, Jenny Gersten, whose appointment was announced last spring. She is the third Artistic Director of the WTF within the past seven years, but no matter: she, like her predecessors, has had a long involvement with the Festival, as associate producer from 1996 to 2004, the years when Michael Ritchie ran it as Producer 1996-2004. He was succeeded by Roger Rees, who only lasted from 2004 to 2007 as Artistic Director. Nicholas Martin then took over. Mr. Martin suffered a stroke only a year into his tenure. After a period of recovery, the stroke seemed to impair his creative work very little, but it did force him to make choices — to Broadway’s benefit. All of these people have had strong connections with Broadway, as well as the non-profit theatres of New York. Hence there has been a solid continuity at the Festival in spite of this rapid succession of quick changes.

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