The performances ran for five days from Feb. 4 through 8.
Written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, the play portrays the challenges and chuckles of life during the 1930s, including the effects of the Great Depression. While not many plays have had such a successful lifespan – 80 years and counting – the popular play continues to leave audiences with plenty they can take with them, such as laughter and the value of having a loving family.
The play touches on some rather sensitive themes, such as the subtlety of tax evasion, the oppression of communism and what can happen when a career becomes one’s downfall. But there were also plenty of laugh-out-loud moments from the unique cast of quirky characters, including Martin “Grandpa” Vanderhof and his eccentric and entertaining family.
One plot in the play revolves around Vanderhof’s granddaughter, Alice, who falls in love with a young man whose family is quite different from hers. They appear to have more affluence and influence in the world than her peculiar family and she fears falling in love will not only cause problems, but be impossible. However, despite her worries and comedic chaos that ensues, everyone discovers that no matter how many plays go unpublished, dances go unperformed, or even if the basement blows up; where there’s love and laughter, things always work out.
Dan Frezza, who plays Vanderhof, was perfect for the part.
“It’s a wonderful role to play,” shared Frezza, who is no stranger to the stage, having performed many roles at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Bringing his signature wit and wisdom to the role, as all wise grandpas do, Frezza finished each performance leaving the audience inspired and entertained.
“I always hope to make them laugh, get a little teary and think. That’s why I love being an actor,” he said with a genuine smile.
With that smile, Vanderhof saves the day for Alice, her future husband and her father-in-law to be; the hard-boiled businessman who finds out that life is about much more than money.
In the end, Director Richard Bugg summed up the play perfectly.
“Turning our ambitions toward loving each other is the true secret of happiness,” he said. “After all, love is ultimately the only thing that you can take with you.”
Hopefully, that includes lots of laughter as well.