Veteran Dot actors in Footlight Club comedy

Three seasoned Dorchester actors – Mary Rutkowski, Fred Bernabe, and Jamie Alley – are in the cast of a classic comedy that is opening the unprecedented 133rd season of Jamaica Plain’s Footlight Club (FLC), America’s Oldest Community Theater Group.

Though of late the Footlight Club has presented some edgy works, the current show ,“You Can’t Take It with You”, couldn’t be a more conventional choice.

The Moss Hart-George F. Kaufman comedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1936, and Frank Capra’s screen version in 1938 won Oscars both for Best Picture and Best Director. No wonder the delightful family comedy has become one of the most often produced plays by community theater groups during the past 70 years.

“You Can’t Take It with You” is the original meet -the-parents farce. The shenanigans unfold in the living room of the eccentric Sycamore family where as diverse activities as ballet dancing, xylophone playing, and anarchistic literature printing – not to mention fireworks displays— all take place.

When daughter Alice, the only “normal” member of this freewheeling clan, falls for the son of the snooty Kirby family, misunderstandings, and, eventually, chaos ensues.

Mary Elizabeth Rutkowski ,who teaches theater arts at the Joyce Kilmer Elementary School, plays the snobbish Mrs. Kirby, who dabbles in spiritualism. Though this show marks her FLC acting debut, she was on stage at Eliot Hall in 1996, when her wedding ceremony was held there! Rutkowski played the Quaker Mary Gardner in the September 2006 world premiere of “Patience of Nantucket,” written by UMass professor Robert Johnson and presented by the Dot-based Up You Mighty Race company. Other credits include work with Theater Offensive, Playwrights’ Platform, and Yaghoobian Theater Company.

Comedian Fred Bernabe, who appears regularly at the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, has the role of Donald, played by Eddie Rochester in the Capra film. Regulars at the Roxbury Film Festival will remember the Dot resident from his appearance in the movie “Business is War.”
Though Jamie Alley has a smallish part in this show (“The Man”), he’s a big wheel at FLC. He’s on both the Board of Directors and the Play-Reading Committee. His FLC acting credits include “Psycho Beach Party” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Directing credits include “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom/Sleeping Beauty or Coma.”

The production continues Friday and Saturday this weekend and next at the Footlight home, Eliot Hall near the monument. For further details log on to footlight.org.