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GECA actors 'Take it'

By By Matthew Nascone
The Greater Escambia Council for the Arts (GECA) had local youth scurrying about for the past two weeks trying to produce a play. All that time came to fruition last weekend as the first Youth and Children's Theater performed their first production, "You Can't Take it With You," on stage at Ernest Ward Middle School.
"I think it went very well," GECA membership chairman Anne Sherrill said. "It was a lot of fun and I was really proud of all the students."
The production is a product of the first ever GECA Youth and Children's Theater Workshop. The group involved with the workshop was broken into two casts, the red cast and the blue cast. The two casts alternated performances throughout the weekend.
"It was surprisingly great," blue cast director Kate Sherrill said. "I say surprisingly because of the amount of time in which inexperienced kids took this on and put it together. The play went above and beyond expectations."
Kate Sherrill said the success of the workshop could make the event an annual ordeal for the youth involved with GECA.
Anne said the audience was a definite plus for the weekend and she was glad to see so many people come out and support the youth.
"We had a great audience and they were responsive, which is always good," Anne said.
The experience is one that Anne said could last a lifetime for these children.
"I actually had one of the younger students come up to me and say that they had the most fun they have ever had over the past two weeks."
Up next for some of the youth is the annual presentation of "Miracle on 34th Street" in mid-December.
And of course, there are the parents. Without the parents, none of this would be possible, Anne said.
"I want to thank the parents for allowing their children to participate," she said. "And for all the time they put into the workshop as well."
"You Can't Take it With You" was first produced in 1938 and won two Academy Awards including Best Picture and received five other nominations. It is about a large free-spirited family without visible means of support who meet a mean-spirited tycoon intending to take over their neighborhood. A romance flares up between the family's daughter and the tycoon's son, which proves to be a recipe for comedy.
Students from Atmore, Brewton, Walnut Hill, Fla. and Century, Fla. make up the cast and crew for the production. They range in age from 8 to 17 years old.
Ellen Johnson, 15, of Atmore directed the blue cast and Kate Sherrill, 16, of Walnut Hill, Fla. directed the red cast.
Atmore Advance publisher Adam Prestridge contributed to this article.