Asolo Rep continues its 2012/13 theme of “The American Character Project,” which began with “1776,” with yet, another spectacularly relevant production of a great American classic, “You Can’t Take it with You.” This play is politically en pointe for today and reminds us that the “pursuit of happiness” does not lie in the bottom of a pocketbook.
It’s the tale of an eccentric, creatively inclined extended family who eschew the more conventional trappings of success in favor of supportiveness, individuality and harmony in their daily living.
The patriarch of the Vanderhof/Sycamore clan, in conversation with Wall Street titan Mr. Kirby, asserts the central idea of the famed play, “You’ve got all the money you need. You can’t take it with you.” Nonetheless, the line which got the most laughs from the opening night audience was when Grandpa Vanderhof declares he has never paid income tax because the government would just squander it. There’s something for everyone in this play.
George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart brought their acclaimed, Pulitzer-winning play to the stage in 1937, during the Great Depression. It was immediately made into a film in 1938 by Frank Capra, and stared James Stewart. The Asolo revival, under the suburb direction of Peter Amster, continues to glorify the comical genius of these revered writers.
A marvelously talented cast contributes its all to make this an immensely enjoyable, heartwarming and celebratory production. The large ensemble of performers work together as one perfect effervescent bubble of delightful drollery. Peggy Roeder, as Penny Sycamore, and David S. Howard, as Martin Vanderhof, drive the show and deliver the best lines, but the rest of the cast members shine just as bright.
Lindsay Tornquist plays Essie Carmichael, who ballet dances through most days; Joseph McGranaghan is her xylophone-playing husband; Tyla Abercrumbie plays the tomato and cornflakes-serving housemaid aided by her husband, Donald, who’s “on relief,” played by Christopher Wynn. David Brietbarth plays Paul Sycamore, who makes fireworks in the basement with his assistant, Mr. De Pinna, played by Francisco Rodriguez. Wilbur C. Henderson is played by Jesse Dornan. Daughter Alice Sycamore, played by Brittany Proia, precipitates the major plot point by her engagement to Tony Kirby, played by Brendan Ragan. Eric Hissom, as Boris Kolenkhov, and Carolyn Michel, as The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina, nail their Russian caricatures. Douglas Jones, as Mr. Kirby, and Gail Rastorfer, as Mrs. Kirby, are delightful snobs with hearts of gold. Gay Wellington oozes silly sluttiness as Kelly Campbell.
IF YOU GO
‘You Can’t Take it with You’
When: through April 20
Where: Asolo Reperatory Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail , Sarasota
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