Live snakes in the living room. Fireworks exploding in the cellar. An addled woman who pens bizarre plays with titles like Sex Takes a Holiday
. It sure is good to be back with Martin Vanderhof and his family again in Garland Civic Theatre's production of You Can't Take It With You
The classic comedy You Can't Take It With You, written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, opened on Broadway in 1936 and lasted nearly two years. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and received two major revivals on Broadway. The play is now performed quite frequently by regional theatres, colleges and high schools. You Can't Take It With You is about an uninhibited family who believe in enjoying life to the fullest—even when your behavior may appear unconventional to others.
The play has more than twenty zany characters, and all were well acted. Standouts include Susan McMath Platt as Penelope Sycamore, the amateur playwright. Her voice had a daffy quality which announced her hairbrained attributes and her wacky facial expressions provided equal testament to these traits as well. Renee Krapff as her daughter Essie who was studying ballet also milked the laughs out of the script. Miss Krapff never walked when she could leap across the stage. Her interpretation of ballet steps was bizarre and inviting.
Frances Elijah played the family's maid with wry assurance. She tossed off her zingy one-liners with relish and zeal. As her boyfriend, Kevin Norwood also had a fine way the dialogue and their scenes together provided excellent commentary on the affairs of the family that she worked for. Although family patriarch Martin Vanderhof is less flashy than the rest of his family, Don Berger fleshed out the characterization nicely.
Kimberly Corbett's set was wonderful. It demonstrated the madcap interior of the Vanderhof home down to every last intricate detail. Jeulet Noye's costumes were a rich evocation of the 1930s and also highlighted each character. Kyle McClaran's sound provided pleasant underscoring for the action.
The only concern I have about this production of You Can't Take It With You is with the unnecessary alterations made to the piece. As mentioned earlier, this play has long been recognized as a classic and does not require any improvements. The romantic elements of the play were highlighted, including a choreographed dance for the young couple in love. My opinion is these interpolations detracted from the comedy of the play as written and were not particularly effective.
However, there is still plenty of raucous laughs to be found in the Garland Civic Theatre production of You Can't Take It With You. This is your opportunity to see a splendid American Comedy on-stage in a production full of lively performances.
The Garland Civic Theatre presents You Can't Take It With You through December 9. For more information, please visit their website.
Photo Credit: Celeste Rogers