You Can't Take It With You
by Granite Hills Acting Workshop

Which shall it be – make a boatload of money doing a job you hate or scrape by doing something you love? You don’t have to ask Grandpa Vanderhof’s eccentric family which route they’ve chosen. But two worlds collide when one of the members of that quirky, non-conformist family falls for the son of the wealthy and stuffy businessman Mr. Kirby. Can love survive the impact?

Moss Hart and George Kaufman’s classic comedy You Can’t Take It With You is currently being staged by Granite Hills Acting Workshop. Director Jim Chatham and his group successfully delight in the comedy with some wild, over-the-top dramatics. At the same time there’s a darker than usual side to this family with some jealousies and rivalries and normal family stuff, but it’s clear they love each other all the same.

Grandpa Vanderhof (Jonathon Smith) is a gruffer, more serious Grandpa with a dry sense of humor. Amanda Maples stars as Alice Sycamore, the young woman dating the young Tony Kirby, giving her character a playful and amusing personality while she cautiously walks the line between adoring her quirky family and being a bit embarrassed by them. As Tony, Matt Rose is bemused and perhaps a little scared by his first brush with the potential in-laws, but he soon embraces their lifestyles and finds himself incorporating their odd personalities into his own.

The main characters set the story, while the zanier members of the family make it an outstanding comedy. In this production they are led by the hysterical couple of Essie and Ed Carmichael. Ricki Hendrickson is a riot as the fidgety, flirty, dance-impaired Essie, Alice’s younger sister. You never know what she’s going to be doing while in the spotlight or on the side, and she is always doing something creative, entertaining, and strange. Linden Melvin is her endearing, devoted, wide-eyed, sensitive, xylophone-playing husband. Together they are a match made in theatre comedy heaven.

Other excellent performances abound including Danielle Holbach as Essie’s outrageous, boisterous, charismatic dance instructor Ms. Kolenkov. Rusty Emmons is Alice’s father who never grew up and is constantly preoccupied with his firecrackers and various other playthings. Gina Goodman is Alice’s flighty and flirtatious mother who took up playwriting because a typewriter was delivered to the house eight years before on accident. Nick Salazar is the easygoing, slow-moving, and slow-talking Donald, and filling in for Shannon Fitzpatrick on the night I went was Danae Goward in a hilarious performance as Rheba, a Donald admirer and the family’s maid, whose expressions of unadulterated love and unadulterated jealousy were a hoot throughout. Curtis Pfahler as the charming Mr. De Pinna, Kylie Young as the drunken actress Gay Wellington (who becomes Essie’s Barbie doll), Katy Habib as the regal Russian Grand Duchess Olga now employed as a communist-hating waitress, Wesley Leves as a melodramatic IRS agent and Gordon Fitzgerald as an equally melodramatic, old-time G-man (or J-man, as Alice’s mother says) all turn in great character performances, while Dan Thale and May Wheeler provide the straight, stuffy, and snooty parents of Tony Kirby.

With a few added touches like the insanely long train on Olga’s dress that ties up everyone in the room, holding family prayers by grabbing hands and flinging their heads back to look up to the heavens, a dinner of Twinkies dusted with a generous amount of powdered sugar, and a big to-do with Grandpa’s big line “You can’t take it with you,” its clear that this group had a lot of fun putting this production together, as it was also clear the audience had fun watching it.

Performs through February 26, 2005.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Grandpa Vanderhof: Richard Mayer / Jonathon Smith
Penelope Sycamore: Gina Goodman
Paul Sycamore: Rusty Emmons / Adam Lawrence
Essie Carmichael: Rickie Hendrickson
Ed Carmichael: Linden Melvin
Alice Sycamore: Amanda Maples
Rheba: Shannon Fitzpatrick / Danae Goward
Donald: Nick Salazar
Ms. Kolenkhov: Danielle Holbach
Mr. De Pinna: Curtis Pfahler
Tony Kirby: Matt Rose
Mr. Kirby: Dan Thale
Mrs. Kirby: May Wheeler / Brianne Pacheco
Henderson: Wesley Leves
Gay Wellington: Kylie Young
Three Agents: Gordon Fitzgerald, Stephanie Santillian, Paris Cavender
Grand Duchess Olga Katrina: Katy Habib

Director: Jim Chatham
Assistant Director: Mr. Gordon Fitzgerald
Stage Manager: Barbara Keeler
Light and Sound Design: John Crain, Cory Clanin
Costume Design: Danae Goward, Dylan Mian


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