Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The final show of Community Players 96th season is “You Can’t Take It With You”, a 1937 Pulitzer prize winning comedy by Moss Hart and George F. Kaufman. Meet the Sycamore family, a collection of lovable eccentric incompetents who keep a printing press in the parlor, manufacture fireworks in the basement, are friends with an Ex-Grand Duchess, and includes a grandfather who doesn’t believe in paying taxes. When daughter, Alice falls in love with straight laced Tony Kirby and invites his conservative, high society parents to dinner, she orders her family to ”ordinary up”, which means act like normal people. As with most things in this wacky family, things don’t go exactly as planned. The important message is to live in the here and now, live life to the fullest and do whatever makes you happy. Director Patricia Hawkridge casts this huge show wonderfully. It is a positive and light hearted show that is definitely needed in these trying times we are living through now.
Pat has a keen eye for comic situations and gives her performers their moment to shine in this show. The gags land beautifully, the shtick is funny and her comic routines produce the necessary laughter. Act 1 pacing needs to be picked up to keep the information flowing along more smoothly. The Sycamore family and friends include cheerful snake charmers, fireworks artisans, musicians, wanna be dancers, artistes, chefs and free thinkers. Three generations of the family live together in harmony. They are cheerful amidst the Great Depression swirling around them. The only flies in the ointment seem to be the boy’s rich straight laced parents who are aghast at the Bohemian antics swirling around them during their visit. How this wacky, wild and crazy family handle them leads to a great deal of laughter and merriment.
Since it is a 19 member cast, I’ll only be able to mention a few of the performers. The biggest scene stealers are Richard Griffin as the tax man in Act 1, Laura Benjamin as Gay Wellington, the drunken actress in Act 2 who leaves the audience in stitches and Lee Rush as Countess Olga in Act 3. Brian Mulvey tackles the huge role of the Grandfather who doesn’t want to pay income tax. Carol Varden as Penny the mother makes her into comic whirlwind who ushers these eccentric folks to and fro while she types her different plays and tries to return to her painting. The word game she conducts in Act 2 is hilarious.<P>
Ashley Lopes shines as Alice, the normal daughter who is in love with the boss’ son. Her acting is impeccable and delivers a heartfelt scene in the last act. Leslie Racine Vazquez is a hoot as the candy making, wanna be ballerina daughter, Essie who is a terrible dancer while Ron Martin is hilarious as her xylophone playing husband who likes to write notes in the candy he delivers. Other comic characters include Marc Tiberiis as the Russian ballet master who yells at Essie, puts Mr. Kirby in a headlock and brings the Countess Olga to the house. I have fond memories of this show, having played Donald back when Community Players did it back in 1995. So for a fun filled trip back in time, be sure to catch the crazy antics of “You Can’t Take It With You” at Community Players.
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU(7 to 16 July)
Community Players, Jenks Auditorium, 350 Division Street, Pawtucket, RI
1(401)726-6860 or www.thecommunityplayers.net