Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Castaways Repertory Theatre You Can’t Take It with You

By • Feb 12th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
You Can’t Take It with You
Castaways Repertory Theatre
AJ Ferlazzo Building, Woodbridge, VA
$14/$11 Seniors and Students/$10 Matinee
Playing through February 21st
Reviewed February 7, 2009

Castaways Repertory Theatre is putting on an old classic, You Can’t Take It with You. Most people are shocked to find that this play won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937…it’s a little on the corny side, without notable dialogue or exciting theatrics. But it DID lift the spirits of a nation recovering from the Great Depression. And in the theatre last night, the same feelings of joy were spreading through the crowd in our own hard times, faces radiant with an inner peace.

The storyline is simple. Alice Sycamore (Mari Davis) has found the man of her dreams. Tony Kirby (Eric Worcester) is the boss’ son, from a posh, prominent, and most importantly, normal family. She is loathe to introduce them to her family, the most lovable and eccentric people you’ll ever meet. There’s Grandpa, the businessman who hasn’t gone to work in 35 years and spends his days at graduation ceremonies and circuses. Alice’s mother, Penny (Karin Rosnizeck), finds a career in every new thing suggested to her. Paul (John McCracken), Alice’s father, creates fireworks in their basement. And then there’s Alice’s sister Essie (Britt Fucito) the candymaker/aspiring ballerina and her husband Ed (Matt Williams)…who plays the xylophone and prints material for the bottom of Essie’s candy boxes.

Let’s not forget the colorful characters who visit the Sycamore house once and simply never leave…and you begin to see Alice’s dilemma. But of course, the inevitable meeting must happen, and bedlam ensues. There are political undercurrents that garnered more than a few laughs due to current affairs.

The Sycamores might be a little more over the top than most people you know, but it’s an age old dilemma. Who hasn’t been embarrassed by their family or friends at some point in their life?

Castaways has done an admirable job with show. They have a good and practical set (Katherine Biscula & Gavin Tameris), eye-catching costumes (Zina Bleck), and well-done sound design (Lynn Lacey).

Most of the actors do their roles very well, each bringing something unique and special to the part. Rosnizeck, a non-native English speaker, manages to find just the right amount of ditz and charm for Penny and never misses a joke. Fucito is more graceful than Essie should be but her adorably clueless delivery is spot on. Tameris as Mr. DePinna is operating on a completely different planet and it’s hilarious. Worcester’s role as straight man Tony is a challenge for most actors, but his genuine and earnest portrayal is endearing. The Kirbys (Troy Caver & Kathy Gurchiek) are curmudgeonly and thoroughly memorable, and Caver is heavily channeling Jimmy Stewart to our full delight. Sallie Willows as Gay Wellington gives us a fun and terrific cameo of the staggeringly drunk local actress.

First time director Biscula has done a solid job with casting, and Acts I and II move swiftly. Act III is a little on the slow side, but the pictures of chaos constantly created are perfect.

Come spend a few hours with the Sycamores…they’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you grateful for the relative normalcy of your own family, and most importantly, they’ll provide an escape from the dreary headlines of today.

*A special note…my husband and I met 3.5 years ago playing Alice & Tony in a McLean production of YCTIWY. Last night was a bona fide walk down memory lane!

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2 Responses »

  1. I received an email from someone that attended the closing night performance of You Can’t Take It With You. Apparently the cast took some creative liberties on closing night, plus the reader disagreed with some of the decisions made by the director.

    I had to endure this show on Saturday night and when I left the theater I was actually angry! There was but one, maybe two redeeming elements of this production and unfortuately, Sallie Willows couldn’t play all of the characters. The details of this show were completely missed. The costumes were horrific- what era were they playing this show? It was a mish-mash of clothing out of everyone’s closet. This is a period piece- circa 1930’s and it should have been indicated by the costumes- suspenders could have been used instead of belts, at the very least. This show takes place in the summer in New York. Why in the world would anyone were a fur stole? That is the question I had for the poor woman playing Mrs. Kirby. The woman playing Alice, the romantic lead, was sporting a beatuful French manicure and pedicure and it was extremely distracting, especially since she was a hand flailer! One of the agents at the end of the show was not wearing socks! Many of the women were wearing black PATENT LEATHER high heeled pumps! In 1930? I don’t think so. The actor playing the father came up from the “basement” in GREEN JOCKEY SHORTS! Really? In 1930? How hard would it have been to get the man a pair of boxers? It’s not hard to Google “1930’s hair/makeup/clothing/shoe styles.” The set dressing was sloppy and lazy. The direction and acting were very much the same. Who references Martha Stewart in 1930? Apparently this cast and it was utterly ridiculous. Blocking was another issue all unto itself. Siteline issues abounded, actor traffic jams were still happening on closing night and there was absolutely no connection at all between the characters. The poor woman playing Essie, was trying, bless her heart, but she had very little to work with.

    I understand financial and spacial constraints, I do, but there was absolutely NO excuse for the mess I witnessed during this production! I will never get those three hours of my life back.

    This comment shows some of the issues that occurs with reviewing live theater: (1) Shows change. Apparently this production was not performed as well on closing night as it was on opening weekend. (2) One person’s opinion of a show is not the definitive word on the quality of a show. McCall’s opinion in this case, or the commenter’s opinion, or my review of some other show, is not the final word on the quality of a production.

  2. Hi…the elements mentioned in the email (green jockey shorts, French manicure, etc.) were definitely not there on the performance night that I reviewed. I will mention that en route to the theatre a few weeks ago, when the weather was 74 degrees, I saw two patrons in full length mink coats…fur pieces are often status symbols and Mrs. Kirby would be totally appropriate wearing one even in the summer.

    Every performance is different, as Mike noted. CRT’s production was far from perfect but the cast made it an enjoyable night (I tend to be a tough critic but even I had to smile and have a good time) and the audience thoroughly enjoyed it. Smiles on every face, no one walking out at intermission (which I have witnessed a LOT over the years), and thunderous applause. And it was not filled with cast family members, either.

    CRT has very limited resources. Their costumes aren’t as good as the ones routinely done at Silver Spring Stage or Little Theatre of Alexandria, but they do what they can. I take that into consideration when reviewing a play.

    One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it, but I stand by my review.