Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 51
PCPA The Pacific Conservatory Theatre delights with 'You Can't Take It With You'
By HELEN ANN THOMAS
The highly entertaining You Can’t Take It With You, now showing at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA), takes us into the seriously unconventional Vanderhof-Sycamore household in New York City, circa the 1930s. The audience plays witness to a whirlwind of wacky onstage antics as a parade of quirky people interacts.
In a nutshell—pardon the pun—this comedy is a celebration of eccentricity. It is about people who dance—literally and figuratively—to a different drummer. The residents of the house are free spirits who indulge their creative selves. The play is about how the characters go about doing what is important to them, like making fireworks in the basement, playing the xylophone, and practicing ballet moves. The least eccentric of the lot, Alice Sycamore (Madison Shaheen), deals with a marriage proposal from a relatively normal young man, Tony Kirby (Chad Sommerville), whose strait-laced, upper-crust parents, she fears (and justly so), may not appreciate her family.
Family patriarch Grandpa Martin Vanderhof (Peter Hadres) keeps snakes, plays darts, and believes that you should have fun in life, and that gainful employment is an option that should not be taken seriously. A visit from an IRS agent (Myles Romo), who tells Grandpa that he has not paid taxes for years, leaves Grandpa nonplussed.
Vanderhof’s daughter Penelope Sycamore (Polly Firestone Walker) writes plays and paints, and is the mother of Alice and Essie (Karin Hendricks), an aspiring ballerina who takes dance lessons from Boris Kolenkhov (Andrew Philpot), who is obsessed with the Russian Revolution. He brings the Grand Duchess Olga (Maya Sherer), currently working as a waitress, into the family circle.
Essie is married to Ed (George Walker), who delivers candy that Essie makes. He includes messages printed on his printing press with the candy. He is oblivious to the fact that the messages could be misconstrued as anarchistic. Dead certain that someone is following him, Ed’s suspicions are proven well founded in the second act, when the stash of gunpowder in the basement does little for his argument of innocence.
Penelope Sycamore is married to Paul (Don Stewart), who is the one making fireworks in the basement with Sycamore’s former ice man, Mr. De Pinna (Tyler Campbell), who once came to the house and never left. The fireworks occasionally go off, sending wafts of smoke up from under the basement door. The stockpile of gunpowder in the basement fires up a lot of laughs and gets the family—and everyone else—in trouble with the Feds, (who have been following Ed) in the second act.
The cast is large, including 19, and well orchestrated. Hadres seems to relish his role as Martin Vanderhof, eccentric-in-chief. Firestone Walker does a fine job as Grandpa’s daughter, an example of an apple that has not fallen far from the tree.
Walker as Ed, the deliverer of his wife’s confections (with the seemingly seditious notes) is charming. In a minor role as Gay Wellington, Katie Wachowski garners laughs and applause with her ascent up a staircase in an inebriated state.
Carroll (Mr. Kirby) does upper-crust Wall Street very well. Kitty Balay (Mrs. Kirby) delivers a solid performance as well. Philpot’s Kolenkhov role was convincing as a 1920s/1930s revolutionary and did a good job of pinning Mr. Kirby in an impromptu wrestling move that did little to cement relations between the families of the about-to-be engaged couple.
Director Roger DeLaurier keeps the action moving and the laughs coming. All events take place in the living/dining room, engagingly designed by Jason Bolen. The costume designer is Eddy L. Barrows. Tim Thistleton and Andrew Mark Wilhelm are, respectively, the designers of lighting and sound.
You Can’t Take It With You is one of several successful Broadway plays written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The play has a distinguished history: It won a Pulitzer Prize, and when made into a Frank Capra film in 1938, won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.
PCPA’s You Can’t Take It With You will surely brighten your outlook.
Contributor Helen Ann Thomas always has a bright outlook at the theater. Contact her via Managing Editor Joe Payne at email@example.com.
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