- About the Play
- Behind the Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Audience Guide
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Hart and Kaufman - The Comedic Dream Team
by Lauren Shouse, Dramaturgy Consultant
Like so many wide-eyed aspiring theatre artists, I read Moss Hart's memoir Act One in my early 20s. The infectious narrative chronicles Hart's rise from an impoverished childhood in New York City to his first job as a producer's office errand boy to his wide sweeping Broadway playwriting success. The memoir offers a spirited American hope that we see in You Can't Take It With You as it promotes the belief that anyone can follow their passion to pursue a career doing what they love. It just takes a little hard work, luck and stamina. And in Hart's case a meeting with a famous collaborator by the name of George S. Kaufmann.
In 1929, Hart wrote a draft of a play that caught the attention of Broadway producer Sam Harris, who suggested that Hart collaborate with the established Kaufman to mount the comedic production. Kaufman was known in Broadway circles as "The Great Collaborator" having worked with sixteen writers, including Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Ring Lardner. At the time, Kaufman's biggest success was Of Thee I Sing, written with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin.
Hart jumped at the chance to work with one of the most successful playwrights in the country. The pair immediately connected over comedy, their Jewish upbringings, and their similar personalities. This first collaboration turned out Once in a Lifetime. On its opening in September 1930, it became one of the greatest successes of its time. Hart sprang overnight from oblivion to being one of the brightest stars of the Broadway inner circle. It put the team of Kaufman and Hart on a pedestal in the theatrical hall of fame.
Over the next ten years the comedic dream team wrote seven other shows together: Merrily We Roll Along (1934), You Can't Take It with You (1936), I'd Rather Be Right (1937), The Fabulous Invalid (1938), The American Way (1939), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939), and George Washington Slept Here (1940). Despite being fifteen years his senior, Kaufman respected Hart and regarded him as an equal. He gave Hart top billing on many of their productions, including You Can't Take It With You, because it was his rule to credit the originator of each play's concept.
In 1940, Hart chose to break from Kaufman. He wanted to prove to himself that he could be successful without a collaborator. The split was amicable, and the two remained close friends. In 1941, Hart wrote the book for the musical comedy Lady in the Dark. He went on to author a number of other plays, including Winged Victory (1943), Christopher Blake (1947), and Light Up the Sky (1949). None of Hart's solo efforts achieved the success of his work with Kaufman. In addition to his playwriting accolades, Kaufman went on to success as a director, winning a Tony Award for Guys and Dolls in 1950.
Kaufman and Hart died in the same year, 1961, Kaufman at age 71 and Hart at only 57. Hart famously gave the eulogy at Kaufman's funeral, and he dedicated much of Act One to Kaufman's role in launching his career. Hart and Kaufman are commemorated with other collaborative pairs such as Rodgers and Hart, Lerner and Lowe, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Gilbert and Sullivan as an important part of the tradition of 20th century Broadway collaborators.
BRAD ARMACOST (Paul Sycamore) returns to Northlight (Benefactors, A Life) and is an Artistic Associate with Irish Theatre of Chicago (2014 Jeff Award - Ensemble, Seafarer, as well as nominations for The Weir and Moon for the Misbegotten). Elsewhere in Chicago: Steppenwolf (Jeff Award - Faith Healer), Goodman, Next (Jeff Award - Are You Now...) and Chicago Shakespeare (Jeff Award - Madness of King George). He is also part of Provision's ensemble, receiving Jeff nominations for his work in A Christmas Carol, CS Lewis, Onstage and Shadowlands. His television credits include Empire, Chicago Fire, Mind Games, Missing Persons, The Untouchables and Early Edition. Film credits: Warren, The Company, Barbershop 2, Repetition, Eight Men Out and Backwoods. He guest narrates with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
JENNY AVERY (Miriam Kirby) is thrilled to be making her Northlight debut. Jenny has worked at a number of theaters in Chicago, including Steppenwolf (Annie Bosch is Missing), Writers (Puppetmaster of Wodz, Duchess of Malfi), Victory Gardens (Four Places, Class Dismissed), Next (Compulsion, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, Maple and Vine, Long Christmas Ride Home), Chicago Dramatists (Feast), American Theater Company (American Dead, Living Out), About Face (Cloud 9, Undone), Collaboraction (Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild, Apocalyptic Butterflies) and Strawdog (Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, Aristocrats). She will be seen this winter in Richard III at Gift.
BERNIE BALBOT (Tony Kirby) Chicago credits include: She Loves Me (Writers); A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Parks, Short Shakespeare! Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare); We Are Proud to Present a Presentation... (Victory Gardens); Rich and Famous (Jackalope); The Original Grease, Yeast Nation, It's a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play (American Theater Company) and A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane). Regional credits include: American Conservatory, Asolo Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Utah Shakespeare, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre and Hangar Theatre. TV/Film: Chicago Fire, Warrior. Bernie is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama and NTI's Moscow Art Theatre Program. Up next: Of Mice and Men at Milwaukee Repertory/Arizona Theatre Company.
LUCY CARAPETYAN (Alice Sycamore) is happy to make her Northlight debut and to work again with Ms. de Mayo. Credits include: Animal Farm, The Crucible (Steppenwolf); The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, The Hollowlands, Breathing Corpses (Steep); Woman in White, Wuthering Heights (Lifeline); On The Shore of the Wide World, Stage Door (Griffin); Roadkill Confidential (Dog & Pony); The Oxford Roofclimber's Rebellion (Caffeine); The Magnificents, Rose and the Rime, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds (House); American Storm (Theatre Seven); Twelfth Night (Oak Park); Ring Cycle (Building Stage); Look Back in Anger (Redtwist); A Midsummer Nights Dream, As You Like It (Two Pence). Lucy is a company member with Steep and Two Pence, and on staff at Actors Gymnasium. She is a Northwestern graduate and is represented by Paonessa Talent.
PATRICK CLEAR (Anthony Kirby) returns to Northlight where he has been seen in The Mousetrap, The Miser, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Pride and Prejudice. He has appeared in more than 60 productions in the Chicago area, including Henry V (Chicago Shakespeare), Port Authority (Writers), Meet Vera Stark and Teddy Ferrara (Goodman), The March (Steppenwolf) and Seascape (Remy Bumppo). His regional credits include appearances at Hartford Stage, Asolo Repertory, Indiana Repertory, Cleveland Playhouse, Maltz Jupiter, Arena Stage, Guthrie, American Shakespeare, Centerstage, Huntington and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He appeared on Broadway in Noises Off and Hollywood Arms. Film and television credits include The Dark Knight, Chicago PD, Boss, The Untouchables and Early Edition.
JOANNE DUBACH (Essie Carmichael) has worked onstage with Lookingglass, Jackalope, Silent Theatre Company and Chicago Dramatists, where she is also an artistic associate. She has also worked regionally at Phoenix Theatre Inc. Joanne was Jeff-nominated for her performance in The Glass Menagerie with Mary-Arrchie and was awarded the Jack Springer Award for her performance in A Life at Northlight. She has her B.A. in Theatre and Drama from Indiana University and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf.
SEAN FORTUNATO (Boris Kolenkhov) Credits include: The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler, The Real Thing, Travels With My Aunt, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Writers); Rene Gallimard in M. Butterfly (Court); Measure for Measure (Goodman); Detective Cioffi in Curtains (Drury Lane); over 20 productions with Chicago Shakespeare and work at Timeline, Marriott, Theatre at the Center, Remy Bumppo, About Face, Intiman (WA), Old Globe (CA), The Duke on 42nd (NY) and twelve seasons with Peninsula Players (WI), where he played George in Sunday in the Park with George. TV/Film: Chicago PD and The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton. Sean has received four Joseph Jefferson nominations and an After Dark Award. Next: 2666 (Goodman) and Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf (Writers).
KROYDELL GALIMA (G-Man 3) is happy to be working with Northlight for the first time. He has worked all over Chicago's stages including TimeLine's Concerning Strange Devices From the Distant West directed by Lisa Portes, Silk Road's The Hundred Flowers Project directed by Joanie Schultz, Adventure Stage Chicago, Victory Gardens, understudied for Lookingglass's world premiere of Keith Huff's Big Lake Big City directed by David Schwimmer and most recently closed the Chicago premiere of In Love and Warcraft with Halcyon. He has also co-starred in an episode of Chicago Fire. He holds a B.F.A in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. He would like to thank his friends, family and everyone at Gray Talent Group for their continued love and support.
|TOM HICKEY (Wilbur Henderson/G-Man 1) is pleased to be working with Northlight for the first time. He has been a member of Strawdog Theatre Company for a loooong time, appearing in over two dozen productions including Fail/Safe, Conquest of the South Pole, Master and Margarita, Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, Aristocrats, Detective Story and Julius Caesar. Other shows in Chicago include Macbeth (Artistic Home), Seminar (Haven), Killer Angels (Lifeline), Dirty (Gift), North Plan (Theatre Wit and Steppenwolf First Look), Pillowman (RedTwist) and Thieves Like Us (House). Television credits: Underemployed, Chicago PD, Betrayal and Crisis. He is represented by Gray Talent Group and wants to send all of his love to his wife, the lovely Rita Vreeland and their crazy, smart kiddo Charlie.|
|JOHN JUDD (Martin Vanderhof) returns to Northlight where he appeared in The Cripple of Inishmaan and The Lieutenant of Innishmore. Chicago credits include: Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Writers, Court, Lookingglass, Shattered Globe, A Red Orchid, About Face, Next, Profiles, Victory Gardens, Fox Theatricals, The Journeymen and Irish Repertory of Chicago. New York: BAM, Barrow Street and 59E59. Regional and international: Actors Theatre Of Louisville, Philadelphia Theatre Company, City Theatre (Pittsburgh), Old Globe (San Diego), McCarter (Princeton), Huntington (Boston), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Westport Country Playhouse, BeaverCreek Theatre Festival and Town Hall Theatre (Galway, Ireland). Film credits include: Public Enemies, Batman Begins, Mr. 3000, Road to Perdition, Ride with the Devil, Losing Isaiah and Hoffa. TV credits include: Chicago PD, Boss, Chicago Code, Prison Break, ER and Early Edition.|
|ANDY NAGRAJ (Ed Carmichael) is thrilled to be making his debut at Northlight. A recent Chicago transplant, his regional stage credits include Milwaukee Repertory, Court, Silk Road Rising, TimeLine and the Utah, Texas, Ohio and Virginia Shakespeare Festivals. TV: Chicago Fire. Andy is also the co-author of the musical comedy Murphy's Law, which will receive its world premiere this spring at Pittsburgh's Strand Theatre, and he has served on the theatre faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. Many thanks to Devon, Lynn and Stewart Talent, and lots of love to Liz.|
|KEITH NEAGLE (Mr. De Pinna) returns to Northlight after appearing last season in The Mousetrap. An ensemble member with Gift, he will appear in their upcoming production of Richard III. Previous productions with Gift include Othello and Night and Her Stars. Other recent Chicago credits include: Harry & the Thief, Breaks & Bikes, Girl You Know It's True, punkplay, Fracture/Mechanics, Arrangements and Lipstick Traces (Pavement Group); The Birds (Griffin); Travesties (Remy Bumppo); Seminar (Haven); Orange Flower Water (Interrobang); Sweet Confinement (SiNNERMAN); We Live Here and Yes, This Really Happened to Me (Theatre Seven); Sweet Bird of Youth (Artistic Home); The Pigeons (Walkabout); and Everything Freezes: another winter's tale (Sideshow). Keith is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the School at Steppenwolf, and is represented by Actors Talent Group. For Cyd, always.|
|COLM O'REILLY (G-Man 2) is a company member of Theater Oobleck, with whom he's appeared in Song About Himself, There is a Happiness that Morning Is (NYC and Chicago), An Apology for the Course & Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening, The Strangerer (NYC and Chicago), Letter Purloined, The Hunchback Variations and Spirits to Enforce. Other credits include Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman); Trevor (A Red Orchid); Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf); Elevator Tours (Barrie Cole); Still in Play, The Caretaker, Waiting for Godot, Love Horse (Curious Theatre Branch); The Cabinet (Redmoon). He also played Stanislavski #1 in Mickle Maher's An Actor Prepares at the University of Chicago. He is the recipient of 3 Orgie Theater Awards.|
|ERICKA RATCLIFF (Rheba) Credits include: Marie Antoinette (Steppenwolf); Black Diamond: The Year the Locusts Have Eaten, Around the World in 80 Days, Peter Pan A Play (Lookingglass); The Nutcracker, Rose and the Rime (House); Court Martial at Fort Devens (Victory Gardens); Sketchbook (Collaboraction); Ruined (Mixed Blood); Raisin in the Sun (Milwaukee Repertory); Seven Guitars (Pittsburgh Playwrights); Funk It Up About Nothin and Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare); Stickfly, African Company Presents Richard III, Talented Tenth, The Colored Museum, 365 Plays/365 Days and Bulrusher with Congo Square, where she is also an ensemble member. She is a graduate of The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt University. Thank you, Devon! Thank you, Lynn!|
|HOLLIS RESNIK (Gay Wellington/ Grand Duchess Olga Katrina) is happy to return to Northlight after having been seen as Big/Little Edie in Grey Gardens, The Immigrant and Enter the Guardsman. She was last seen as Miriam in Court's The Good Book. National tours: Les Miseables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Sister Act. Recipient of the 2012 Lunt/Fontaine Fellowship, several Jeff awards, 2 Sarah Siddons Awards and a Helen Hayes Award. Hollis is a proud member of Actors Equity.|
|SAMUEL ROBERSON (Donald) is the Artistic Director of Congo Square and a Howard University alum. He is the recipient of a 3Arts Award and is a TCG Young Leader of Color. Roberson most recently directed Twisted Melodies at Congo Square. Other directing credits include The Last Cadillac and The Last Hand. He also assisted on Bulrusher and Twelve Angry Men. Chicago acting credits include: Samuel J and K (Steppenwolf), Civil War Christmas (Northlight), The Colored Museum and Sanctified (Congo Square), Living Green and The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens) and The Ballad of Emmett Till (Goodman). Other acting credits: Penumbra, Children's Theatre Company, Pillsbury House, Illusion, Imagination Stage, Source and Studio. He has taught with Victory Gardens, Congo Square, Steppenwolf, American Theatre Company, 16th Street and Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis. He thanks his wife Ashley, family and friends for their support.|
|PENNY SLUSHER (Penelope Sycamore) last appeared at Northlight in Chapatti. Other productions here include Sense & Sensibility and A Life. Chicago credits include: Sweet Bird of Youth with Diane Lane (Goodman); Uncle Vanya (After Dark Award), The Importance of Being Earnest, James Joyce's "The Dead" (Court); Old Glory, Another Part of the Forest (Jeff Award), Bus Stop, The Subject Was Roses (Writers). Regional: My Fair Lady (Asolo Repertory), Sense & Sensibility (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Saint Louis Repertory). International Theatre: Chapatti and Stella & Lou (Northlight at Galway International Arts Festival, Ireland), August: Osage County (Steppenwolf at Sydney Theatre, Australia). Film: Virginia, Meet the Browns, Grace is Gone. Television: The Connie Banks Show.|
DEVON DE MAYO (Director) is thrilled to return to Northlight after directing Lost in Yonkers and formerly serving as the theatre's Director of Education. Most recently, Devon worked as the Resident Director under Stephen Daldry on the Tony-winning Broadway production of The Audience. Directing credits: Jet Black Chevrolet (side project); Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated (Next); An Actor Prepares (Logan Center); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Clouds (Dog & Pony); Infiltrating Bounce (Luminaria, San Antonio); and 52 (Canal Café, London). Directing & devising credits: Guerra: A Clown Play (performances in Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Madrid, Bogota, and Mexico City); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony), and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony, Steppenwolf Garage Rep). She is the co-artistic director of Dog & Pony Theatre and received her MFA from Middlesex University in London. Love to JC & Albie.
COURTNEY O'NEILL (Scenic Design) is excited to be working with Northlight for the first time. Design credits include Moby Dick and The Little Prince (Lookingglass), Life and Limb and Of Mice and Men (Steppenwolf), Waiting for Godot (Court), The Amish Project and Song Man Dance Man (Milwaukee Repertory), Fetch Clay Make Man (Marin and Round House), When I Come to Die (Kansas City Repertory), The Mountaintop (Virginia Stage), Our Town and Mud (Hypocrites), Good for Otto, Bethany and Dirty (Gift), among others. She was the associate designer for Fish in the Dark and This is our Youth on Broadway. Courtney received a Jeff Award for Mud. She holds an MFA from Northwestern and a BFA from DePaul University, where she currently teaches. courtneyoneill.com
IZUMI INABA (Costume Design) is thrilled to be at Northlight again after working on The Mousetrap and their production of Charm presented at the Steppenwolf Garage. Her recent design credits include Feast (Albany Park Theatre Project), Don Chipotle (terraNOVA Collective), The Revel (The House), Miss Buncle's Book (Lifeline) and Cheats (Steep). She is a resident costume designer at Albany Park Theatre Project and a company member at Red Tape. She has received two non-equity Jeff Awards and the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award, and has her MFA in Stage Design from Northwestern University.
HEATHER GILBERT (Lighting Design) Ms. Gilbert's lighting designs have been seen on many Chicago stages including Hypocrites, Goodman, Court, Steppenwolf, Steep, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, Chicago Children's Theatre, Writers, Timeline, About Face and countless storefronts all over the city. Regional credits include Oregon Shakespeare, American Repertory, Kansas City Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Huntington, Williamstown, Alley, Berkeley Repertory and Actors Theatre of Louisville. International credits include Almeida in London and Singapore Repertory. Heather was a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Grant and the 3Arts Award. Heather serves as the Head of Lighting Design at Columbia College Chicago, and received her MFA at the Theatre School at DePaul. She is a member of The Hypocrites community.
KEVIN O'DONNELL (Original Music and Sound Design) is thrilled to be back at Northlight, where he previously designed The Lady with all the Answers and Inherit the Wind. He has been working in Chicago theater for the past 12 years, being nominated for a Jeff every season he has worked, resulting in over 20 nominations and 10 awards. Regionally his work has been heard at Berkeley Repertory, ART, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arscht Center of Miami, ACT, Baltimore CenterStage and 59E59, Cherry Lane, Signature and St Anne's Warehouse in New York. Chicago credits include Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass and many others. He is also a drummer.
KIMBERLY ANN MCCANN (Production Stage Manager) is thrilled to be returning to Northlight. Chicago credits: Rapture, Blister, Burn at Goodman and Million Dollar Quartet at Apollo. Broadway: Curtains. Off- Broadway credits: Bill W. and Dr. Bob, How to Save the World, John Ferguson. Regional: Tuacahn Center for the Arts, Skylight Music Theatre and Milwaukee Repertory. Other credits include: Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and numerous productions at The Julliard School. Kimberly is a graduate of Illinois State University and a proud member of Actors Equity.
KATIE KLEMME (Assistant Stage Manager) is pleased to be working with Northlight for the first time. Recent credits include Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight (Windy City Playhouse); The Project(s) (world premiere), Let Me Down Easy, Mercy Strain, columbinus (Boston & Chicago), Rent and Disgraced (world premiere, 2013 Pulitzer Prize), among many others over the past seven seasons as a resident stage manager at American Theater Company; Mr. Burns-a post electric play, Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Las Vegas & Chicago) and The Santaland Diaries all at Theater Wit; Saudade: Dreams & Longing (Music Theatre Company); The Pride (About Face). Katie is on faculty at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches stage management.
MOSS HART (Playwright, 1904-1961) was an award-winning and commercially successful playwright, collaborating with fellow writer George S. Kaufman on works like Once in a Lifetime, Merrily We Roll Along, The Man Who Came to Dinner, The Fabulous Invalid, George Washington Slept Here and the Pulitzer Prize-winning You Can't Take It With You. Also a stage director and film screenwriter, Hart won the Tony Award as the director of My Fair Lady, directed the original Broadway production of Camelot, and penned the Judy Garland classic A Star Is Born.
GEORGE S. KAUFMAN (Playwright, 1889 - 1961) was an American playwright, theatre director and producer, humorist and drama critic. Best known works include: The Royal Family, Dinner at Eight and Stage Door co-written with Edna Ferber; Merrily We Roll Along, You Can't Take It With You (Pulitzer Prize) and The Man Who Came to Dinner with Moss Hart; the Marx Brothers musicals The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers with Morrie Ryskind; and Of Thee I Sing! (Pulitzer Prize) with Ryskind and George and Ira Gershwin. He also won the Tony Award as a director for the musical Guys and Dolls.
Production photos by Michael Brosilow below, or view rehearsal and set construction photos.
Photo GalleryClick on any image to start the slideshow
You Can't Take It With You
You Can't Take It With You a delight at Northlight
3 1/2 STARS
By SCOTT C. MORGAN
You Can't Take It With You has endured through the decades, and Northlight Theatre's hilarious revival in Skokie shows why.
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1936 comedy is chock-full of lovably eccentric characters who would easily fit into any modern-day TV sitcom. Also still relevant are the show's heartwarming messages about family, creativity and the precious brevity of life.
Director Devon De Mayo's sometimes unconventional casting makes Northlight's production a delight throughout. Anyone familiar with the play through amateur productions will marvel at how much better professionals can be at finessing and consistently delivering the comic material to prod audiences into gales of laughter.
You Can't Take It With You at Northlight Theatre/Review
By SUZANNE SCANLON
Even if it’s nostalgia that helps keep the play alive, this Northlight Theatre revival is a surprisingly fresh production, featuring a huge cast of characters whose various eccentricities are orchestrated with elegance by Devon de Mayo. “You can’t take it with you,” the patriarch of the Sycamores reminds his counterpart Anthony P. Kirby, a wealthy Wall Street stiff, and while sure, it’s cliched, it's not overstated. And from dance-obsessed Essie (Joanne Dubach) to painter-turned-playwright Penelope Sycamore (Penny Slusher) to Boris Kolenkhov (Sean Fortunato), the Russian ballet master, there isn’t an actor here who doesn’t delight.
Northlight revives You Can't Take It With You with gusto
By JODIE JACOBS
A funny thing happens on the way to the second act of You Can't Take It With You, now at Northlight Theatre through Dec. 13, 2015.
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's comedy about the nutty Vanderhoff-Sycamore family during the Great Depression at first seems dated. Certainly in theater terms it's a very old "chestnut."
Then, when Wilber Henderson, an Internal Revenue agent explains to Grandpa Vanderhoff that he has to pay income tax to pay for the President, Supreme Court and Congress, you hear Grandpa say "Not with my money."
Hmm. It sounds familiar to some sentiments still expressed in the 21st century ...
Maybe this comedy which took the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1938, really should be looked at again. Fortunately, Northlight Theatre brings the play back to life with fine direction by Devon de Mayo and outstanding actors.
You Can't Take It With You review - A fun and thoughtful show
By JESSIE BOND
Continuing its 41st season, Northlight Theatre presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy You Can’t Take It With You, directed by Devon de Mayo. Quirky and touching, this story of the wacky Sycamore family’s attempts to connect with the straight-laced Kirbys is both entertaining and meaningful.
You Can’t Take It With You is absolutely an ensemble show, and Northlight has chosen an excellent ensemble for its purposes. Highlights among the actors include Joanne Dubach, who plays absentminded aspiring dancer Essie with a blend of sincerity, sweetness, and awkward charm that makes her a delight to watch. Ericka Ratcliff and Samuel Robertson, who play Rheba and Donald, respectively, bring a vibrant and engaging dynamic to their characters’ relationship and to the stage in general. Finally, John Judd must be complimented for his masterful portrayal of family patriarch Martin Vanderhof, whose clever antics to avoid the IRS are at the comedic heart of the play and whose soft-spoken discussion about the purpose of life with Mr. Kirby at the end of the show holds the play’s philosophical center.
Enthusiasm of eccentric Sycamore clan hard to resist
By CATEY SULLIVAN
When Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman penned You Can't Take It With You, they came up with a plot that paved the way for everything from The Addams Family to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Take a family of eccentrics and insert a "normal" group in their midst. And make sure that if the eccentrics fail to pass muster with the normals, dire consequences will ensue.
For the Pulitzer Prize-winning, 1936 drama You Can't Take it With You, the loveable crazy people are all members of the Sycamore family. When daughter Alice (Lucy Carapetyan) brings home her buttoned-up boyfriend (Bernie Balbot) and his snooty high society parents (Patrick Clear, Jennifer Avery) for dinner, the evening explodes out of control. Alice wants to impress her future in-laws with her suitability, but Alice's family isn't exactly a bastion of Wasp propriety.
Opening this week at Skokie's Northlight Theatre, You Can't Take it With You is a rom-com that celebrates not just the young lovebirds but also the zany, individualistic Sycamore clan.
Winter cultural preview - The upcoming season's must-see theater
CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS
By ANNE SPISELMAN
You Can't Take It With You: Eccentric doesn't begin to describe the extended family in George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, and with an all-star cast that includes Brad Armacost, John Judd, Hollis Resnik and Sean Fortunato, their antics should be a hoot. If you've never seen this comedy, expect a snake-keeping patriarch who hasn't ever paid his income taxes, a tinkerer who makes fireworks in the basement, a candymaker who dreams of being a ballerina and, the only "normal" one, a young woman whose romance is in jeopardy. That's not to mention the tax investigator and cops who suspect a terrorist plot.
This guide is suitable for audience members of all ages. Included in the You Can't Take It With You guide:
- Extended profile on the playwrighting team
- A detailed synopsis
- Character descriptions
- A timeline of the play's enduring success
- Snapshots of life in the 1930s
- Discussion questions