You Can't Take It With You

Written by Ruby Nancy,

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU is one of the most-produced plays in theaters around the country, and it is easy to see why.

A host of characters – and I mean real characters – and sweet romance and potential in-laws and outwitting the IRS are just the high points of this crowd-pleasing comedy. Set in the summer of 1936, there are lots of period-specific things that are fun, plus the show features a few pets and a class-clashing setup that is just made for laughs.

Of course, it helps to have a fine cast and top-notch tech to pull off this simply sweet – but far from simple to produce and direct – menagerie of a show. And this Timber Lake show has plenty of fine actors and some great design and tech, so the latest version of YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU to hit a stage in this region is a really wonderful show.

In particular, scenic designer Joseph C. Heitman (assisted by Tamar S. Daskin) has outdone himself with a gorgeously rendered period set that consists of the Vanderhof-Sycamore family home and the street outside its front door. It is lovely and inviting, and totally comfortable.

Lighting designer Brian Hoehne floods the house with a soft shine, gives us ambient glow from the street when the lights are off, and lets the outdoor light match the time of day – all without us hardly noticing, because he does so in such a natural way. Properties designer Melissa Mattingly Parsons has a whale of a job here, with the multitude of props required for this show, and she has absolutely everything required. Again, this complete attention to detail pays off in what you don’t notice, because everything is just as it should be.

Plenty of performances shine up this show, too, including Jeremy Day’s just-grand-enough Mr. Kolenkhov and Kelli Koloszar’s cheerful, curvaceous Essie. Samantha Dubina is superb as the daffy mom of this eccentric family, Penelope, and Matthew Griffin’s turn as Donald is a complete stitch, delivering his stereotypical lines with an outsized carelessness that borders on perfectly-timed cheek.

As Grandpa, the cheerfully stress-free patriarch, Robert Maher is excellence personified – giving the role a simple authenticity that has plenty of appeal. Heather Herkelman (as Alice, the daughter whose love life is at the center of the story) and Nick Toussaint (as Tony Kirby, Alice’s beau) make a good-looking couple, and their post-date scene is gentle and romantic in a perfectly old-fashioned way.

Altogether a thoroughly fantastic production, this YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, but you surely want to see it just the same.