by Ethel Guy

Moss Hart and George S. Kauffman wrote YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU in 1936, but no matter – take an evening off from the hectic pace of today’s digital driven world and go to Chapel Street Players in Newark, Delaware. Sit back, relax, and let some timeless universal truths wash over you. Who among us would fail to smile in agreement with Grandpa Martin Vanderhof (Jack Murphy) when he tells an exasperated IRS agent (Peter Matthews) why he hasn’t paid income tax for a long time: he just doesn’t think he’s getting anything for his money. Besides, the Constitution of the United States was paid for a long time ago….

L. to R.) Front: Walt Osborne (Paul), Lori Ann Johnson (Essie), JR Rosas (Ed),Russell O'Neill (The Man), Jack Murphy (Grandpa) Back: Nancy Kersey (Penny), Tricia LaRock (Mrs. Kirby), Bob Touhey (Mr. Kirby); Members of the Cast of Chapel Street Players' YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU.

Instead, he decided to abandon the pursuit of money and now lives in the midst of a happy but dotty extended family where everyone pursues his or her dream. His daughter Penelope Sycamore (Nancy Kersey) used to paint, but she started writing plays one day when a typewriter was delivered to the house by mistake. Her husband, Paul (Walt Osborne) creates artistic fireworks in the basement with Mr. De Pinna, (James A. Simpers) a house guest who came to dinner a long time ago and never left; granddaughter Essie (Lori Ann Johnson) studies ballet with Russian ballet master Boris Kolenkhov (Bill Fellner) while Essie’s husband Ed (JR Rosas) plays the xylophone and prints handbills on his press. All is happy mayhem until Essie’s sister Alice (Pat Cullinane) announces that she is bringing home beau Tony Kirby (Patrick Cathcart) and is concerned – as any young woman would be – about how Tony will get along with her family. Everyone is thrown into excited planning for Tony and his parents to come to dinner. Real mayhem ensues when Tony and family show up a night early and everyone is caught unawares.

Tony’s father is the antithesis of Grandpa Vanderhof. While Grandpa opted out of the rat race, Mr. Kirby (Robert Touhey) has pursued it with a relentless, if vacant passion. Needless to say, a clash of cultures ensues, with Mrs. Kirby (Tricia LaRock) highly indignant in her mink-stoled glory at these seeming uneducated low lifes while her husband extols the glory of Wall Street. If it’s so glorious, Grandpa asks, why does Mr. Kirby suffer so from indigestion?

At this point – after some very insane hijinks that threatens everyone’s sanity and decorum – the play turns to a more serious exposition of life, happiness, and the pursuit thereof. Director Marsha Amato-Greenspan’s cast is able to go beyond the fun surface merriment of Hart and Kauffman’s writing to summon up depths of emotion that truly move us to ask the same questions that are flying between Grandpa and Mr. Kirby: why chase an elusive goal of money and material things if all you become is sick and alienated from your loved ones? Life is simple, Grandpa says, if you relax – it can be beautiful if you just settle back and let life come to you. After all, you can’t take it with you.

This excellent cast is well served by Gina Valania and Alan Butler as Rheba and Donald, the household help who keep this family running in spite of itself, as well as Georgiana Staley as The Grand Duchess Olga Katrina who drops in for dinner between shifts as a waitress and Renee O’Leary as Gay Wellington, a slightly in-her-cups actress whom Penelope met on a bus. Everyone is welcome here. The Vanderhof-Sycamore family embraces life as it comes to them. Go visit them for an evening. You’ll be glad you did!

by Moss Hart & George S. Kauffman
Directed by Marsha Amato-Greenspan
June 11 – 26, 2010
The Chapel Street Players
27 N. Chapel Street
Newark, DE

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