Review: You Can’t Take It With You at Chautauqua Playhouse

Showtimes: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through 9/30; $19-$21; Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Road in the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael; (916) 489-7529;
Rated 4.0

There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned comedy for an enjoyable night out. You Can’t Take It With You is one of those. It has a big, busy set, a large cast (18 members) and writing that is smart, not just “clever.”

Written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, the show debuted on Broadway in 1936 and won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for drama. (A 1938 film version directed by Frank Capra won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director.)

The action all takes place in the home of the quirky Sycamore family where a playwright, firework makers, a snake collector and so many more do pretty much what they love, consequences—and the IRS—be damned. It’s the kind of household where a milkman makes a delivery one day and stays five years (until he dies). Penny (Karen Ward) oversees the madness, happy as long as the family is.

It’s only when daughter Alice (Alyssa Tanner, in a role Jessica Chastain played here 20 years ago) falls in love with the rich and handsome young Tony Kirby (Eric Fawcett) that the sweet flow of life goes awry—until love and Grandpa (Rodger Hoopman) prevail.