From left, cast members of You Can't Take It With You at Little Theatre of Alexandria: Bernard Engel (Gramps), Jonathan Gruich (Ed), Jerry Hoffman (Mr. Henderson), Ted Culler (Paul Sycamore), Amy Griffin (Penny Sycamore) and Raeanna Nicole Larson (Essie)/Photo by Matt Liptak
It was a joy to leave the theatre and almost skip along the brick sidewalk in the rain which is the sensation I felt after seeing Little Theatre of Alexandria's marvelous new show, You Can't Take It With You.
From the get-go, this is a lark. And you thought your family was crazy?
You ain't seen nuthin' yet.
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's 1936 Broadway show is lots of laughs and gaiety in 2019 when a young man takes his ultra-snooty parents to meet his fiancée's family and have dinner.
Try canned salmon and frankfurters since, whoops! They came on the wrong night. Tony, the son, (Matt Tucker) screwed up his calendar, or did he?
Dressed to the nines in fur and tuxedo, the Kirbys (Kate Ives and James McDaniel 5th) arrive at the Sycamores' where the lady of the house, Mrs. Sycamore (Amy Griffin) has multiple hobbies, Gramps (Bernard Engel in as natural a role as anyone could expect) collects snakes and doesn't pay income tax, Mr. Sycamore makes fireworks in his cellar with an assistant, Mr. DePinna (Steve Rosenthal) who came for dinner and stayed eight years, and two daughters, who are ...
The "normal" one, Alice (Emmy Leaverton), who is Tony's fiancée, and the other one, Essie (Raeanna Nicole Larson), a dancing queen in constant motion, pirouetting and sticking her legs out whenever she can, always talking and never missing a beat. (She wants to be a dancer.)
She is married to Ed (Jonathan Gruich) who plays the xylophone.
Essie's Russian instructor (Peter Halverson is Boris ) arrives, and a drunk "Grand Duchess" (Melissa Dunlap) slips in and crashes upside down on the sofa. (Don't ask. You have to be there.)
The kitchen help (Chantel F. Grant is Reba and Robert Freeman is Donald) are a sane couple who bring levity and reason to the crazies found in the living room.
The star of the show, Amy Griffin as Mrs. Sycamore, begins the show pecking away on her typewriter on her newest hobby, play writing.
Surely a next year nominee for a WATCH Outstanding Actress, she's like a butterfly which flits and floats from one topic to the next, but always exuberant.
The single set scene is the Sycamores' cluttered living and dining room in New York City (but any place will do), nicely designed by Grant Kevin Lane, assisted by many.
Costume designer Erin Nixon dresses her in June Cleaver fashions (from Leave It to Beaver, if anyone is old enough to remember that) with pearls, constant dresses, and high heels, at home. (That's the way they used to dress...supposedly.)
Meanwhile, here come the FBI and the IRS, and you get the picture, or you will, if you can still get a seat and come away from it all.
Others in the cast are Jerry Hoffman and Mark Stein as "the men."
The play won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and when made into a motion picture in 1939, won Best Picture and Best Director (Frank Capra) and was nominated for six more Oscars.
Masterful direction by Stephen Jarrett, assisted by Matthew Munroe; choreography by Melissa Dunlap ; sound by Janice Rivera and more (how about an explosion in the cellar accompanied by pow! zoom! wow! lighting by Franklin C. Coleman?), hair and makeup by Susan Boyd; dialects coach, Julia Abakaeva; fight choreographer, Michael Page; stage managers, Samantha Jensen and Shannon Starcher; producers, Jamie Blake and Eileen Doherty and many more help bring it all together and make for one enjoyable time at the theatre.
What: You Can't Take It With You
When: Now through March 16, 2019. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. The Sunday March 10 matinee has sold out.
Where: Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Tickets: $21 to $24
Public transportation: The closest Metro station is King Street, about 13 blocks away. From there, a Dash bus will take you near the theatre.
Parking: On the streets and in many garages nearby. If Capital One Bank at Wilkes and Washington streets is closed, the bank's lot is open to LTA patrons at no charge
For more information: 703-683-0496