Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mini-Review: A Gem of a Play at Northeastern University – “You Can’t Take It with You.”

I attended the opening night performance of “You Can’t Take It with You” last evening for one reason – and one reason only: I know a member of the cast. I believe in supporting local theater, so I was there to lend my support. I walked away having been treated to one of my most enjoyable theater-going experiences in a long time. I see a lot of plays, and I am a pretty tough critic, so for me to be impressed with this production says a great deal about the quality that this team from Northeastern have built into this show. They pulled off this notable accomplishment in part by adding life and panache to an old chestnut of the stage repertoire. I am writing this review to encourage any theater lover in the Boston area to catch one of the remaining performances on the campus of NU. It may be the best investment of your entertainment dollar that you can make this fall in the Boston area.

When Bostonians think about Northeastern University, two things normally come to mind: engineering and the Co-op program that places NU students in real-world work situations in their chosen profession. Very few Boston natives would name the Theater Department as one of the school’s strengths. The truth is, I have now attended quite a few NU student productions, and I have never walked away disappointed.

Under the adept direction of Professor Del Lewis, the flawless ensemble cast treats the audience to three enchanting acts that artfully blend benign mayhem with folk wisdom – all framed in an evocative set that should win an award for verisimilitude. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the set, I felt myself instantaneously transported to a simpler time – an era when the IRS and the concept of income tax was an innovative idea. There was nothing “taxing” about watching this cast create and develop plausible and lovable characters that, in less capable hands, could have devolved into stereotypes and caricatures. This beautifully-written play, that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1936 for Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, is a true ensemble piece, and Lewis’ troupe of actors has no weak links. The zany family and fellow-travelers that stand as the emotional center piece of the play - offspring of the pater familias, Grandpa Martin Vanderhof - raise eccentricity to an art form. As off-center as they may be, this is a motley crew that I would enjoy vacationing with or sharing a meal with.

My final word on how much I loved this production is that I have just re-arranged my schedule to allow me to see another performance of the show next week. I would love to have you join me!



Detail about the play taken from the NU Student Activities website:

The Department of Theatre presents "You Can’t Take It with You" by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. Directed by Del Lewis. This Pulitzer Prize winning play introduced the phrase "you can't take it with you" into American culture. A humorous treatment of carpe diem and the notion that making money isn't life's only purpose. It follows the antics of two families: Tony Kirby has fallen in love with Alice Sycamore. Alice's delightful, eccentric family plans a nice dinner for the two families; but the Kirbys come on the wrong night . . . a formula for a comedic romp which has become classic. This play is the original!

Location: Northeastern University, Studio Theater, 1st Floor, Curry Center

Cost: General Tickets: $17; student discount with NU ID

8:00 PM – November 7-10 and November 13-17

E-mail or phone contact: Carol Najarian:, 617-373-2245

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