Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's Pulitzer Prize-winning play staged like a Feydeau farce! Doors slam on a boisterous set aclutter with tchotchkes and eccentrics as fireworks go off from the basement. Where there's smoke, there's... No, no, not revolutionary bombs! Scott Ellis' revival of You Can't Take It With You at the Longacre Theater sets the stage on fire!
But chemical petards aside, family values, class, and real life values provide the drama's substance: Penny Sycamore is the epitome of unconditional love and acceptance. Kristine Nielson, the closest person to a bobble head figure I've ever seen, and who wowed everyone in last season's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, has reserves of unconditional love for her odd brood included grandpa, a wise James Earl Jones, her husband, the pyrotechnic Mark Linn Baker, dancer daughter Essie (Annaleigh Ashford, hilarious in Kinky Boots and Showtime's Masters of Sex) who studies classical ballet with Boris Kolenkhov (Reg Rogers). The family generosity extends to a drunken Gay Wellington (Julie Halston). Daughter Alice, the delicate fine-boned Rose Byrne in her Broadway debut, loves the boss's son (Fran Kranz), but fears that his rather proper upscale parents (Byron Jennings and Johanna Day) may not mesh well with her unruly kin. Class matters in this Depression era romp. But what can you say to a family that comes to a home-cooked dinner in black tie?
The ensemble, including a gorgeous Elizabeth Ashley as a down-on-her-heels Russian countess, adds hilarious gravitas to this production, done old school, with two intermissions. That's just fine because you need a pause in the non-stop laughing.
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