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When zany met stuffy

You Can't Take It With You is an old-fashioned, wholesome, human comedy that has truly withstood the test of time.

It opened in New York in 1936 and was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1938 (Best Picture, Director Frank Capra). It has been revived on Broadway numerous times and performed in regional and community venues, usually with success.

Stage West Community Playhouse opens its version of the rollicking show on Thursday, with a cast that mixes Stage West veterans and eight experienced players making their Stage West debuts.

"I discovered this show in 1984 out in California, when I saw Jason Robards do it," said Terri Marwood, who is directing the show, her first on the theater's main stage.

You Can't Take It With You takes place at the home of eccentric Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff (David Stenger, chef in Don't Drink the Water). Grandpa is a social dropout who hasn't paid his federal income taxes in years and is determined to simply enjoy life.

Downstairs, son-in-law Paul Sycamore (newcomer Rick Cody) is making illegal fireworks. Upstairs, his clumsy granddaughter Essie Carmichael (Cheryl Roberts, Miss Burns in Don't Drink) is taking dance lessons from a temperamental Russian, Boris Kolenkov (newcomer Peter Clapsis).

Into this chaos comes youngest granddaughter Alice Sycamore (Jessica Martin, A Pasco Christmas), who announces that her fiance, who also happens to be her rich boss' son, Tony Kirby (newcomer Philip Gilbo), is bringing the elder Kirbys (Maurice Serther, Andrea Gleason) for a visit.

She begs the family to behave more conventionally while the Kirbys are there, but the mayhem continues unabated.

After all, grandpa says, everyone should live life to the fullest every moment of the day, because you can't take it with you _ not money, not time, not life itself.

"It's really a lot of fun," Ms. Marwood said of the play. She was co-director of the drama Night of the Iguana and often directs children's shows in the Forum.

More than 40 people showed up for auditions, she said. She, assistant director Mary Oswald and apprentice stage manager Jennifer Vilardi had a difficult time choosing, she said.

"I could have put several of the cast members in any number of different roles."

She is pleased with the choices they made to play the zany people in the Moss Hart-George S. Kaufman play that won a Pulitzer Prize.

"I joke that I cast characters as characters."


WHAT: You Can't Take It With You

WHERE: Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill

WHEN: Thursday and weekends through Jan. 30. Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2.

TICKETS: $14. Box office is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113 or purchase online at and click on TicketLeap.