Monday, December 8, 2014

The Accidental Thespian Takes A Bow ....For Now

With the publishing of my latest review, I have decided to take a break from writing The Accidental Thespian.   I began this blog in the fall of 2010 as part of my recovery process from a bad episode of depression.  Writing about the theater that I love to perform, create and attend kept my foot in the career that I love and adore.  

Now it is time for me to move on to the next phase of my writing life. I have another large project and another blog marchionessofexeter.blogspot.com.  Gertrude Blount Courtenay, Marchioness of Exeter was the first historical person I portrayed at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. She is one of the most fascinating members of the courts of King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Mary I that you have probably never heard of. I decided that I would like to research her life and that of her husband, Henry Courtenay, first cousin to King Henry VIII, with the aim of writing a biography of her. That project needs to become my number one priority in 2015.

Well that and a little project I am doing for the 2015 Popular Cultural Association/American Cultural Association's national conference in New Orleans, LA in April. I am delivering my third paper in the Festival and Faires division this one about another of the historical women I have portrayed.  Entitled "That Bawd Lady Rochford, or How Popular Culture Turned Me into a Bitch." I will be examining how the wife of George Boleyn became one of the most hated women of the 16th century and the role popular culture depictions of her shaped that opinion.

I hope that I will one day return to The Accidental Thespian. I've enjoyed writing my reviews for my tiny audience of friends and acquaintances. I've learned a lot during the process.  Mostly I think my father, Russell Holcomb, who once upon a time actually encouraged me to consider writing theater criticism, would have enjoyed this little exercise of mine.

Until then, I will continue to see a lot of theater. (Five Guys Named Moe at Arena - fun, Fiddler On The Roof at Arena - compelling, A Delicate Balance on Broadway - Albee.  Need I say more?)  I hope to get back on stage myself one day or at least turn into a producer of things I believe in.

Please continue to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for the marvelous work that they do to support those who live with HIV/AIDS and other medical needs.  Please support live theater whether its buying a ticket or donating to the theater company of your choice.

This is Diane Holcomb Wilshere, The Accidental Thespian signing off.

The Elephant Man at the Booth Theatre


The life of Joseph Merrick attracted a lot of attention in the late 1970's, first with the publication of Ashley Montagu's book The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity and the renewed interest in Dr. Frederick Treves' memoir The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences.  This led to the 1979 Tony winning play The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance receiving a top notch revival production at the Booth Theatre. While this is an excellent production featuring compelling performances by the small cast and steady, thoughtful direction by Scott Ellis, audiences who pay attention to the text may leave the theatre questioning the circumstances of Joseph Merrick's life, particularly after his decision to live and be studied medically by Dr. Treves at the London Hospital for the last four years of his life.

Joseph Merrick? Does the reviewer not mean John Merrick as he is referred to in Pomerance's play? No. The actual man was named Joseph Merrick and following the popularity of both the play and the David Lynch film another biography by Michael Howell and Peter Ford The True History of the Elephant Man was published which proved among other things that the young man's name was Joseph and that a lot of what Dr. Treves published about Mr. Merrick's early years was false. Yet, despite these errors being given voice in the play, Mr. Pomerance's play is filled with a respect for humanity especially beneath the surface of one hideously deformed by a medical condition unable to be treated by 19th century medicine. Come for the freak show, or more likely to see Academy Award nominated actor Bradley Cooper in the title role. Leave the theater questioning whether Mr. Merrick simply traded up to a more comfortable exhibit hall.

The play begins with Dr. Treves meeting his new employer Carr Gromm at the London Hospital. Learning of a freak show curiousity near the hospital he pays his admission and sees John Merrick for the first time. Insisting on examining Mr. Merrick Dr. Treves takes him back to the hospital where he gives a lecture on his deformities. During the lecture photographs of the actual Merrick are shown while the very beautiful Mr. Cooper contorts his body to approximate Merrick's disability.

According to the play, Joseph Merrick was born and developed hideous skin growths that severely deformed most of his body. Abandoned by his mother to a workhouse he grew up there until he reached maturity. The only source of income possible was to join a side show as a curiosity. Mr. Merrick is shown being beaten by his so-called owner and manager Ross and eventually abandoned while in Belgium.  Returning to London Mr. Merrick is admitted to London Hospital where Dr. Treves gets several life lessons about the nature of humanity and man's relationship to God by caring for Mr. Merrick. It is Merrick's introduction to the famous actress Mrs. Kendall that broadens his social interactions while turning the London Hospital into a popular site for the aristocratic patrons the hospital desperately needs for funds. Over the course of his stay at the hospital one can only wonder did Dr. Treves benefit more from his paternalistic care of the man or did Merrick deepen Dr. Treves humanity.

The primary players in this revival give emotional performances. Alessandro Nivola is a reticent Dr. Treves whose relationship with Merrick slowly unleashes buried emotions. Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendall has a regal bearing. She is "acting" when she is first asked to visit Merrick using her performer's mask to hide her natural revulsion. The two characters are deeply affected by how Merrick affects them deeply and it shows in their heartfelt performances.

Bradley Cooper shows by his role choices how good an actor he is, not for nothing has he rightly earned two Academy Award nominations. Mr. Cooper has stated in numerous interviews that it was the 1980 David Lynch film of The Elephant Man (not related to the play) that made him want to become an actor. Merrick is a challenging and showy role requiring great physical and vocal stamina. Look beyond the theatrics and Mr. Cooper is giving one of the most compelling performances of the fall Broadway season.  One hopes that he is not lost at Tony nomination time by the distant memories of the Tony committee after the closing of the limited run of this production.

The play is colored by a Victorian empire notion that those with money and means know best how to care for the poor and afflicted. Merrick's life story as portrayed feels at times like he has traded a street exhibition for a more gilded one. The audience should be uncomfortable by the all-knowing Victorian sensibilities of Dr. Treves towards his patient (and the hospital's cash cow). This same audience should also walk away from Mr. Cooper's performance in the title role delighted to have made Mr. Merrick's acquaintance.

The Elephant Man is being produced at The Booth Theatre on Broadway in a limited run through February 15, 2015. For tickets and other performance information please visit elephantmanbroadway.com.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The River at Circle In The Square


Hugh Jackman is back on Broadway. Let the box office numbers rejoice. (Not to mention the uptick in donations to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for the Gypsy of the Year campaign). This time Mr. Jackman headlines The River, the 2012 play by Jez Butterworth.  Mr. Butterworth's last work on Broadway was the 2011 Tony-nominated Jerusalem for which its star Mark Rylance won the Tony for Lead Actor in a Play. Whether Mr. Butterworth or Mr. Jackman can repeat that critical success is unknown. The River is a box office success and a limited extension of its planned performance run has already been announced.

Circle In The Square is in a three-quarter thrust stage for this production. Designer Ultz has created a weather-worn cabin which creates a perfect atmosphere for this very mysterious play in harmony with the lighting design of Charles Balfour and particularly the amazing sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. The River would be a front runner for the sound design Tony award if it had not been discontinued as a category by the Tony nominating committee. So what mysterious story has Mr. Butterworth created for this marvelously designed scene?

Well, truth be told The River is a bit of a murky, muddy mess. We are at the cabin of The Man (Hugh Jackman) who has brought his new girlfriend The Woman (Cush Jumbo) to his family cabin to share his love of fishing for sea trout. The Woman, winsomely portrayed by Ms. Jumbo is a very literary person who is more interested in the beautiful sunset and the setting than she is in fishing. The next scene The Man is frantic as he tries to reach help on his cell phone as a woman has gone missing while they were out fishing. Turns out said woman is The Other Woman (Laura Donnelly), another girlfriend who he also has brought to experience the sea trout fishing experience. Ms. Donnelly's Other Woman is more earthy and adventuresome, eager to embrace the strange experiences she had while lost on the darkened riverbank or eat the spoils of her catch. Without giving up too much of the twists and turns in this plot, suffice it to say that Mr. Butterworth has the audience experience The Man's evening with both women in mostly alternating scenes.

In the end the audience may get the deeper meaning of what Mr. Butterworth is trying to achieve. Or the audience could end up wondering why there is so much emphasis on the poetry of Ted Hughes and W.B. Yeats. The River is a very philosophical work.  Mr. Butterworth has added a lot of pondering and pontificating monologues, particularly on the joys of fishing for sea trout on a moonless night when the fish run.  Or, as this reviewer witnessed, some audience members may simply wander down 8th Avenue questioning whether The Man is a serial killer.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the performances or the direction by Ian Rickson. Perhaps the play suffers in being in a larger theater than the sub-100 seat theater it played in London thereby losing true intimacy with the audience.

Mr Jackman embraces the complexity of The Man. He is at heart a man searching for true love, only to find disappointment again and again through the choices he makes. On the other hand Mr. Jackman has become clearly expert at gutting and prepping a sea trout dinner on stage. Prepapre with Fennel, leeks (washed under the faucet not soaked), lemon, salt, maybe pepper in case you were wondering.

And there in lies the problem with The River. There is nothing wrong with a play being deeply philosophical, lyrical and non-linear. However there is a problem when a play is so densely written that it is a true challenge to figure out what are the intentions of the playwright. Suffice it to say, no The Man is not a serial killer. To draw your own conclusions about what The River means you will have to try to get one of the hottest tickets on Broadway this fall and come to your own conclusions over The River's scant 85 minute running time.

The River is being performed at Circle In The Square on Broadway through February 8, 2015. For tickets and other performance information please visit theriveronbroadway.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Last Ship at the Neil Simon Theatre


Someone needs to propose writing a dissertation on the recent trend of depicting the end of industrial Britain in musical theater. There certainly are more and more candidates for analysis. The latest is Sting's love letter to his home town, Wallsend, a former shipyard town most famous for building the Carpathia, the ship that responded to the sinking of the Titanic. What is good about The Last Ship is the haunting score by Sting, some terrific performances by the acting ensemble, and the atmospheric direction by Joe Mantello. What hurts The Last Ship and ultimately makes it not quite a satisfying evening of theater is that its subject invites comparison to the death of industrial Britain musicals that have come before it. Many of the themes in The Last Ship will lead a veteran theatergoer inevitably to start making comparisons, not in favor of the well meaning The Last Ship.

Gideon Fletcher is a young teenager with a girl he loves and a father with whom he has a difficult relationship. When Dad is permanently injured he pressures young Gideon into entering the family business. Instead Gideon runs away taking to a life at sea. Fifteen years later he returns after learning of his father's death. The town's shipyard has closed and the ghosts of the past haunt Gideon in the present day. When the Catholic priest Father O'Brien proposes that the workers occupy the shipyard and build one last ship to show the world what skills are being lost forever in the name of progress and cheap overseas labor, Gideon ends up becoming a reluctant leader.

A large problem with The Last Ship lies in its book which is co-written by John Logan and Brian Yorkey. Mr. Yorkey left this project to bring If/Then to Broadway. The plot has holes in it and suffers from having too melancholic a tone throughout the piece. As an example, Father O'Brien puts up the church building fund to build the ship. For an economically depressed area that must have been quite the fund. There is no clue what will happen to the ship once it is completed beyond its maiden voyage. The script would have been served by simply adding perhaps publicity for the project (bring in journalists or television coverage) and an actual goal for the ship rather than what seems like a metaphorical ending.

The tale is also not served by having characters and plot points that are almost cliches. The hero has conflicts with his father (see Billy Elliot, Kinky Boots). The good hearted Catholic priest, played with the tough love and blue humor that is needed by the always capable Fred Applegate is saddled with an unnecessary plot devise that will bring to mind the fate of a similar character in the film The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain. Naturally the girl left behind had Gideon's son. (this is really not a spoiler as said teenage son appears very quickly in the first act). Collin Kelly Sordelet makes an impressive Broadway debut as both Young Gideon and Gideon's son Tom. Both characters are distinctive and the script fortunately does not contain any true melodrama about the son not knowing who is his real father.

Rachel Tucker is tough as nails as Meg, the girl left behind. A love triangle is created by adding the character of Arthur, a shipyard worker turned executive who has been steadily in both Meg and Tom's life. Aaron Lazar helps make Arthur a genuine good sensible man and father figure so that there is fortunately no detour into, once again, melodrama land when it comes to reuniting Meg and Gideon after all those years.

Michael Esper has the perfect voice for the wayward Gideon Fletcher. In many ways he sounds like composer Sting, although that may be the nature of how Sting wrote the music. Mr. Esper has a challenge in that his character is part prodigal part absolute jerk, yet by the end of the evening the character reaches a satisfactory redemption.

Sting has written a beautiful score. It ranges from the haunting themes "Island of Souls" and "Ghost Story" to the rousing "If You Ever See Me Talking to a Sailor" and "Mrs. Dees' Rant."  The score is served well by the earthy character driven choreography of Steven Hoggett who did a similar style for the musical Once. The scenic elements of David Zimm and the lighting of Christopher Akerlind are atmospheric and suit well the piece.

One wishes that only one writer had shaped the book of The Last Ship as tightening the plot holes would have made it a more seaworthy evening of theater.

The Last Ship is being performed at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. For tickets and other performance information please visit thelastship.com or ticketmaster.com

Monday, October 27, 2014

On The Town at the Lyric Theatre

'New York, New York, it's a helluva town.
The Bronx is up, but the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the groun'.
New York, New York, it's a helluva town!."


If you like your Broadway musical revivals big, bright and brassy run to the Lyric Theatre.  If you were thrilled when the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific performed the score of that show with a huge orchestra, well, folks, the 70th anniversary Broadway revival of On The Town is the perfect show for you.

Opened originally in 1944, On The Town was inspired by Jerome Robbins ballet Fancy Free, one-act ballet about three sailors on leave with music by Leonard Bernstein.  Transformed into a Broadway musical the later that same year, the book and lyrics were handled by then Broadway first timers Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  The result is a charming dance-filled musical that to paraphrase the cliche, just ain't made this way anymore.

On the Town is the story of three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City. Chip is looking forward to seeing the sights his father saw on a visit more than a decade ago.  Ozzie just wants to get a "date." Gabey, the dreamer, wants to meet a girl just like his childhood sweetheart.  When Gabey sees on the subway a poster of the monthly winner of Miss Turnstiles, Ozzie and Chip, who owe Gabey their lives make a pact to help him find the girl of his dreams.  In the course of the day the sailors each find a girl, wreck havoc, start a city-wide chase and have a memorable day before they report back on board ship.

The Lyric Theatre is a very large venue and there was a concern that after its last oversized tenant, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, any other show would be swallowed up by the very large space. On The Town's director John Rando keeps the action bustling and bursting out of the stage almost as if On The Town just can't contain itself to the stage.  Beowulf Boritts' scenic and production design evoke a marvelous version of 1944 New York City that easily handles the vast size of the Lyric's stage. Joshua Bergasse' choreography takes full advantage of the space to create beautiful dances and ballets, particularly the "Miss Turnstiles Ballet" and the "Times Square Ballet" that fills the audience with a sense of spectacle that comes from the wonder of good theatrical ballet and pays homage to the original stylings of Jerome Robbins.

The 28-piece orchestra under the baton of musical director James Moore will have you on your feet before the curtain rises. The marvelous acting ensemble will keep you smiling the rest of the evening. There are many, many standout performances.  As was the case in the original production the role of Ivy Smith, Miss Turnstiles is performed by a ballet dancer. Megan Fairchild 's dancing is fluid and beautiful and if her acting and singing are not on the same level of her dancing, this is a gentle reminder that a lot of musicals used to not have roles written for today's triple threat performers. As her ardent admirer and chaser Gabey, Tony Yazbeck is a leading man in the mold of Gene Kelly. Clyde Alves is earthy as Ozzie, the potential caveman to comedic soprano and anthropologist Elizabeth Stanley's Claire. Jay Armstrong Johnson's adorably goofy Chip is well matched to Alysha Umphress' brassy taxi driver and "cook, too" Hildy.

While the leads are terrific they are nearly upstaged by a trio of supporting performers. Michael Ripkin as the "I Understand" fiancee of Claire, Allison Guinn as Hildy's wallflower roommate Lucy make the most of their limited stage time. Please make a game out of "is that Jackie Hoffman again?" in her myriad hilarious appearances, the most prominent one as Ivy's broke lush of a music teacher Maude P. Dilly.

On The Town is a great evening of theater that shows a 21st-century audience that the old supposed warhorses still have life in them with the right production team and ensemble of actors and dancers. If you are traveling to New York City and want to have a great time you can do no better than to visit the Lyric Theatre and follow a trio of sailors on shore leave On The Town.

On The Town is being performed at the Lyric Theatre in New York City. For tickets and other performance information please visit www.onthetownbroadway.com.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre


There are many complex novels that get labeled as incapable of being adapted for the stage and screen. You would think by now that cliche statement would be tossed in a rubbish heap. The National Theatre imports the highly anticipated adaptation of Mark Hadden's popular novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It is well worth the wait.

15-year-old Christopher Boone has a brilliant mathematical mind couched within the challenges of autism. Christopher has poor social skills and is prone to sensory overload and cannot stand being touched. One night he goes to visit Wellington, his neighbor's standard poodle, only to discover to his horror that Wellington is dead, stabbed with a garden fork. (that's a pitchfork for us Americans) Briefly detained as the prime suspect he becomes obsessed with solving the crime. What Christopher does not realize is that in his zeal to solve the mystery he will unravel dark family secrets that will forever change his life. It is a journey in reality, fantasy and for this fascinating young man that leads to a sentimental yet surprisingly mature conclusion. 

This is an example of a perfect marriage between playwright and director.  Simon Stephens adaptation and Marianne Elliott's wonderful out of the proverbial box direction is the key to bringing Christopher Boone's story to the stage. Simon Stephens script, framed in a way to evoke the first person narration of Mark Haddon's novel mostly works. Narrated, well actually read, primarily by Christopher's sympathetic teacher and counselor, Siobhan, from the start the audience is aware that the tale will be revealed as Christopher perceives it. What makes it astounding is how organic the technical aspects compliment and vividly enhance the play. The audience enters into the Barrymore Theatre to face a barren stage marked in a grid like graphing paper.  Bunny Christie's scenic design brands the design as the canvas for Christopher Boone's complex need for order and his astounding ability with mathematics.  Combined with Paule Constable's lighting, Finn Ross's video design, Ian Dickerson for Autograph's sound design and Adrian Sutton's music the stage is transformed into the inner workings of Christopher's mind.

Some of the design may remind audiences of the visual concept for the trouble lead character of Ron Howard's film A Beautiful Mind where the way that film's troubled genius' mind saw the world was literally drawn on the screen. What really hammers home in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time  is the sensory overload that envelops both Christopher Boone and the viewing audience whenever he is faced with a crisis. To understand how this young man perceives the world and to share in being overwhelmed by the ordinary sights and sounds we easily take for granted as background noise is one of the supreme accomplishments of this remarkable play.

Keeping it all together is director Marianne Elliott, probably best known in the states for her Tony award-winning work on another difficult piece War Horse. Working with a duo of choreographers, Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, Ms. Elliott brings this complicated world to vibrant life.  The ensemble of actors work as a unit to assist and obstruct Christopher on his journey of discovery whether helping him imagine the universe or survive the terrors of the London Underground.
If there is a weakness in Mr. Stephens' script it is the few times in act two, when the tale changes from a story being read to a play being staged that the conceit of "we are watching Christopher's play" is hammered home a bit too literally, such as when Christopher interrupts a scene to make corrections. It is just not needed and would work better if the audience was simply trusted to accept the play as it unfolds. The one exception to that concept that truly works well leads to a marvelous encore for the show and its engaging lead actor. Suffice to say you do not want to miss the curtain call.

Without the perfect leading man, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time would fall flat. Making an impressive Broadway debut is recent Julliard graduate, Alex Sharp. Mr. Sharp embodies all of Christopher Boone's eccentricities and challenges without forgetting that Christopher, while deeply challenging to watch at times must also remain for the audience immensely likable, especially when expressing his wonderment with the universe. Mr. Sharp is the center of Curious Incident's universe, without him it would deflate. 

The small ensemble ably supports Mr. Sharp's remarkable performance. Highlights go to Francesca Faridany, as the teacher who encourages Christopher in his determination, Enid Graham as Judy, Christopher's absent mother and Ian Barford as Christopher's weary father, who makes decisions for his family made in the heat of anger and a desire to protect his vulnerable son lead tragically to a deep chasm between father and son. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a challenging play. It is emotionally satisfying, occasionally melodramatic, but leaves its audience with the delight in knowing that Christopher Boone, this marvelous young man with so many obstacles to overcome eventually achieves triumphs that are not at all possible when the play begins. May its audience leave the Barrymore Theatre as equally hopeful and emotionally satisfied.

Please note: due to the physical and emotional exertions required to portray Christopher Boone the role is played by Taylor Trensch at certain performances.

The National Theatre's Production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is being performed at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway. For tickets and other performance information please visit curiousonbroadway.com 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

You Can't Take It With You at the Longacre Theatre




Chestnut.
Pulitzer Prize winner.
War horse.
Best Picture Academy Award winning film adaptation.
Staple of high school and community theater.

If this was a question on Jeopardy! the answer is - You Can't Take It With You.

Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's madcap family comedy makes a very welcome return to Broadway this season. Yes, the play is as old as the hills. Yes, some of the jokes are married to the original 1930's time period. Yes, any number of theatergoers are probably thinking, I did this show in high school, why, oh, why is it on Broadway in 2014?

The answer to that question lies in the hands of director Scott Ellis who has assembled a cast that does not contain a weak link. Is the scenario of the normal member of a wacky family dreading bringing her fiancee's straight laced folks to dinner done to death?  Of course it is. What many don't realize is that You Can't Take It With You was one of the first, if not the first play to use that scenario. Mr. Ellis has given his ensemble such great direction that the zany aspects only compliment the true message of Hart and Kaufman's play. This is a family that at the end of the day loves each other, respects each other and above all encourages everyone, no matter their talents, or lack thereof, to pursue happiness. To paraphrase Linus van Pelt, that's what You Can't Take It With You is all about, Charlie Brown.

For the few who don't know the story, Martin Vanderhof, grandfather and patriarch of his family, one day decided to quit his job and pursue whatever struck his fancy. The rest of his family has followed his lead. Daughter Penelope Sycamore, writes plays because one day a typewriter was mistakenly delivered to the house. Her husband, Paul makes fireworks in the basement. Daughter Essie has taken ballet lessons for eight years from Boris Kolenkhov, a Russian emigre. Essie's husband Ed plays the xylophone and prints phrases from whatever book or manifesto inspires him. The household help just kind of showed up one day and stayed. The only normal member of the family Alice works on Wall Street and has recently fallen for her boss, Tony Kirby.  It is their engagement that leads to the main conflict as the Kirby family is invited to dinner with Alice's strict instructions that, for once, everyone behave like how she thinks normal people should behave. Needless to say hijinks ensue.

Enveloped in the marvelous home designed by David Rockwell and with beautiful period costumes by Jane Greenwood, every member of the cast shines. Leading off is James Earl Jones as Grandpa Vanderhof, simply bemused by life and his family, yet grounded in love and his faith.  Kristine Nielsen brings her usual comic flair as momma Penelope, whether auditioning Julie Halston's insane lush actress, painting Patrick Kerr's Mr. DePinna or herding cats. (adoption of said kittens is possible inquire at the theater)  Mark Linn-Baker balances the pyro his Paul Sycamore is so fond of with genuine love and compassion for his harried daughter, Alice. Rose Byrne makes an impressive Broadway debut as the normal Alice, showing in her delight at being in love that she's inherited just as much emotional vibrancy from her Vanderhof/Sycamore genes as the rest of the family.

What a pair is Patrick Kerr's naive Ed and Annaleigh Ashford's ever dancing Essie. If you want to take notes on comic genius, just watch the perfect landing when Ms. Ashford delicately poses next to Johanna Day's regal Mrs. Kirby. It would also be remiss to forget to mention Elizabeth Ashley's spot on Grand Duchess Olga. Her time on stage is oh so brief, yet this refugee from the Russian revolution who is now the best hash slinger in New York City is a gem.

It feels inadequate to leave out the rest of the large cast. Let's just say that even the G-men are perfectly cast.  It would be easy to embrace the crazy, so hats off to director Scott Ellis for remembering the love and humanity at the heart of this play.

You Can't Take It With You is being performed at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. For tickets and other performance information please visit http://youcanttakeitwithyoubroadway.com/