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Twin Beach Players’ You Can’t Take It With You

Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy yields a full house of fun

(photo by Rachel Weaver) Jeff Larsen as Grandpa (Martin Vanderhof) leads the Sycamore family in a prayer for sanity in You Can’t Take It With You, a comedy on the social and political context of family life.

It takes chutzpah to put on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, but Twin Beach Players thrives on challenge.

For 19 years, the company has staged up to five productions a year, enlivening Calvert County with community theater.

This spring’s venture is You Can’t Take It With You, George Kaufman and Moss Hart’s 1936 comedy on the social and political context of family life.

Directed by Cathy Diggle, the play follows the daily life of the Sycamores, a dysfunctional but loving family, in their New York apartment. Drama erupts when daughter Alice, played by Amy Prieto, wants to introduce the family to the parents of her wealthy fiancé, Tony, played by Joshua Scott.

Twin Beach Players has adopted the costume, set design and acting style of 1930s’ New York. Many props are authentic to the time, according to set designer Sid Curl.

The accomplished cast ranges from 17 to 67 years old. Many of the younger players have come through the Twin Beach Players’ Youth Troupe, while some of the senior players have been with the company since its beginning.

Jeff Larsen plays family patriarch Martin Vanderhof. A founding member, Larsen has acted with the company since 1998. Also with the company from the beginning is Frank Antonio, who plays Paul Sycamore, Martin’s son-in-law and husband to Penelope who, played by Rachel Crites Cruz, opens the play.

Jenny Liese is Essie, aspiring ballerina and sister to Alice. In great comedic fashion, Essie clumsily prances about the apartment as her husband, Ed (Aidan Cleary Davis), plucks at a xylophone in the background.

Also part of the family is Mr. De Pinna, the Sycamores’ shuffling neighbor who spends his time experimenting with fireworks in the basement with Paul. De Pinna is played by Curl, who has been with the company since 2000.

Maid and cook Rheba, played by Aaliyah Roach, completes the family. Frequent guests include Rheba’s enthusiastic boyfriend Donald (Tyler Vaughn) and Boris Kolenkhov (Kevin McAndrews), Essie’s flamboyant Russian dance teacher.

Throughout the play, a multitude of eccentrics call on the Sycamores. Through no ill intent, they are accosted by IRS Agent Henderson (Rick Thompson) and two government officials (Rick Thompson and E.J. Roach). Drunken actress Gay Wellington (Jeanne Louise) falls asleep on the family’s couch.

The Sycamores also find room to entertain Olga Katrina (Angela Sunstone), Grand Duchess of Russia and friend to Kolenkhov. Guests of honor are Tony’s uptight parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (Thomas Weaver and Lindsay Haas).

Many of the costumes are a visual treat. Alice and Mrs. Kirby shimmer in their gowns, the proper going-out attire of the 1930s. Mr. De Pinna as he poses for a portrait, dressed in nothing but a short sack.

Thanks to a strong production crew, the performance moved smoothly. Paul and Mr. De Pinna’s popping fireworks at times startled, as we had been warned.

“Yes, they are loud,” the announcer says before the play, “And yes, you will have the bejesus scared out of you.”

Fireworks and all, Twin Beach Players’ You Can’t Take it With You is a delight that leaves you thinking. Wacky as it is, many of it themes parallel events of today.

“It has its controversial moments,” Curl says.

Thru April 9: ThFSa 8pm, Su 3pm, Boys & Girls Club, North Beach, $15 w/discounts, rsvp:

www.twinbeachplayers.org.