Centerpoint Legacy Theatre’s 2017 season started off with a bang — literally.
On Friday's opening night performance, CenterPoint’s stage was filled with fireworks (not real), ballet dancing, witty jokes, two polar opposite families and a live snake (very real) during Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s comedic play, “You Can’t Take It With You.”
Running through Feb. 4, the charming production leaves the audience with its title as the main message: “You Can’t Take It With You.”
When Tony Kirby, the son of a shrewd and very wealthy businessman, falls in love with Alice Sycamore, who belongs to a wacky and crazy family, he and his family realize that although money is wonderful, in the end “you can’t take it with you and all you have are the relationships you are blessed with,” according to the playbill.
The production features two casts performing on alternate nights. Alice and Tony, played on Friday by real-life husband and wife Amanda Rumsey-Morgan and Jared Morgan, are easy to love as they work to merge their families together. While both characters come from different backgrounds, they sincerely express their love for each other and for each of their unique family members.
The patriarch of the Sycamore family, Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, spends most of the play in his rocking chair with his pet snake. He left his job years earlier because it “didn’t make him happy.” Mike Brown, who plays Grandpa Vanderhof in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday cast, portrays the character in a way that generates laughter and genuine contemplation from the audience.
Director Jennie Richardson has had “over 25 years of theater background, including acting, directing and costuming,” according to the playbill. In “You Can’t Take It With You,” she had the opportunity to do all three: She played the role of Penelope Sycamore, Alice’s mother, directed the play and designed the actors’ costumes.
While playing the role of Penelope, Richardson does a wonderful job blending humor, love of her family and self-acceptance. The actors who portray the other members of the off-the-wall Sycamore family came together in an authentic and likable way to create the hilarious dynamics of the individual characters.
Meanwhile, Scott Taylor and Meredith Gibson — who played the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Kirby — convincingly show a change of heart as they learn a thing or two from the Sycamore family.
Amelia Joan Bowles, who played the role of Essie Carmichael, Alice’s not-so-grateful ballet dancing sister, brings an added measure of humor to the stage when she pairs up with her Russian ballet teacher, Boris Kolenkhov, played by Josh Curtis, who steals the show with his loud and hilariously timed comments.
“You Can’t Take It With You” is a heartwarming comedy with a simple storyline about finding true happiness through relationships with friends and family members.
Content advisory: “You Can’t Take It With You” depicts one character smoking a pipe, contains a single instance of mild language and includes a few instances of mild sexual references and innuendos.