A theatrical recipe: ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ opens at CCA

Young lovers Alice (Emilie Pennington-Davis) and Tony (Jameson Cannon) enjoy a happy moment, though clashing family personalities intrude, temporarily, with their plans to marry.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Young lovers Alice (Emilie Pennington-Davis) and Tony (Jameson Cannon) enjoy a happy moment, though clashing family personalities intrude, temporarily, with their plans to marry.

“You Can’t Take It With You,” the iconic comedy from Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, arrives on Hood River’s theatrical doorstep Friday.


Performances are Aug. 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Aug. 26 at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students.

Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels.

The play is suitable for all ages; expect a few scenes with loud off-stage noises.

All tickets available at Waucoma Books and online at www.showtix4u.com

The comedy is a Plays for Non-Profits production, the first to be held at Columbia Center for the Arts in three years. Proceeds benefit the senior nutrition program Meals on Wheels, according to producer Lynda Dallman.

Tom Burns directs, with veteran comic and dramatic actor David Dye in the central role of Martin “Grandpa” Vanderhof, paternal host of a happy, unconventional 1938 New York home where young and old pursue their passions, including dancing, playwriting, and fireworks. Grandpa and the Sycamore clan welcome any and all and do not stand on ceremony.

Into this pleasantly chaotic setting comes young Tony (Jameson Cannon), who is in love with Alice Sycamore (Emilie Pennington-Davis). At an inopportune time, Tony’s stuffy, high society parents (Michael Beckner and Rebecca Stryker) enter the scene, as does a set of federal agents, with comic results.

The tale all happens in the Vanderhof living room, where happy and seemingly-crazy events converge. It’s just your typical tale of girl meets boy, families get in the way, girl and boy lose each other, but true love, family and common sense prevail.


David Dye as “Grandpa.”

“You Can’t Take It With You” was made into a memorable movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore.

“This play is clearly one of the best-loved plays ever,” Burns said. It not only won several Tony Awards, the Pulitzer prize, and the movie version won the Oscar for Best Picture, but in 2015, James Earl Jones and cast won the Tony for Best Revival.

The humor is farcical in many places, subtle in others, with a tax man’s abandoned fedora claimed as Grandpa’s new favorite hat serving as a sweet allegory for savoring and enjoying the life you have in front of you.

“This infectious and endearing play is universal in its themes about love, family and the pursuit of happiness,” Burns said. “It deftly blends elements of farce, slapstick, whimsical humor, social commentary and romance, together with a generous dash of good-natured optimism about the human condition.

“At first, we think these characters are oddballs, but as the play goes on, we begin to envy their freedom and joy in doing only what makes them happy.”

Burns cited these sayings as ones echoing the play’s themes:

“Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.” — William Feather

If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” — Proverb

“In the end, ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ reminds us that you can only live life to the fullest by doing whatever makes you happy. After all, you can’t take it with you,” Burns said.


Begoggled Paul (Erik Lundby) greets Mr. Kirby (Michael Beckner) and a shocked Mrs. Kirby (Rebecca Stryker).

Sets are by Harold McBain. Costumes are by Tay Camille Lynne, along with Adrian Chaton, who also serves as stage manager; Lynda Dallman is producer. Major funding is from Elaine Johnson, in memory of her husband, Scott.

Burns said, “Three years ago, Lynda Dallman approached me about directing ‘You Can’t Take It With You.’ I had heard of this classic comedy, but hadn’t ever actually seen it. So I agreed to read it, but I must confess that I had a preconceived notion that the play was dated. After all, it was nearly 80 years old! And so I politely declined her offer.

“Two years ago, Lynda asked me to reconsider. This time I believe I read no more than 10 pages before convincing myself that this play was no longer viable.

“I guess the third time’s the charm because when Lynda kindly asked me to revisit this amazing play, I realized her persistence deserved my full attention,” Burns said.

“As I read more and more, it became obvious why it remains one of the most frequently produced comedies in modern theater.”

Theater Notes: CGOA offers member packages

Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association (CGOA) is kicking off another season of performances and offering arts patrons new packages and member pricing.

An individual membership is $50, which includes reduced ticket prices of $15. Seniors are offered a membership rate of $30, which gives the over 65 crowd a $15 ticket. Youth pricing for ages 10-17 has been reduced to $5. Children under 10 are free.

Business sponsorships begin at $250.

The CGOA umbrella of performing groups includes the Sinfonietta orchestra, the Voci choir, the Jazz Collective Big Band and Stages Theater company. A full calendar of events and ways to become a member or sponsor are always on the CGOA website at www.gorgeorchestra.org.

‘Go Dog Go’ Sept. 8

“Go Dog Go” brings the adventures of P.D. Eastman’s book to a stage in a frolicking musical dog party full of surprises, color, clowning, vaudeville, singing/barking and, of course, six lovable dogs.

The Columbia Center for the Arts Children’s Theater production runs Sept. 8-16, directed by Sullivan Mackintosh (adapted by Steven Dietz, Allison Gregory, and Michael Koerne).

This play is appropriate for all ages (pre-kindergarten and older). Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students/seniors/military, $10 for children under 10, and $10 for groups of 10 or more. For group tickets, please come into the center or purchase via telephone at 541-387-8877 ext. 2. Tickets are available at CCA, 215 Cascade Ave in downtown Hood River. Tickets are non-refundable.

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