Family fun still has some sparks, as evidenced by "You Can't Take It With You," now playing on Broadway. Here's why you'll see it:
1. For the big-name stars
“You Can’t Take It With You” is the Broadway debut for screen star Rose Byrne. Here, she plays Alice Sycamore, the granddaughter to a patriarch (James Earl Jones) who thinks everyone should live freely and only do what makes them happy. Essie (Annaleigh Ashford), his youngest grandchild, loves ballet so she takes dance lessons — regardless of the fact that she is terrible at it. This philosophy is complicated when Alice decides she’s happy being normal, working in an office and marrying a successful businessman — making her the black sheep of her kooky clan. When her family meets her fiance’s for dinner, the result is explosive.
2. For the feel-good moments
At its heart, this play is about family — and that’s why it has endured. That’s not just a sappy sentiment, either: The Sycamores are compulsive and flawed people, and they’re very set in their ways. Anyone can relate to the feelings Alice experiences of loving her kin and wanting to murder them at the same time. Similarly, her beau Tony (Fran Kranz) is annoyed by his own cold and stodgy upper-class parents. James Earl Jones is the driving force behind the warmth in this play, as the grandpa everyone wishes they had —a wise and respectable, yet witty and stubborn leader whose eccentricities beget insights that become core themes for the play.
3. For the special effects
You don’t go into most traditional family plays expecting warning signs in the lobby about smoke, fog, loud noises and pyrotechnics. But in Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, these effects are used in abundance. They keep the show feeling fresh and exciting, even after a century of revivals. And the tricks have to be good to live up to the rest of the staging, which is immediately impressive: The Sycamore home is a swiveling two-story structure chock-a-block with rich eye candy like books, paintings, clocks, toys and assorted paraphernalia. Every time the set reveals itself, though unchanging, it’s still a spectacle.
If you go
‘You Can’t Take It With You’
Through Jan. 4, 2015
220 W. 48th St.
For more Broadway news and reviews, follow T. Michelle Murphy on Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy.