Arts & Leisure

Truly, “You Can’t Take It With You”

“YOU CAN”T TAKE IT WITH YOU” at the Westminster Community Playhouse.

By Thom deMartino

True family is not always simply in blood shared, but found in the open, accepting and understanding heart.

It’s 1938 in “You Can’t Take It With You” as the audience is introduced to the home of Martin Vanderhof (Lewis Crowse), known affectionately to the household of lovable misfits as “Grandpa”: the motley household is made up not only of his daughter (and aspiring playwright) Penny (Sarah Hoeven), her fireworks-designing husband Paul (Michael Corcoran) and their daughters, the mild-mannered Alice (Emily Cantino) and obsessively-prancing ballet dancer Essie (Emily Turner).

Yet the extended family doesn’t stop there — there’s not only the blood relatives, but those picked up and accepted into the fold over the years. Essie’s husband Ed (Eduardo Mora), who sells candy and has a fascination with his own home printing press (no Microsoft Word in that day!); Mr. DePinna (Rick Werblin), who came to deliver ice to the home eight years before, and never left; the bit absent-minded, but well-meaning Donald (Eric Johns); cook and housekeeper Rheba (Laurie Robbins); and Essie’s Russian ballet instructor Boris Kolenkhov (a scene-stealing Eric Schiffer.)

It’s almost an unusual little society all in itself: into which is thrown daughter Alice’s eager but hapless gentleman caller, Tony Kirby Jr. (Jason Cook) — who just so happens to be  the son of her boss, Mr. Kirby (Bill Carson.) Unbeknownst to her family, the pair have had a budding romance for some time now: and she’s about to pop the question — that is, can the family feign normality long enough for a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (Toni Beckman) and to make a good impression — on their potential in-laws?

Westminster Community Playhouse’s 2017-2018 season has drawn to a close with “You Can’t Take It With You”, but it was certainly intriguing to see how this circa-1930’s play translated to modern day. While the piece was well-performed, the sheer number of characters could be overwhelming to a modern audience more accustomed to a production with less characters and a tighter storyline — but that can certainly be attributed to the sprawling nature of the Depression-era writing.

There were plenty of stand-out performances and memorable characters, particularly Schiffer’s Boris, and Kip Hogan as the chronically-inebriated actress Gaye Wellington. Beckman’s Mrs. Kirby, while having a relatively brief appearance in the story, had some strikingly funny moments, particularly when playing a party game with Penny and the family.

“You Can’t Take It With You” may have closed out the 2017-2018 season at Westminster Community Playhouse, but soon the 2018-2019 will be in full swing, beginning in July with “All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

“You Can’t Take It With You”, Lewis Crowse, Sarah Hoeven, Emily Cantino and Jason Cook starred in this production about an extended eccentric family, and what really gives value to life. Recently finished its run at the Westminster Community Playhouse, 7272 Maple St, Westminster, CA 92683. Ticketing information for other productions will be available online at, or call 714-893-8626.

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