Written in 1936 by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, the play follows the Sycamore family and their circle of eccentric friends. Alice Sycamore, the “normal” one, becomes engaged to Tony Kirby, the son of a wealthy Wall Street businessman. When the two families come together, there are fireworks – literally.
The cast of eighteen has excellent rapport with each other and captures the essence of a real family with panache. The ensemble contains a host of Seattle’s most seasoned actors – Anne Allgood, R. Hamilton Wright, and Mark Chamberlin to name a few. Everyone has spot-on comic timing, and finds obvious joy in the script’s abundant humor. As the young lovers, Elise Karolina Hunt and the Jimmy Stewart-esque Ben Hollandsworth are the picture of youthful 1936 innocence and elegance, while Annette Toughtonghi is especially delightful as the comic, would-be dancer Essie. Special note must be taken of Michael Winters as the Grandfather, the voice of reason and wisdom in the household. He has a knowing way about him, and an ease that make it impossible not to believe his character’s sentiments. Also included in the cast are Ian Bell, Frank Corrado, David Drummond, Curtis Eastwood, Brandford Farwell, Allen Galle, Cecil Luellen, and Khatt Taylor.
The set design by Michael Ganio is realistically cluttered with eccentric knickknacks, feeling inviting and lived in. Beautiful costumes by Frances Kenny are reminiscent of old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films, while the renowned Warner Shook’s direction crafts an overall sense of fun and contentment.
The real genius in this show is the writing. The script is quick and witty, clichéd only to the point of sweetness. It does have its dated moments, however, especially regarding the two African-American characters. This being 2008, it would have been gratifying if the Rep had edited out these offenses as they were, for the most part, gratuitous to the story.
Besides this misstep, the production is lively, colorful, and entertaining, while reminding us that money is really not what matters.