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June 13, 2013

Crossroads Rep opens with ‘You Can’t Take It With You’

TERRE HAUTE — The 2013 summer season for Crossroads Repertory Theatre at Indiana State University bears the theme, Three Laughs and A Scream. It opens June 21 with a comedy that has remained popular since it was first staged in 1936: “You Can’t Take It With You.”

“One gets a sense of self-fulfillment, fun and joy from this play. I suspect it will still be done 50 years from now. It’s an endearing and enduring play,” says director Dale McFadden.

The comedy, set in the Great Depression, was written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1936. Inspired by eccentric members of their own families, Hart and Kaufman created a cast of endearing dreamers, misfits and lovable survivors. “During hard times, it’s your family who gives you support, love and acceptance,” McFadden added.

Grandpa Martin Vanderhof (Lew Hackleman) is the patriarch of the extended-family household. Years before, he had decided it is more important to enjoy the here-and-now than to work all the time. He keeps snakes at the house and hasn’t paid taxes in years.

His daughter, Penny Sycamore (Cathy Sponsler), writes plays and paints to pass the time. Never mind that she has no talent at either hobby. Her husband, Paul (Brandon Wentz), likes to build fireworks in the basement with Mr. De Pinna (Brad Venable), the iceman who came to the house eight years prior and never left.

The Sycamores’ daughter, Essie Carmichael (Ariana Cohen), dreams of one day being a professional dancer and takes lessons from Boris Kolenkhov (Josh Hoffman). She also makes candies, which her adoring husband, Ed (Rashad Ellis), distributes around town.

Two worlds collide when the Sycamores’ other daughter, Alice (Caitlin Jeanne Boho), invites her fiancé, Tony Kirby (Graham Emmons), and his well-to-do parents (Chuck Shutt and Sharon Ammen) over for dinner. They arrive on the wrong night, however, so Alice is not given time to prepare her family to hide their “craziness.” A parlor game brings both families together despite their vast differences — and the fireworks (figurative and literal) begin.

In the meantime, an IRS representative, Henderson (Sam Fain), is determined to collect Vanderhof’s back taxes. Can Vanderhof convince him and the Kirbys that, as far as money is concerned, “you can’t take it with you”?

Rounding out the large cast are Luke Carr, Caleb Clark and Brian Kogut as J-Men; Pam Virgilio and Peter Ciancone as the help in the Vanderhof home; Corinne Koller as Gay Wellington, a visiting actress; and Ashley Wolfe as the Russian Countess Olga, who has fled to America and now works as a waitress.

“You Can’t Take It With You” will be performed six times in the New Theater at Indiana State, 540 N. Seventh St. Additional performances are June 22 and 23 and July 16, 20 and 25. All begin at 7:30 p.m. except the Sunday, July 23, matinee at 4 p.m. After that matinee, McFadden and the entire cast will stay after to talk about the play and their production as well as answer audience questions.

Season tickets are available for $52, while admission to individual productions of the play is $15. Indiana State University students get one free ticket per show with student ID, while ISU faculty and staff can get tickets at a reduced price. They can be purchased online at www.crossroadsrep.com or at the box office located inside the theater. For additional information, call 812-237-3333.

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