George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s silly and sentimental ensemble comedy “You Can’t Take It With You,” which won the 1937 Pulitzer for Drama, has not been seen on Broadway for three decades.
Like “Harvey,” “Arsenic and Old Lace” and Kaufman and Hart’s masterpiece “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” it’s an over-the-top, old-fashioned comedy and feel-good crowd-pleaser.
Its simple premise is similar to “La Cage aux Folles,” with a loony and lovable family being forcibly joined together with a boring, conservative one by their children.
The quirky family includes a serene and reflective grandfather who refuses to work or pay taxes, a father aspiring to be an inventor, a mother aspiring to be a playwright and a daughter aspiring to be a dancer. A normal daughter is also thrown in, who gets engaged to the son of a Wall Street exec.
The revolving set design, which contrasts the exterior of an idyllic Victorian town house with a detailed interior, reinforces the impression that you’ve taken a dizzying trip into Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
Scott Ellis’ zippy and giddy revival — which sports a top quality cast including James Earl Jones, Rose Byrne, Elizabeth Ashley, Kristine Nielsen, Julie Halston, Mark Linn Baker and Annaleigh Ashford all letting loose — has a comfort food, feel good flavor to it.
Byrne (“Bridesmaids”), making her Broadway debut, is fine enough in the most straight-laced and uninteresting role. Jones lends a warm presence and plays up the handful of moments where he defends his views and individuality.
Ashford, who constantly engages in aimless, spastic bits of movement, certainly stands out. Meanwhile, Nielsen shows off the same brand of giddy kookiness that characterized her performance in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
If you go:
‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is at Longacre Theatre through Jan. 4, 220 W. 48th St., telecharge.com.