Bizarrely dysfunctional families have long been the meat and potatoes of dark comedy; but it’s tough to imagine someone coming up with, say, The Royal Tenenbaums if George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart hadn’t gotten there first in 1936 with the chaotically loopy Vanderhof/Sycamore/Carmichael clan. Their assorted eccentricities and the roadblocks that they place in the path of true love are the enduring subject matter of Kaufman and Hart’s Pulitzer Prizewinning masterpiece, You Can’t Take It with You.
The play is a perennial favorite for revival, a persistent crowdpleaser loaded with toothsome parts for actors – character actors especially – who like to fly their zaniness flags now and again. With the family’s patriarch, Grandpa Vanderhof, being a crank who ultimately brings the Feds down on his household because he’s 24 years in arrears on his income tax, You Can’t Take It with You took on fresh topicality with the Tea Party uprising.
Now it’s the Rhinebeck Theatre Society’s turn to mount a production, which opens this Friday for two weekends as the next installment in the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck’s Americana-themed 2016 stage season. Nicola Sheara directs. The show runs from February 12 to 21, with performances beginning at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $24 and $22, and can be ordered online at www.centerforperformingarts.org or by calling the box office at (845) 876-3080. The Center for Performing Arts is located at 661 Route 308, about 3.5 miles east of downtown Rhinebeck.