The Story:

The family of Martin Vanderhof lives "just around the corner from Columbia University-but don't go looking for it" Grandpa, as Martin is more commonly known, is the paterfamilias of a large and extended family: His daughter, Penny, who fancies herself a romance novelist; her husband, Paul, an amateur fireworks expert; their daughter, Alice an attractive and loving girl who is still embarrassed by her family's eccentricities-which include a xylophone player/leftist leaflet printer, an untalented ballerina, a couple on relief, and a ballet master exiled from Soviet Russia. When Alice falls for her boss, Tony, a handsome scion of Wall Street, she fears that their two families-so unlike in manner, politics, and finances-will never come together. During a disastrous dinner party, Alice's worst fears are confirmed. Her prospective in-laws are humiliated in a party game, fireworks explode in the basement, and the house is raided by the FBI. Frustrated and upset Alice intends to run away to the country, until Grandpa and Co.-playing the role of Cupid-manage not only to bring the happy couple together, but to set Tony's father straight about the true priorities in life. After all, why be obsessed by money? You can't take it with you...


Wednesday March 20 7:00 PM

Thursday, March 21 7:00 PM

AUDITIONS will be in a group format with no appointment necessary. Auditions will consist of a cold reading from the script; there is no need to prepare a monologue. All actors are encouraged to audition, regardless of age, ethnicity or level of experience.

Auditions, Rehearsals and Performances are at:

Curtain Call Front Street Theatre

11112 Front Street
Mokena IL 60448


Sunday 4:30-8:30, Tuesday and Thursday 7:00-9:30 PM

First rehearsal is Sunday March 24.

Be prepared to provide all schedule conflicts between 

March 24 and June 2. 

Tech week starts June 2, attendance during tech week is mandatory.

Director: Matt Carey


June 7-9,14-16, 2024

Curtain Call Front Street Theatre

11112 Front Street
Mokena IL 60448


Ed Carmichael - Essie’s husband Ed, as the stage directions inform, is a “nondescript naive man” in his thirties. He is a musician and composer who likes to play the xylophone as well as ply his trade as an amateur printer. As a hobby, he uses his hand-press to print sayings which he comes across in the writings of the revolutionary Russian Communist Leon Trotsky, such as “God Is the State; the State is God.” Proud of his work, he encloses these printed bills in the boxes with Essie’s candy. Although Ed prints his slogans just for the fun of it, their political messages attract the attention of the F.B.I., who believe Ed is an insurrectionist attempting to undermine the United States government.

Essie Carmichael  -  Mrs. Sycamore’s eldest daughter, Essie Carmichael, is a woman over 29 who is an aspiring ballerina. She dances her way through the play, improvising steps to her husband Ed’s xylophone music and eagerly following the instructions of her dance instructor, Mr. Kolenkhov. She makes candy, naming her newest confections “Love Dreams,” but she never takes off her ballet slippers even when she dons her candy-making apron. Like the other Sycamores, Essie is both happily absorbed in tasks which amuse her and wholly undisturbed by the eccentricities of her family.

Mr. De Pinna - Described in the stage directions as a “little man with a serious manner,” the middle-aged Mr. De Pinna arrived at the Vanderhof residence eight years ago to deliver ice and ended up moving in. Although a minor character, he shows how open and accepting the Vanderhof-Sycamore family can be: everyone is obviously welcome in this house. Mr. De Pinna has clearly taken to this family’s way of life. He helps Paul make firecrackers, poses in Roman costume for Penny’s painting of a discus thrower, and remains undisturbed by the chaotic household.

Donald - Rheba’s boyfriend, Cheerful and at ease in the household, he is a comic character who willingly runs errands and occasionally offers amusing comments.

F.B.I. agents - The three F.B.I. agents (G-men) who come to investigate the seemingly political papers Ed Sycamore has been enclosing in candy boxes.

Henderson - Henderson is the Internal Revenue Department agent who comes to collect twenty-two years’ back income tax from Grandpa Vanderhof.

Mr. Kirby - Tony’s father, Mr. Kirby, is a successful Wall Street businessman. He is a traditional authority figure who represents the conventional worldview the Vanderhof-Sycamores reject. Conservative and repressed, he has perpetual indigestion and tells his wife he thinks “lust is not a human emotion.” He is initially shocked by Alice’s family and says Grandpa Vanderhof’s idea of doing only what makes you happy is a “a very dangerous philosophy . . . it’s un-American.”

Mrs. Kirby - Tony’s mother, Mrs. Kirby, is the conservative female equivalent of her businessman husband. She, too, is shocked by the unconventional Vanderhof-Sycamores. She is affronted when Penny says spiritualism is “a fake” and seems to reveal she is dissatisfied with her marriage when in the word game she associates “honeymoon” with “dull” and almost admits that Mr. Kirby talks about Wall Street even during sex.

Tony Kirby - Tony Kirby is a Vice President of Kirby & Co., his father’s business. The stage directions tell us he is a “very nice young man” who has recently attended Yale and Cambridge. He has fallen in love with Alice Sycamore and wants to marry her. Now that he’s done with college he believes, as he tells Grandpa Vanderhof, that now “the fun’s over, and—I’m facing the world,” but his contact with Alice’s family teaches him that if he makes the right choices his fun may just be starting. He purposely brings his parents to the Vanderhof-Sycamore house on the wrong night because, as he says to his father, “I wanted you to see a real family—as they really were. A family that loved and understood each other.” Determined to do something that he wants to do, Tony rejects his father’s business and embraces the Vanderhof s philosophy of seeking happiness over wealth.

Boris Kolenkhov (ko-len-kawv) - Essie’s dance instructor Boris Kolenkhov is introduced in the stage directions as an “enormous, hairy, loud” Russian. A comic character, he contributes to the chaotic activity in the Vanderhof-Sycamore home, encouraging Essie to dance and wrestling with the unsuspecting Mr. Kirby. He has a habit of conveniently arriving just in time for meals.

Grand Duchess Olga Katrina - The Grand Duchess Olga is a Russian friend of Kolehnkov’s who has fallen on hard times following the Communist Revolution in Russia. She is now a waitress and has a talent for making blintzes. She prepares the bountiful meal of blintzes which everyone sits down to at the conclusion of the play.

Rheba - Rheba is the Sycamore family’s efficient, practical, and adaptable maid. During the course of the play’s action, however, Rheba emerges as a distinct individual, speaking her mind and holding her own within the eccentric household.

Alice Sycamore - Alice Sycamore is Penny’s attractive younger daughter. Alice has, according to the stage directions, “escaped the tinge of mild insanity” that pervades her relatives, but her “devotion and love for them are plainly apparent.” The only member of the family with a regular job, she is a secretary at a Wall Street firm and has fallen in love with the boss’s son, Anthony Kirby, Jr. Although she loves Tony, she fears his conservative parents will never accept her family’s eccentricities. Since Alice is a “normal” and likeable character, the audience is likely to sympathize with her and share her point-of-view.

Paul Sycamore - Penny’s husband Paul Sycamore Quiet, charming, and mild-mannered, he never loses his composure, even when the fire crackers he makes in the basement with Mr. De Pinna unexpectedly explode. Like his wife and father-in-law, Paul possesses what the stage directions call “a kind of youthful air.” A complete contrast to a disgruntled businessman such as Mr. Kirby, Paul contentedly pursues his chosen activities, such as making new “skyrockets” and building things with an Erector Set.

Martin Vanderhof - Grandpa Vanderhof, a man whom the years have treated kindly. One day thirty-five years ago he gave up his business career, since, as he explains to Mr. Kolenkhov, it struck him that he “wasn’t having any fun.” So he “just relaxed” and has “been a happy man ever since.” He now has “time enough for everything” and, as he tells Mr. Kirby, he no longer has “six hours of things I have to do every day before I get one hour to do what I like in.” Grandpa collects stamps, throws darts, attends the commencement speeches at Columbia University, and encourages his family to follow his example and do only what makes them happy. He hasn’t payed income tax in twenty-two years because he doesn’t think the government does anything useful with the money. He provides the philosophical center of the play, explaining the folly of seeking material wealth at the expense of personal fulfillment, and asking only, as he says while saying grace before dinner, that their family be allowed “to go along and be happy in [their] own sort of way.”

Penelope Vanderhof Sycamore - Grandpa Vanderhof s daughter, Penny Sycamore, is the first character on stage in You Can’t Take It with You.  An endearing woman, who loves nothing more than writing plays. As eccentric as the other members of her family, Penny was an enthusiastic painter but gave up this hobby for writing when a typewriter was delivered to the house by mistake eight years earlier. Charmingly blunt, she causes some embarrassment during the Kirbys’ visit, Penny’s enjoyment of life and direct speech are in marked contrast to Mrs. Kirby’s seeming discontent and reserved acceptance of social conventions.

Gay Wellington - Gay Wellington, described in the stage directions as “an actress, nymphomaniac, and a terrible souse,” comes to the Sycamore house to discuss a script with Penny but then passes out on the couch. She occasionally awakens, usually just in time to contribute to the chaos that erupts following the Kirbys’ unexpected visit.

YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU is presented by special arrangement with Broadway Licensing, LLC servicing the Dramatists Play Service collection. (