The Asolo Repertory Theatre's five-year American Character project started in November with the outstanding season opening musical "1776," a patriotic powerhouse about the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The professional Sarasota company continues its exciting examination of what it means to be a citizen of this country with the Depression-era comedy "You Can't Take It With You," which launches the actual rep portion of the season this week.
The 1937 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart focuses on the lives of families who are polar opposites. One bohemian and happy, the other rich and rigid.
Peter Amster, now in his fifth season with Asolo Rep, directs "You Can't Take It With You."
"I've been wanting to direct this play for 40 years," said Amster, whose credits include dance consultant on "The Grapes of Wrath," which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1990.
"It's a dream come true."
Peggy Roeder, who played Mrs. Higgins in Asolo Rep's wonderful 2011 production of "My Fair Lady," plays Penny Sycamore, the matriarch of the Vanderhof-Sycamore clan.
Gail Rastorfer (Mrs. Kirby) and Tyla Abercrumbie (Rheba) are new to Asolo Rep, and will also have roles in this season's upcoming production of "The Heidi Chronicles."
Members of the Asolo Repertory Theatre company and the third-year class of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training round out the cast of "You Can't Take It With You," which has been lauded for its timeless charm.
"It's almost shocking how contemporary this play feels, the dialogue feels completely of our time," Amster said. "The only thing missing is cell phones and computers."
Details: Jan. 4-April 20, Mertz Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $20-$72. Information: 941-351-8000 or www.asolorep.org.