Best Stage Comedy

You Can't Take It With You, Great Lakes Theater Festival

It's easy to laugh at the eccentrics among us. It's much harder to make us care. That's the challenge for any theater company daring to tackle You Can't Take It With You. This comedy gem by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman is frequently staged, but rarely done right. Fortunately, this Great Lakes Theater Festival presentation made each character uniquely human. Director Drew Barr and his talented performers created a sympathetic set of unhinged nutballs. Among them: a woman who writes plays because a typewriter was once mistakenly delivered to her house, and a distracted fellow who assembles fireworks in the basement. By focusing on the characters' yearning for individuality, rather than on their peculiarities, this production combined the warmth of Mr. Rogers with the weirdness of Pee-wee Herman.