Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

May 8, 2014

Area theaters take a step back to 1937 with "Of Mice and Men" and "You Can't Take It With You"


Niagara Gazette — Whereas George and Lenny sweat for their stake, Grandpa distributes his, having shoved his 9-to-5 and opened his digs to a menagerie ranging from alcoholic actress to part-time pryotechnician.

Andrea Letcher glows as the attention-challenged Penny, percolating from one endeavor to another – playwright, novelist, artist, game-show hostess. Penny never painted a portrait as vivid as the reality Letcher gives to this airily sensual optimist. “Everybody got sex?” she flightily inquires. No, but we’ll take a number and wait our turn.

Among others who bring it with them: Cassandra Grizanti as the clumsy, confectioner Essie, Diane Serra and Tom Slaiman making the politically incorrect servants’ roles their own and Steve Jakiel as the master of extreme, full-contact ballet. Every part fits. Director Gary Gaffney cast no small actors.

Grim, inevitable “Mice & Men” takes Mothers Day off. “Can’t Take” seems just the ticket. Each runs through May 18, plenty of time to take in two talented takes on the way it was.

Doug Smith, age 2 when both debuted, has reviewed local theater since 1968.

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