The ancient Egyptians tried it and President Clinton's tax reform may preclude it, but the bottom line remains the same: "You Can't Take It With You."
Those who think they can, or like to laugh at those who try, ought to see the Carroll Players' production of the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart comedy of that name, opening tonight for eight performances at Frock's Sunnybrook Farm, 112 Bond St., Westminster.
This brilliant satire about money, power, the political system and their effect on two very different families loses none of its original punch under the staging of veteran Carroll Players director Marcie Bogash.
A spirited cast includes many faces familiar to area audiences.
Eric Lynga, 17, a senior at North Carroll High School, plays Tony Kirby, the love-struck beau of Alice Sycamore, portrayed by UMBC freshman Kim Masimore.
Mr. Lynga was seen recently in September Song's production of "Anything Goes."
"I was asked to audition for the role of Tony," he said the other evening at a technical rehearsal. "And I was thrilled when I got it."
He hopes for a professional career in theater or film or both, he said.
"I just finished auditioning for a dramatic arts scholarship at the University of Maryland and have applied to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York."
Bill Ruff, a real estate agent with Long and Foster and a Finksburg resident, makes his stage debut in a snap-brim fedora as a no-nonsense G-man who bursts onto the scene with riotous alacrity.
The Sycamores with their loyal tax-evading grandfather, Martin Vanderhof, are surrounded by an odd collection of friends and hangers-on, including ex-Russian aristocrats fallen to making a living in Depression-era New York; a servant who jumps at literally everything; and her boyfriend, Donald, who complains about having to wait in the relief line for his check each week.
The free-wheeling Sycamores are led by Penelope Sycamore, who envisions herself as a playwright and artist. She is played with great comic timing and perfect understatement by Rose Bryson.
Penelope is described by Kaufman and Hart as a "round little woman in her 50s, comfortable-looking, gentle, homey. One would not suspect that under that gentle exterior there surges the Divine Urge -- but it does, it does."
Jim Naylor as the tax-evading Grandpa Vanderhof is wonderful. He plays the role in a thoughtful, almost Jimmy Stewart-esque manner, carefully choosing his words and infuriating Mr. Henderson, the tax collector, portrayed by Dick Horn.
"Why, the government gives you everything. It protects you," says Mr. Henderson, trying to get through Grandpa's head why he has to pay taxes.
"What from?" says Grandpa.
"Well -- invasion. Foreigners that might come over here and take everything you've got." Henderson persists, "If you didn't pay an income tax, they would. How do you think the government keeps up the Army and Navy? All those battleships. . ."
Grandpa, not the least bit swayed, says, "Last time we used battleships was in the Spanish-American War, and what did we get out of it? Cuba -- and we gave that back. I wouldn't mind paying if it were something sensible."
"Well, what about Congress, and the Supreme Court and the president? We've got to pay them, don't we?" says Henderson, on the edge and about ready to strangle Grandpa.
"Not with my money -- no, sir," says Grandpa.
This gang of loonies is brought into social intercourse with the Kirbys, Wall Street, Park Avenue and Bar Harbor, and the mother and father of Tony, who has fallen in love with Alice and who comes for a visit to the Sycamores on the wrong day.
The Sycamores, who are struggling because of the Depression, enjoy life. The Kirbys, surrounded by luxury and financial security, have only indigestion and poor health to show for their privileged lives.
Other noteworthy performances are delivered by:
Megan Raub, also from North Carroll High, who plays the Sycamore daughter, Essie.
Paul Zimmerman as the bombastic dance instructor and Russian emigre, Boris Kolenkhov. He fairly swoons over Hilda Uhlig, who gives a charming cameo as the Duchess Olga Katrina.
The duchess, dressed in feathers and furs though now in much reduced circumstances, breaks up the show with, "I verk in Times Square at Voolverths."
And the whiffle-cut Donald, the goofy complainer and boyfriend of the cook-maid, Kathy Schnorr, is played in a perfectly dim-witted manner by Doug Chandler.
Show dates are today and March 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. Tickets, for dinner and the show, are $18; on March 11 and 18 they are $17. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.; the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Scharon's Black Eagle in Westminster; the Treat Shop in Cranberry Mall; and Long's Florist, Hampstead and Finksburg. Information: 876-2220.