The year is 1942. Tensions were running high throughout the world, sparking another major war between nations. This story focuses on one family in Yonkers, New York, and how they deal with their own tensions, sparking a war between emotions, doing what’s right, and the meaning of family. As the cast of the Newtown Arts Company get lost in their characters, audiences will get lost in the story, while we all get LOST IN YONKERS.
Like many families, especially during times of war, the Kurnitz family has to cope with loss and change. We first meet the youngest members of the family, brothers Jay (Jake Malavsky) and Arty (Gary Lumpkin). While the two reminisce, and educate the audience, about their crazy family, their father Eddie (Bruce Perlman) nervously paces as he enters and exits the stage, setting up for a big decision that will change their family dynamic.
As the older, supposedly wiser, brother, Malavsky showed a decent amount of range, transitioning from protective brother to distraught son to understanding nephew. Lumpkin was often rewarded with laughter from successfully delivering one-liners, but there were times he played the youngest brother a little too maturely. Even as a thirteen-and-a-half year old, some scenes could have used more child-like naivete from Arty. Perlman also has his range of emotions to work through, and he does so in a lukewarm fashion. With all the dilemmas he was facing, there was no real distinction between which one affected him more.
When we first meet crazy Aunt Bella (Margaret DeAngelis), we can tell by her dress and demeanor that she is special. We can also tell that DeAngelis knows what she’s doing. From her timing to her accent, she makes Bella the lovable character she’s meant to be. We also notice Bella’s growing strength. We see it in her physical appearance and hear it in her tone of voice throughout the play. Even though it’s not exactly a gradual change, it’s the most inspiring.
We also see a change in Grandma Kurnitz (Carole Mancini). The strong-willed matriarch is all business, no pleasure or hand-outs, even when it comes to her family who needs it the most. However, like most people, we see a positive change come out of love. Mancini fits well into Grandma’s shoes, even with a bit of shifting accents, she certainly does Grandma justice.
With a tough exterior and loving interior, Uncle Louie (Greg Millevoi) is the perfect man to have around the house, even though he’s only there hiding out. Millevoi is a natural in this role and on stage. He plays to the audience just as well as he interacts with his fellow cast members, and his man with moxie persona is complementary to his overprotective brother/uncle qualities.
We finally meet Aunt Gert (Lydia Goldberg) toward the end of the show. Arty sets high expectations in his imitations of her earlier in the performance, and I have to say he may have done a better job. While Goldberg took on a difficult task of playing a woman with an interesting malady, some of the humor and lines were lost at times during her relapses.
Overall, this emotional show was full of real moments in time we can all relate to on some level. There were a few times it felt repetitive, almost like the actors got too lost in their characters, making them lose their lines as well and having to backtrack. Occupational hazard. However, if you’re looking for a touching story with moxie, go get LOST IN YONKERS.
LOST IN YONKERS
by Neil Simon
Directed by Fran Kane
June 21-27, 2012
Newtown Arts Company
120 North State Street
I enjoyed your review and agreed with your comments. However, having also attended last night’s performance i am disappointed that this terrific cast will be judged by their first shot at performing this challenging play. I would like to personally invite you back for another performance (the ticket is on me) to have you see how far they’ve come with the adjustments they’ve made.
Thank you for your comments and offer, and I’m sure each performance will only get better!
Thank you for the review!