LOST IN YONKERS
The Group Rep/Lonny Chapman Theatre
Opens: September 8, 2017
Closes: October 22, 2017
The Group Rep presents Neil Simon’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning comedic drama directed by Larry Eisenberg, produced by Doug Haverty. This touching coming-of-age story set in Yonkers, New York, centers around two brothers whose mother has died, who are forced to live with their grandmother and their mentally challenged aunt, while their father travels, desperately trying to scrape together enough money to pay off his debts to a loan shark. The play opens Friday, September 8 at 8:00 pm, with reception to follow at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
"Find Yourself..."Lost in Yonkers" Neil Simon is one of the greatest comedic-dramatic playwrights of all time, and his Pulitzer Prize winning play, Lost in Yonkers, graces the stage at the Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in Noho arts district. Although this sentimental coming of age story takes place some 50 years ago, its message of family survival despite all odds (financial hardships; loss; disability) resonates with us today. The story is timely and contemporary, and topical to today’s troubled times, where families sometimes work odd jobs to scrape out a living and rely on extended family support, and the characters’ trials and tribulations affect us all emotionally. The play, directed by Larry Eisenberg, and produced by Doug Haverty, centers around two brothers, Jay (Bennett Saltzman) and Arty (Brent Anthony), whose mother has died and are forced to live with their grandmother (Loraine Shields) and mentally challenged Aunt Bella (Roslyn Cohn). Meanwhile, their father (Patrick Burke) is caught in a maelstrom of debt and financial desperation, having no other choice but to travel and leave his sons behind with his extended dysfunctional family. As his facial expressions truly reveal his inner angst, Burke is a remarkable actor, eliciting compassion and empathy from the audience. De rigueur, Simon effectively uses sarcasm and schtick, particularly by brother Louis (Van Boudreaux) and sister Bella, as well as witty dialogue ala shades of Woody Allen/ Larry David style humor. Overwhelmed and overworked, he counts on his boys to be strong, ironically depending on a clan of helplessly dysfunctional relatives coming to his aid. Simon’s witticisms and gems of dialogue are once again priceless in this comedic drama, as the two young men, lost in Yonkers, ultimately find themselves. Each character, in his or her own unique style, imparts words of wisdom, teaching us profound lessons on life, belonging, family, a home of one’s own."
"That is the outlook that informs the semi-autobiographical play Lost in Yonkers, another coming of age story but with a four-generational psychological through-line. It won Simon the 1991 Pulitzer Prize as well as a Tony Award. Whether it stands up as a true masterpiece over time remains to be seen. I suspect its strength depends, again, more on superb performance than on the script itself, at least judging from The Group Rep production now playing in Los Angeles, my first exposure to the work."
"Director Larry Eisenberg BRILLIANTLY inspires these fine actors to bring the wildly colorful characters to life. You can have a great script and wonderful cast, but without the skilled guidance of an inspired director even the best script can fall flat! This is a colorfully unique family… and a ton of fun!"
"After seeing the play, it is easy to understand how his brilliant character study and snappy dialogue garnered the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Neil Simon, and won the 1991 Tony Award for Best Play. And yet, until now it was one of Simon’s plays I had never seen before. With the totally realistic and old-fashioned apartment set designed by Chris Winfield, lighting design by Addison Calvin, period-perfect costume design by Angela M. Eads, with hair and make-up design by Judi Lewin, director Larry Eisenberg is to be commended for keeping the play moving along at a totally natural pace and allowing Simon’s characters to shine brightly while dealing with some of the darkest times in their lives."
"Group rep knocks Simon's Puitzer play out of the park. Great direction from Larry Eisenberg and perfect casting from top to bottom."
"The Group Rep’s production of this play is of the highest quality, superbly performed by an outstanding cast and superbly directed by Larry Eisenberg (Co-Artistic Director of the Lonny Chapman Theatre). It is a drama filled with emotion, but comedy persists as well. Every performer is outstanding and all actors dialects are perfect throughout. I must give extra kudos to Roslyn Cohn for her performance as Bella. - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"