On September 28th, the cast of Lost in Yonkers set foot onstage for their second night and The Casella Theater was nearly packed with Soundings students, alumni, and community members. This Neil Simon play takes place in the 40s, and the costumes and set design are true to the era. The family members in the play are all German, but had come to America many years earlier. Now that the war is well underway and resources are becoming scarce, an opportunity to make money, and pay his debt to loan sharks, has become available to Eddie.
Ken Holmes plays the part of Eddie, the father of two boys, Jay and Arty. His wife had just died from cancer, and he must now make a tough decision: does he leave his sons with their mean Grandma Kurnitz in order to make money? Or does he let the clock tick and risk losing his life? Will their grandma have a bad effect on their physical and mental well-being like she had on her own children?
At first, Jay, played by Shawn Dayton, and Arty, played by Julian DeFelice, are not keen on spending ten months with the abusive and frigid grandmother, but warm up to the idea better than losing their father.
Grandma Kurnitz, played by Tirzha Osmun Palmer, is “like steel” and refuses the boys’ intrusion into her life. Courtney LaFlamme portrays Aunt Bella, who has other ideas, and without being phased by the grandmother’s decision to refuse the boys, she begins making up their bed and telling them to get their things packed.
The plot unfolds quickly after the boys decide to try to send their father money and directly disobey their grandma. The only way to get the money is to either steal it from grandma or do odd jobs for Uncle Louie, portrayed by David Gabaree. Louie is a henchman, or as Arty misunderstands earlier, a hunchback, and is elbow deep in trouble with the mob. He stays with the family to lie low, but only for a short period of time.
Shortly before leaving, he is a key element in an exploding family discussion. Bella wants to get married to a man she has just met and Louie is skeptical. During this scene, it is the first time we meet Gert, played by Michelle Page.
Gert has a breathing condition and while speaking, half her sentence is normal and the other half sounds like she is choking on her own words. “I don’t have it that much. It’s mostly when I come here,” she says to Jay and Arty later in the play.
By the end, the boys have grown to respect their grandmother, and almost love her. The family that was once in pieces is now slowly growing together and is on its way to becoming close to one another.
The audience, who had been glued to their seats the entire two hours, gave a warm and enthusiastic applause to the actors.
While Soundings students sat in their seats to fill out their cards, the rest of the audience lined up to leave. As they waited to exit the theater, conversations of people’s reactions seasoned the air.
“I’m going to tell my roommate she has to come,” said a female student.
President David Wolk paused on his way out to congratulate Susan Baker, Yonker’s director, on a job well done.
The audience didn’t expect to be lost in the stunning portrayal of this fantastic play, but that is exactly what happened.