Wednesday, February 04, 2009
THEATRE CEDAR RAPIDS STAGES ‘LOST IN YONKERS’
Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Neil Simon comes to TCR Lindale Feb. 13-22
CEDAR RAPIDS (Jan. 30, 2009): The first time Jason Alberty read “Lost In Yonkers,” he immediately recognized people he knew.
The director believes audiences at Theatre Cedar Rapids will have the same reaction.
“Most of us are dysfunctional in a way,” says Alberty, of Cedar Rapids. “Either we come from, or we know, a family who is dysfunctional. And by laughing at them, we are sort of laughing at ourselves and the stupid things we do.”
Audiences will get to test that theory when “Lost In Yonkers,” the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Neil Simon, opens Friday (Feb. 13) and continues through Feb. 22 at TCR Lindale, 4444 1st Ave. NE.
”Yonkers” is one of a long list of acclaimed plays by Neil Simon, who’s also known for “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot In The Park” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”
“It’s nice to get a really good, solid play,” Alberty says of directing “Yonkers.” “There aren’t a lot of those being written today.”
”Lost In Yonkers” is a coming-of-age story set in Yonkers, N.Y. Two boys, Arty (Nathan Kent of Marion) and Jay (Alex Schulte of Cedar Rapids) are forced to live for a year in their grandmother’s cramped apartment while their father Eddie (David Morton of Cedar Rapids) travels on business.
Comedy and drama both ensue as the boys attempt to survive the antics of their relatives, including the ultra-strict Grandma Kurnitz (Cherryl Moon Thomason of Cedar Rapids); their goofy but likeable aunts, Gertie (Carrie Fattig of Cedar Rapids) and Bella (Nicolette Coiner-Winn of Cedar Rapids); and the bizarre stories of their “gangster” Uncle Louie (Bill Lammers of Cedar Rapids).
As a language arts teacher at Cedar Rapids Washington, Lammers says he’s been teaching “Lost In Yonkers” to students for the past 15 years.
“I don’t think there’s another play out there that has a collection of characters like this,” says Lammers. “You have the two sisters, who have their own problems. You have Louie and Eddie, one of whom is over-the-top strong and one who is over-the-top weak. And you’ve got Grandma, who rules the place with an iron fist. These two boys are trying to figure out their place in it.”
For TCR Artistic Director Leslie Charipar of Cedar Rapids, that’s exactly what made Yonkers the right fit for Theatre Cedar Rapids’ 75th Anniversary Season. Charipar designed the season to have a “decades” theme, with each show representing a decade of the theater’s existence. “Yonkers” represented the 1940s – not just by its setting, but by the attitudes of its characters – and Charipar loved being able to fit one of the playwright’s works into the lineup.
“Neil Simon can connect with anyone, whether they are well-versed in theatre or not,” Charipar says. “He writes conversations the way that people talk, and he gets to the heart of a matter using humor and sensitivity all at the same time.”
”Yonkers” will be the first non-musical to be performed in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ temporary space at TCR Lindale, 4444 1st Ave. NE, but the cast isn’t worried about making the transition.
“I was here at rehearsal the other day watching from the back row, and there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house,” says Lammers. “I think it will work really well for a show like this.”
Cherryl Moon Thomason first saw “Lost In Yonkers” when the touring company performed it at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City.
“If you have a family, you want to see this,” she says. “There will be something here that you identify with. There will be a lot of laughs, and there will be a little poignancy. It’s got something for everybody.”
“Lost In Yonkers” will be performed Feb. 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 and 22 at TCR Lindale, 4444 1st Ave. NE (across from Lindale Mall). Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $20 or $25 ($15 for students) and can be purchased from the box office at 800 2nd Ave. SE, by phone at (319) 366-8591 or online at www.theatrecr.org. Rush tickets are available at the door for $10 half an hour before the start of each show. A “Talkback Thursday” discussion will be held following the Feb. 19 performance.
”Lost In Yonkers” is sponsored by RBC Wealth Management.
PHOTO CAPTION: The cast of “Lost In Yonkers” at Theatre Cedar Rapids includes (from left) Nathan Kent of Marion and Alex Schulte, David Morton, Cherryl Moon Thomason, Bill Lammers, Carrie Fattig and Nicolette Coiner-Winn, all of Cedar Rapids. “Lost In Yonkers” tells the story two boys (Kent and Schulte) who are forced to spend a year enduring the antics of their bizarre relatives in their grandmother’s cramped New York apartment. “Lost In Yonkers” will be performed Feb. 13-22 at TCR Lindale, 4444 1st Ave. NE. (Credit: Rob Merritt/Theatre Cedar Rapids)