By Julian Bonner
I came to this production with no prior knowledge of this play, so I didn't know what to expect. What a delightful surprise this was!
The fact that the events unfold during World War II is, for the most part, immaterial. We witness the extremely dysfunctional German-Jewish Kurnitz family, who nonetheless find a way to co-exist (for the most part) and who do truly care for one another - but who are utterly dominated by a distant and cold matriarch. So lets delve a little into these characters one by one.
Joseph Gugliotti as Arty is a true find. He is absolutely wonderful as the younger of the two siblings deposited unceremoniously and unwanted at their paternal grandmothers apartment, while their father travels for work to pay off a huge debt. Joseph brings both a naivety and joyous wit to this role and is totally believable.
(Fred Halperin & Joseph Gugliotti)
Ben Cordner as Jay, the elder brother is similarly excellent in portraying a maturing teenager both deferential and defiant - standing up for Arty when necessary yet desperate to extricate himself from the cloying, smothering domicile where he has been left.
(Fred Halperin & Ben Cordner)
Likewise, their father Eddie, played by the familiar Dan Hornberger, (who seems to be in everything recently!) vacillates between the cowed son and the dad desperate to provide for his own two boys following the tragic loss of their mother.
The remaining gentleman in this ensemble, Louie, Fred Halperin, who wears his gangster-like garb so well, deftly portrays the slick, wily uncle - what does he do for a living and is any of it legal?
Providing some comic relief with a very unfortunate, but hilarious speech impediment is Aunt Gert (Stephanie Weidner) - I would have loved to have seen more of her in the show.
(Joseph Gugliotti, Stephanie Weidner & Ben Cordner)
In the first of two stand-out performances, Pockets Seachrist as Bella is simply captivating (with a spot-on Bronx/Westchester NY accent) - they balance the total ditziness of a doting aunt with a desperate longing to simply be loved and accepted for who they are - absolutely superb.
(Joseph Gugliotti, Pockets Seachrist & Ben Cordner)
Tying the cast together beautifully, is the 'star' of the play, Grandma Kurnitz; a brilliant performance by Cathy Alaimo. She inhabits a German-Jewish immigrant (with another wonderful accent) and an incredibly nuanced role - the antagonist who doesn't appear to like or love anybody but is indefatigable in trying to ensure that her remaining children become as undaunted and fearless as she is.
(Joseph Gugliotti, & Cathy Alaimo)
Director, Michelle Rieder has brought together a marvelous ensemble and correctly notes that a dysfunctional family doesn't mean that everyone can't be accepted for who they are, and that people need to be loved and cared for despite their idiosyncrasies.
Credit also to the set and props designers for creating a gorgeous and realistic NY apartment building.
(Fred Halperin, Dan Hornberger, Stephanie Weidner, Pockets Seachrist, Joseph Gugliotti, Ben Cordner & Cathy Alaimo)
Lost in Yonkers plays through/including February,19th over 2 weekends with evening performances Thursday - Saturday at 8pm and Sunday matinees at 2pm.
All photos courtesy of our 2023 Media Sponsor: Stephen Gordon Studios www.stephengordonstudios.com