Featured LEISURE

Take a step back to 1942 viewing ‘Lost in Yonkers’

Actors who will perform in the upcoming Scripps Ranch Theatre production of “Lost in Yonkers,” running May 19-June 11. (courtesy of SR Theatre)

Take a step back to 1942 viewing ‘Lost in Yonkers’

By Jill Alexander

You don’t have to go to New York to get a feel for the Big Apple.

Simply head over to Scripps Ranch Theatre to enjoy a performance of Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers” at the Legler Benbough Theatre on the campus of Alliant International University, and step back in time. 

If you’re unfamiliar, “Lost In Yonkers” was written by Simon, who is considered one of America’s great comic playwrights. The play is set in Yonkers in 1942.

Bella is 35 years old, mentally challenged, and living at home with her mother, stern Grandma Kurnitz. As the play opens, ne’er-do-well son Eddie deposits his two young sons on the old lady’s doorstep. He is financially strapped and taking to the road as a salesman.

The boys are left to contend with Grandma, Bella, and her secret romance, and with Louie, her brother, a small-time hoodlum in a strange new world called Yonkers.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play deceptively hides real honest life affirmation between jokes, and shows why Simon has been called “the Shakespeare of his time,” and possibly the “most successful playwright in history.”

“It’s a great comedy and there is a lot to discover with these characters. In his heyday, Neil Simon was terrific and prolific, and this play won a Pulitzer in 1991,” said director Jacquelyn Ritz.

It’s “a beautiful play and tells in-depth stories with great wit, great charm, hilarity and heart, and it’s really about the human experience,” she added.

Ritz said everyone is welcome and should attend, “because you will find yourself watching a family of three generations go through ups, downs, struggles and triumphs. It’s a family that functions with dysfunctions, working together, learning, growing and challenging each other.”

“There’s real love at the core and is a beautiful journey. You’ll pop on to be lost in something really wonderful and charming and hilarious at times for two hours. In a sense, it’s a relief that you can go through something difficult and come out better for it,” Ritz said.

“I think we can all identify with someone along the way, and it’s a nostalgic journey since it is in World War II in 1942 and power-packed with all sorts of stuff,” Ritz said. “It’s two young boys who are left without a mother, and the people trying to care for them in different ways. Some are quite ridiculous while others are quite beautiful. Eventually, the boys grow up throughout this and try to figure out how to become human beings.”

The talented cast includes Kenny Boardier as Eddie, Katee Drysdale as Bella, Jill Drexler as Grandma Kurnitz, Eddy Lukovic as Louie, Melanie Mino as Gert, and J.P. Wishchuk as Arty.

Scripps Ranch Theatre performances are at the Legler Benbough Theatre on the campus of Alliant International University, 9783 Avenue of Nations.

Performances run May 19, to June 11: Fridays/Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m.

Preview performance: Friday, May 19; Opening Night: Saturday, May 20; Matinee: June 10 at 2 p.m. No show on June 4.

Buy tickets at scrippsranchtheatre.org.