It may not have the hipness of Hedwig or the plaudits of Wit, but the gentle off-Broadway comedy Over The River and Through the Woods shares with those productions something just as important: longevity. Whereas more celebrated shows have come and gone over the past twelve months, Joe DiPietro's play celebrated its one-year anniversary Oct. 5 and has no intentions of leaving after that.
Lead actor Paul Urcioli exited Oct. 6, with Robert DeBlasio filling in. Ken Garito ("Summer of Sam") takes over Oct. 12, as the young man with two sets of meddling Italian-American grandparents. Garito's New York stage credits include Conversations With My Father and Tony n' Tina's Wedding.
Other cast members in River include Allen Swift (the voice of vintage TV character Howdy Doody) as Grandpa Nunzio, Marie Lillo, Heather Raffo, Vera Lockwood and John LaGioia.
Over The River concerns a grandson who gets advice from two sets of Italian-American grandparents. When writing the play, DiPietro drew on his relationships with his four grandparents.
DiPietro's no stranger to a long run; his musical with composer Jimmy Roberts, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, is now in its fourth year at the Westside Theatre. Upcoming projects for the playwright include penning a new book for the George Gershwin musical, Oh, Kay!. Over the River and Through the Woods, directed by Joel Bishoff, began previews Sept. 18, 1998 and opened Oct. 5 of that year. Jonathan Pollard, Bernie Kukoff, Tony Converse and the late James Hammerstein are the co-producers.
Over the River performances play every day but Thursday at the John Houseman Theatre, 450 West 42nd St. Call (212) 239-6200 for ticket information.
-- By David Lefkowitz