A revival of Lost In Yonkers, Neil Simon's Pulitzer-winning play, runs at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ, through Feb. 2. The official opening is Jan. 10.
When their father must go on the road to repay a loan shark, young Jay and Arty Kurnitz must spend eight months with their grandma -- the antitheses of the warm and tender matriarch. Meanwhile, Grandma Kurnitz' daughter, the developmentally disabled Bella, and her no-goodnik son, Louie, add life and turmoil to the household.
Simon's play won the 1991 Tony and Pulitzer prizes. It is similar in tone to, but not part of, his famous autobiographical trilogy, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound. Other plays by Simon include the comedies The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, and The Sunshine Boys.
Starring in George Street's Yonkers are Elaine Bromka (Gert), Sam Guncler (Eddie), Anita Keal (Grandma), David Kener (Louie), Jason Marcus (Arty), Darien Scott Shulman (Jake) and Carolyn Swift (Bella). Swift played Bella on Broadway and in the Yonkers national tour.
Guncler, whose character appears in the first scene of Yonkers and doesn't return until the closing minutes, told Playbill On-Line his thoughts about having such a good but limited role: "It's interesting. I stay downstairs and feel kind of distanced, but at the same time, I'm the narrator, so I feel like I'm controlling things." Asked if he does the narration live every night, Guncler said, "No, it's on tape, but amazingly, I get better and better every night." Director Susan Kerner has staged The Mousetrap, The Diary Of Anne Frank, Driving Miss Daisy and Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs at George Street. Designing Yonkers are Ray Recht (set), Deirdre Sturges Burke (costumes), F. Mitchell Dana (lighting) and Shawn Deiger (sound).
For 22 seasons, the George Street Playhouse has been "dedicated to producing theatre which represents the community it serves" and now features Pay-What-You-Can performances, sensory seminars, large print and Braille programs and wheelchair accessibility.
For tickets ($24-$28) and information on Lost In Yonkers at the George Street Playhouse on Livingston Avenue, call (908) 246-7717.
--By David Lefkowitz