Between humor and drama
BEAVER CREEK – Neil Simon is the most Academy and Tony-award nominated playwright in history; some might even say he’s the best of all time. His Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lost in Yonkers” is among his most beloved and critically acclaimed works, featuring a cast of unforgettable characters in wartime 1940’s America. The Vilar Center hosts the Montana Repertory Theatre’s presentation of this timeless classic Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Set in World War II New York, the story revolves around two young brothers, Jay and Arty, who are left by their desperate father in Yonkers, New York, as he sets off on a journey to repay his debts. The boys are placed in the hands of their Grandma Kurnitz, a severe, frightfully intimidating woman who terrified her own children so much they ultimately became empty shells. Also living in the house are Uncle Louie, a small-time, tough-talking gangster on the run and Aunt Bella, an affection-starved matronly figure who wants nothing more than a family of her own. As Jay and Arty learn to live with their grandmother, as well as get to know their uncle and aunt, they ultimately come to understand themselves. Although often labeled a comedy, the play strikes a poignant balance between humor and drama. The stage is invigorated with zany characters coping with their troubles in a tangled web of family relationships. The characters, brought to life through their flaws, foibles and accomplishments, are ultimately loveable and accessible to the audience for their very human qualities. The play is also an exercise in empathy, as the audience travels along with the cast of characters as they grow and develop.
“It is rare to see a truly funny and heartfelt story come to life in person these days – with all the thrilling action and reality entertainment available on TV and at the movies, we rarely leave home,” said Kris Sable of the Vilar Center. “The ability to sit in a theater and laugh with the rest of the audience at the foibles of well defined characters is a tonic to the soul. Or maybe just a way to warm our hearts on a cold winter’s night.”
The Montana Repertory Theatre specializes in bringing new life to the classics of the American stage. Directed by Yale School of Drama graduate Kara-Lynn Vaeni, the cast of seasoned actors in this presentation of “Lost in Yonkers” is as good as it gets, said Sable.Tickets are $48 and are available by calling the Vilar Center Box Office at 845-TIXS (8497) or by visiting vilarcenter.org. The Vilar Center for the Arts is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation.