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Archive for Sunday, December 8, 1996

YONKERS

December 8, 1996

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Out of the mouths of babes comes comedy and wisdom.

That couldn't be truer than with Lawrence Community Theatre's production of Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play "Lost in Yonkers."

The two-act, two-hour-plus play opened Friday night and turned a bright spotlight on two Lawrence boys -- Eamon Devine, a fifth-grader at Cordley Elementary, and Paul Whittemore, a ninth-grader at West Junior High School.

These boys don't steal the show; they are the show. They play off of each other like pros -- Devine as the ornery, yet innocent, younger brother; Whittemore as the boy-coming-of-age, who wants to rebel but isn't sure how.

In the play, set in 1942 New York, Devine and Whittemore play Arty and Jay, whose mother has died of cancer. The boys are left with their stern, German-born grandmother (Constance Lunn) for eight months while their father, Eddie (Daniel Lassley), travels the South selling scrap iron to pay back a debt to loan sharks.

Each of grandma's living children is flawed. Eddie still bends under his mother's icy gaze. Bella (Louise Flory) is a 35-year-old child in a woman's body. Gert (Mindy Fippen) has a speech problem when she's around her mother. Louie (Robert Baker) is a small-time gangster.

Lunn is believable as the "wrinkled ice" grandma. When she makes her entrance in Act One, there's no doubt what kind of joyless person you've met. Although stilted at first, Baker pulls through and heats up the stage during the confrontational scenes. And Flory is convincing as the flighty Bella.

"Lost in Yonkers" examines family relationships and takes the audience through a range of emotions before its end. The script is the usual Simon fare -- witty, insightful, dramatic.

If you like the Master of Broadway, it's a sure bet you'll like "Yonkers."

The show continues at 8 p.m. today, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Dec. 14, and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the theater, 1501 N.H.

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