- About the Play
- Behind the Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Audience Guide
For additional information, read the program online here.
To view our Behind the Scenes photo gallery, click here.
To view photos from our opening night after-party, click here.
Also, consider attending the free engagement events around this production (download schedule).
Simon on Lost in Yonkers
(Paris Review, Winter 1992)
On his humor:
"I only know some aspects of my humor, one of which involves being completely literal. To give you an example, in Lost in Yonkers, Uncle Louie is trying to explain the heartless grandmother to Arty. 'When she was twelve years old, her old man takes her to a political rally in Berlin. A horse goes down and crushes Ma's foot. Nobody ever fixed it. It hurts every day of her life, but I never once seen her take even an aspirin.' Later, Arty says to his older brother, 'I'm afraid of her, Jay. A horse fell on her when she was a kid, and she hasn't taken an aspirin yet.' It's an almost exact repetition of what Louie told him and this time it gets a huge laugh. That mystifies me."
"In the most painful scene in Lost in Yonkers, Bella, who is semiretarded, is trying to tell the family that the boy she wants to marry is also retarded. It's a poignant situation and yet the information that slowly comes out - and the way the family is third-degreeing her - becomes hilarious because it's mixed with someone else's pain. I find that what is most poignant is often most funny."
"When you write a play, maybe even a novel, you become everybody. It may seem like I only write the lines spoken by [a] character who is like Neil Simon, but in Lost in Yonkers I'm also the grandmother - and Bella. And to do that you have to become that person. That's the adventure, the joy, the release that allows you to escape from your own boundaries. To be Grandma every other line for a couple of pages takes you into another being. It's interesting how many people ask, Was this your grandmother? I say, No, I didn't have a grandmother like that, and they say, Then how do you know her? I know what she sounds like. I know what she feels like. The boys describe it when they say, When you kiss her it's like kissing a cold prune. I describe her in a stage direction as being a very tall, buxom woman. But she doesn't necessarily have to be tall and buxom. She just has to appear that way to the boys. You can't really use that as physical description, but it will convey something to the actress."
"Lost in Yonkers is an enormous success, but I thought I was writing the bleakest of plays. What I liked about it was that I thought it was Dickensian - two young boys left in the hands of dreadful people. What I was afraid of was that I would hear words like melodrama."
On how Yonkers compares to his other work:
"With Lost in Yonkers I suddenly heard from critics who said, This is a new voice for Neil Simon. We want you to go deeper and deeper into this area. At the same time other critics complained, I don't like this as much. It's not as funny as the old plays. They wanted Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. I could have spent my whole life writing the Barefoot in the Parks and Odd Couples, which I certainly don't denigrate, because I love them - but where would I have gone with my life? I would have been standing still, grinding out the same story time after time after time. What I've done, I think, is take the best of me and the best of my observations and try to deepen them to reform them and reflesh them. At some point along the way you discover what it is you do best. Recently I've been reading Samuel Beckett's biography. When he was about forty-four years old, he said he wanted to write monologue. It was his way of expressing himself to the world. He was shy too. In a sense, I think many of my plays are dramatized monologues. It's like sitting around the fire and telling you the story of my life and my father and my mother and my cousins and my aunts. In Lost in Yonkers I know I'm one of those two boys, probably the younger one. Who that grandmother is, who Aunt Bella is, with her adolescent mind, I don't know."
On suggestions that Yonkers is the story of his own life:
"I'd say Lost in Yonkers isn't autobiographical at all. You asked me earlier whether I write thematic plays. I don't, but I have a feeling that in Lost in Yonkers there was a theme within me that was crying to get out, a common denominator that got to everybody. In the last fifteen, twenty years, a phrase has come into prominence that didn't exist in my childhood: "dysfunctional family." My mother's and father's constant breakups seemed to show little concern for my brother and me. It was like coming from five broken families. That pain lingers. Writing plays is a way of working out your life. That's why I can never conceive of stopping, because I would stop the investigation of who I am and what I am."
"I think it's construction. Maybe what I write is outmoded today, the "well-made play"-a play that tells you what the problem is, then shows you how it affects everybody, then resolves it. Resolution doesn't mean a happy ending - which I've been accused of. I don't think I write happy endings. Sometimes I have hopeful endings, sometimes optimistic ones. I try never to end the play with two people in each other's arms-unless it's a musical. When I was writing three-act plays, a producer told me the curtain should always come down on the beginning of the fourth act. A play should never really come to an end. The audience should leave saying, What's going to happen to them now? As the plays progressed, some people wanted darker endings. Some critics even said the ending of Lost in Yonkers wasn't dark enough. But I can't write a play as dark and bleak and wonderful as A Streetcar Named Desire. I fall in some gray area. There is so much comedy within the dramas or so much drama within the comedies."
On the title:
"Lost in Yonkers - I love the word Yonkers and I wanted to put the play in a specific place. I said to myself, What in Yonkers? These boys are lost, Bella is lost, this family is all lost ... in Yonkers."
1942 at a Glance
World Series Champions: St. Louis Cardinals
NFL Champions: Washington Redskins
US Open, Wimbledon, Kentucky Derby: Not played due to WWII
Fashion Icons: Gene Tierney, Rita Hayworth & Lana Turner
Time Magazine's Man of the Year: Joseph Stalin
Most Popular Toys: Little Golden Books
Twenty-six countries formed the United Nations
Most Popular Films included Casablanca, Road to Morocco, Bambi, Mrs. Miniver, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Holiday Inn
1942 Academy Awards:
Best Picture - Mrs. Miniver
Best Director - William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver
Best Actor - James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Best Actress - Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver
Best Original Screenplay - The Woman of the Year
Best Animated Short Film - Der Fuehrer's Face (Walt Disney)
Best Original Song - "White Christmas", Holiday Inn
Honorary Awards: Charles Boyer, Noel Coward, MGM:
Inflation - The Value of a Dollar
In 1942, $1.00 is worth $14.29 in 2014.
When Jay is charged $0.06 for the three pretzels he took, it's equivalent to $0.86 in 2014.
The $9,000 that Eddie owes to the loan shark is worth $128,571.43 in 2014.
The $5,000 that Bella wants to start her restaurant is worth $71,428.57 in 2014.
The $100 that Louie leaves on Grandma's dresser is worth $1,428.57.
Germans in America during WWII
Between 1931 and 1940, 114,000 Germans and thousands of Austrians moved to the United States, many of whom - including, e.g., Nobel prize winner Albert Einstein, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bertold Brecht, Arnold Schönberg, Hanns Eisler and Thomas Mann - were Jewish Germans or anti-Nazis fleeing Nazi oppression. About 25,000 people became paying members of the pro-Nazi German American Bund during the years before the war. German aliens were the subject of suspicion and discrimination during the war, although prejudice and sheer numbers meant they suffered as a group generally less than Japanese Americans. The Alien Registration Act of 1940 required 300,000 German-born resident aliens who had German citizenship to register with the Federal government and restricted their travel and property ownership rights. Under the still active Alien Enemy Act of 1798, the United States government interned nearly 11,000 German citizens between 1940 and 1948. Civil rights violations occurred. An unknown number of "voluntary internees" joined their spouses and parents in the camps and were not permitted to leave.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought out Americans of German ancestry for top war jobs, including General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and General Carl Andrew Spaatz. He appointed Republican Wendell Willkie as a personal representative. German Americans who had fluent German language skills were an important asset to wartime intelligence, and they served as translators and as spies for the United States. The war evoked strong pro-American patriotic sentiments among German Americans, few of whom by then had contacts with distant relatives in the old country.
The October 1939 seizure by the German pocket battleship Deutschland of the US freighter SS City of Flint, as it had 4000 tons of oil for Britain on board, provoked much anti-German sentiment in the US. Following its entry into the Second World War, the US Government interned at least 11,000 American citizens of German ancestry. The last to be released, a German-American, remained imprisoned until 1948 at Ellis Island, three and a half years after the cessation of hostilities against Germany.
In 1944, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., United States Secretary of the Treasury, put forward the strongest proposal for punishing Germany to the Second Quebec Conference. It became known as the Morgenthau Plan, and was intended to prevent Germany from having the industrial base to start another world war. However this plan was shelved quickly, the Western Allies did not seek reparations for war damage, and the United States implemented the Marshall Plan that was intended to and did help West Germany's post war recovery to its former position as a pre-eminent industrial nation.
Early 20th Century Life in Yonkers
Growing Up In Yonkers: Stanley Avenue in the 1940s
EDITOR'S NOTE: Stanley Avenue in southwest Yonkers runs for about 1/4 mile north from Ludlow street, one block east of Riverdale Avenue. Jack Treacy, who still lives in Yonkers, wrote his reminiscences for Yonkers History.
Housing on Stanley Avenue was in 4-story wood-frame buildings. The apartments were "railroad rooms," two on each floor, with a wooden open stairwell from basement to top floor, and a skylight and roof hatch door above. You entered into the living room, where there would be a radio and victrola. To the rear was a bathroom with a tub, then the kitchen and a wooden back porch. To the front were the bedrooms, with no doors and you passed through one to the other. The front porch was wood, 3 or 4 steps, and commonly called the "stoop," and a gathering place for young and old alike. Coal stoves in the kitchen were used for both cooking and heating and a potbelly stove would be in the front room. Garbage went down a wooden dumbwaiter or the wooden stairs in the rear to a garbage shed. Kitchens had iceboxes, scrubbing boards, and a deep sink used for washing dishes, children, and laundry. There was no hot water, so water was boiled.
The owners usually lived in the building, generally in one of the first floor apartments. Rent in the 1940s was about $15 per month. The games kids played included hopscotch, kick the can, hide and seek, cowboys and Indians, soldiers, marbles, flipping baseball cards, pitching pennies, stickball, punch-ball, boxball, touch football, and Johnny rides the pony.
Shopping was done at Kutchas for 1/4 pound of baloney, tub butter, pickles in a barrel. Williams Stationery had a soda fountain. There was Francis Edwards ice cream store, Klein the barber, Cohen's secondhand clothes, and the Safeway and A&P "supermarkets" on Riverdale Avenue (probably no more than 1200 square feet). The firehouse on Riverdale Avenue gave us Christmas toys.
Movies were at the Lido, Strand, Proctors, Loews, the Broadway, and the Park Hill. The Lido would have two features, a chapter of a serial (Superman, Batman, etc.), cartoons, and free comic books, and one night weekly for free dishes or glasses, all for 11 cents.
Once a week we went to the Bath House on Jefferson Street for a hot shower, for which they provided a towel and small bar of soap. We went swimming in the Hudson at Sandy Beach, south of Ludlow Street. There were no lifeguards and it was next to the sewage plant. You could also go to the pool at Tibbetts Park on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, when it was free. We started working after school at 11 or 12, delivering newspapers or for one of the neighborhood's small stores, setting bowling pins, or caddying.
World War II was air raid drills, blacked out windows, scrap drives, rationing, and Gabriel Heater on the radio with war news. Windows displayed a flag if a family member was in the service. Many apartments were vacant during the war; when it ended they quickly filled up. After the war the Blair Shipyard closed and Otis, the Carpet Shop, and most manufacturing went back to civilian production. Khaki and Eisenhower jackets became the fashion. The girls had babushkas, bobbysocks, and ponytails.
We were poor, but we didn't know it because we were having too much fun.
How did the Stanley Avenue kids end up? None became criminals. Some became police officers, fire fighters, telephone and Con Ed workers, engineers, and some stayed in the military. None became country and western stars or Joe DiMaggio, but one became an artist. Most of us went on to raise families with grandchildren who now want to know how us old folks lived on Stanley Avenue a half century ago.
Anne Fogarty (Gert) is making her Northlight debut. She recently appeared in Lookingglass's revival of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses (Jeff Nomination - Best Ensemble) as Aphrodite, a role she also played in the original production. Chicago credits include Smokefall (Goodman); The Real Thing, Holiday, and Man and Superman (Remy Bumppo); Summertime and The Idiot (Lookingglass); The Glamour House (Victory Gardens); and Oleanna (Chicago Dramatists). Regional credits include Metamorphoses at Hartford Stage, Missouri Repertory, Cincinnati Playhouse, and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Mary Zimmerman's The Secret in the Wings at Berkeley Rep, McCarter Theatre, and Seattle Rep; Side Man, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Hauptmann at Madison Repertory; and The Turn of the Screw at Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis.
Erik Hellman (Louie) is happy to make his Northlight debut. Recent productions include Luna Gale at Goodman and Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, and Proof (Jeff Award Nomination - Supporting Actor) at Court. Other Chicago credits include The Comedy of Errors, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Jeff Award Nomination - Lead Actor), Titus Andronicus, and Arcadia (Court); Eastland (Lookingglass); Hesperia (Writers); The Madness of King George III, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, and Edward II (Chicago Shakespeare); Honest, The Elephant Man, and Huck Finn (Steppenwolf); All My Sons (TimeLine); as well as shows at Next, Chicago Dramatists, Remy Bumppo, The House Theatre of Chicago, and as a company member of Strawdog. Outside of Chicago, Erik has appeared at Milwaukee Repertory, Geva, Syracuse Stage, Indianapolis Repertory, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Houston's Stages Repertory, and Off-Broadway at Mirror Repertory. Film/TV work includes The Dark Knight, The Chicago Code, Boss, Betrayal, and as Dr. Alec Willhite on Chicago Fire and Chicago PD.
Timothy Edward Kane (Eddie) is pleased to return to Northlight, having previously appeared in The Miser and She Stoops to Conquer. Chicago credits include: An Iliad (2013 & 2011), The Illusion, Wild Duck, Titus Andronicus, Uncle Vanya, The Romance Cycle, and Hamlet (Court); Blood and Gifts (TimeLine); Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Arms and the Man (Writers); The North Plan (Steppenwolf Garage); and more than a dozen productions at Chicago Shakespeare including The Comedy Of Errors, A Flea In Her Ear, and Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 (CST and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-Upon-Avon). Regional credits: The Mark Taper Forum, Notre Dame Shakespeare, Peninsula Players, and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. TV: Chicago Fire. Education: BS, Ball State University; MFA, Northern Illinois University. He is the recipient of a Joseph Jefferson award and an After Dark award. Mr. Kane is married to actress Kate Fry.
Linsey Page Morton (Bella) is happy to make her Northlight debut. Chicago credits include: The Iceman Cometh and Joan Dark presented at the Linz '09 Festival in Austria (Goodman); The Dresser (Steppenwolf); A Streetcar Named Desire, Another Part of the Forest, Bus Stop (Jeff Award nomination), and Spite for Spite (Writers); and Hannah and Martin and The Crucible (TimeLine). Regionally, Linsey appeared as Lotty Wilson in Enchanted April at Milwaukee Rep. Last fall, she assistant directed TimeLine's production of The Normal Heart directed by Nick Bowling. Film credits: Joshua, The Quiet, and Freudian Slip. She is a company member and casting director at Pine Box Theater Company. Linsey is a proud member of Actor's Equity and SAG/AFTRA.
Alistair Sewell (Jay) is delighted to make his first appearance with Northlight. He resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where he appeared in Forward Theater's The Farnsworth Invention (Young Philo, Young Sarnoff), Children's Theater of Madison's And Then They Came for Me (Ed), and Benjamin Brittan's Turn Of The Screw (Miles) with Madison Opera. Alistair has appeared as soloist with the City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, Portland Colombia Symphony, and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Film credits include For the Glory, Into the Wake, The Mourning Hour, The Half of Me That's Him, and Blame. Alistair gives special thanks to his family for putting up with him, and to his theater family in Madison.
Sebastian W. Weigman (Arty) is a junior in Wisconsin's online school, eAchieve Academy. He has appeared as Skunk in Mole Hill Stories (First Steps Children's Theatre); Jack Beggles in The Hundred Dresses, Mike Teavee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Milwaukee's Todd Wehr Theatre); and as Herman in H.H. Holmes: House of Horror, Danny in Outliers (Alchemist Theatre). He's been most recently seen as an Elf in the First Stage/ Emerald City production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Broadway Playhouse. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. Sebastian would like to thank his family and friends for all their love and support throughout the years, especially his Mom.
Ann Whitney (Grandma) feels joy returning to the Northlight stage. Ms. Whitney's last appearance here was as Big Edie in Grey Gardens. Before that, she appeared in Quilters, Driving Miss Daisy (Sarah Siddons Leading Lady Award), and The Cripple of Innishman. More recently, she played in Everything is Illuminated at Next and Freshly Fallen Snow (Jeff nominated) at Chicago Dramatists, where she is an artistic associate. Her career has taken her to Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she played the professor in Wit, Illinois Wesleyan University as a guest artist in The Chalk Garden, Northwestern University in Tartuffe, Sacramento Theatre Company in Fossils, and many summers at Wagon Wheel Theatre in Indiana in plays and musicals. Her work in Chicago theatres includes shows at Court, Writers, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Goodman, Marriott Lincolnshire, Steppenwolf, and Victory Gardens.
Devon de Mayo (Director) is thrilled to be directing at Northlight after serving as the theatre's Director of Education for more than three years. Directing credits: Compulsion and Everything is Illuminated (Next); An Actor Prepares (Logan Center); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Clouds (Dog & Pony); Infiltrating Bounce (Luminaria, San Antonio); and 52 (Canal Café, London). Directing & Devising credits: Guerra: A Clown Play (performances in Chicago, New York, Albuquerque, Madrid, Bogota, and Mexico City); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls (Dog & Pony), and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony, Steppenwolf Garage Rep). She is the co-artistic director of Dog & Pony Theatre Co and received her MFA in Directing from Middlesex University in London.
Grant Sabin (Scenic Design) is a native of rural Illinois who blends his rural roots with urban art. He's a graduate of Columbia College with a BFA in theatre design where he was awarded the 2005 Michael Merritt scholarship for collaboration in theatre design. He is known throughout Chicago for his keen eye in capturing atmospheric detail and his ability to design "impressively executed sets" on a storefront-theater budget. His designs have been seen at Victory Gardens , Steppenwolf , Next, Royal George, Overture Center (WI), Theatre Wit, Gallagher Bluedorn (IA), American Blues, ATC, and A Red Orchid. He was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for his design of A Red Orchid's production of The Sea Horse and Dog & Pony's production of Mr. Marmalade. He was recently named one of the Top 50 Players in Chicago Theatre by New City Magazine.
Rachel Laritz (Costume Design) is happy to be joining Northlight for the fifteenth time including this season's Chapatti and 4000 Miles. Chicago design credits include various shows at Writers, Court, Remy Bumppo, and TimeLine. Regional credits include Utah Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, Kansas City Rep, Illinois Shakes, Next Act, Chamber, Renaissance Theaterworks, Skylight Music Theatre, Children's Theater Madison, and the University of Michigan. Off-Broadway credits include Pearl Theatre. Other professional credits: NBC's Law & Order, American Players Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Garsington Opera, and the Spoleto Festival USA. Rachel is a recipient of a 2011 Emerging Artist Alumni Award from the University of Michigan and a 2009 Joseph Jefferson Award for The Voysey Inheritance (Remy Bumppo). Rachellaritz.com
Lee Keenan (Lighting Design) has designed lights for The House Theatre of Chicago (company member), Lookingglass, Court, Next, 500 Clown, Silk Road Rising (Artistic Associate), Milwaukee Rep, Centerstage Baltimore, Kansas City Rep, Circle, Griffin, Bailiwick, Infamous Commonwealth, Buzz22, Theatre Seven of Chicago, Bailiwick Chicago, Steppenwolf SYA, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Short Shakes!, About Face Youth Theatre, The Building Stage, Apple Tree, and Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Lee's scenic designs have been seen at Silk Road Rising, Collaboraction, Adventure Stage, Infamous Commonwealth, and The Hypocrites. Lee is a Senior Lecturer at Loyola University Chicago and holds an MFA in Theatre Design from Northwestern University.
Nick Keenan (Sound Design) is thrilled to be working with Northlight for the second time after his debut here with Detroit '67 earlier this season. Nick has designed over 125 shows in the Chicago area, including shows at Court (Sizwe Banzi is Dead, The Illusion, The Piano Lesson), Next (Everything is Illuminated, End Days), Millennium Park (Guerra: A Clown Play), Neo-Futurists (The Sovereign Statement), Rivendell (These Shining Lives), A Red Orchid (The Iliad, Not a Game for Boys), and New Leaf (Arcadia, The Man Who Was Thursday, Touch, The Dining Room). He recently served as associate sound designer for Smokefall at Goodman. Nick teaches sound design at DePaul University and serves as a digital and web experience designer for a number of Chicago theatres, including the Neo-Futurists and the Paramount in Aurora.
Rita Vreeland (Production Stage Manager) wraps up her 7th season at Northlight with Lost in Yonkers. Most recent Northlight credits: Tom Jones, 4000 Miles, Stella & Lou (including its run at the Galway Arts Festival), and Woody Sez. Recent credits elsewhere in the Chicagoland area include Little Shop of Horrors and many other productions at Theatre at the Center; the annual Christmas Schooner (Mercury); and the world premieres of A Twist of Water (Route 66), El Nogalar (Goodman), and We Are Proud to Present... (Victory Gardens). In addition to stage management, Rita was the set designer at Harold Washington College from 2001-2012, and is a member of the Route 66 Theatre Company in Chicago. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to one-year-old Charlie.
Neil Simon (Playwright) is an American playwright and screenwriter widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific, and performed playwrights in the world. Mr. Simon is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Pulitzer Prize (Lost In Yonkers), Tony Awards (The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues, Lost In Yonkers, and a special Tony Award For Overall Contribution to the Theatre), Emmy Awards (The Sid Caesar Show and The Phil Silvers Show), and Writers Guild Screen Awards (The Odd Couple and The Out-Of-Towners). Nominations: Tonys (Little Me, Barefoot in the Park, Plaza Suite, Promises, Promises, The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, Lost in Yonkers, and the musical The Goodbye Girl), a Writers Guild Laurel Award, an American Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement, a Writers Guild Screen Award (Barefoot in the Park), an Oscar (The Odd Couple), an Evening Standard, a Sam S. Shubert Foundation Award, Kennedy Center Honors, a UCLA Medal, a Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, and a William Inge Theater Festival award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater. Simon is the author of plays and musicals, including Come Blow Your Horn, Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, Plaza Suite, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys, Rumors, Jake's Women, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, London Suite, Proposals, and The Dinner Party, among others. Select screenwriting credits: The Cheap Detective, Seems Like Old Times, Murder by Death, and The Star-Spangled Girl, and others, including film adaptations of many of his plays. Select television credits: The Tallulah Bankhead Show and ABC's Broadway Bound.
Production photos by Michael Brosilow
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Scenes from Lost in Yonkers
Yonkers is deeply moving - and Neil Simon's finest
May 12, 2014
By CHRIS JONES
The master farceurs of the English-language theater of the 20th century are aging. The beloved British scribe Alan Ayckbourn was 75 last month. Neil Simon is 86. These two men - cumulatively responsible for scores of plays and an incalculable number of uneasy laughs - do not have an obvious heir. Not one who can write plays like Lost in Yonkers, now on stage in a deeply moving production from the Northlight Theatre and one of the happy surprises of the spring season.
Lost in Yonkers justly won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, changed the way critics looked at Neil Simon, and probably reveals more about the playwright than any of the official biographies. I've long thought Lost in Yonkers, which is masterfully crafted, was far and away Simon's best play. I hadn't seen it in years before heading to Skokie on Friday night, where the young director Devon de Mayo is making an auspicious Northlight debut with a beautifully cast and toned production, carefully focused on characters in pain but nonetheless funny throughout.
Northlight mounts blistering revival of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers
May 11, 2014
By HEDY WEISS
Speak the name Neil Simon to fervent champions of "cutting edge theater" and more often than not they will roll their eyes in the most dismissive way. They are the losers.
In fact, I would dare each and every one of them to make their way to Northlight Theatre, where director Devon de Mayo and her cast have created a gorgeous revival of Lost in Yonkers, Simon's 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning play. I bet few who make the effort will emerge from that theater unchanged by the experience in some profound way.
Yes, Simon has written a traditionally structured play about a family in distress. But it is a great beauty of a work that, on the edge of a dime, masterfully turns from the tragic to the comic in human nature while capturing all the absurdity that lies in between. Simon also brilliantly limns characters from three generations whose lives leave an indelible imprint on each other, and on us.
Northlight's heartfelt Yonkers is wonderfully satisfying
May 14, 2014
By BARBARA VITELLO
In Lost in Yonkers, Neil Simon achieves that near-perfect balance of humor and pathos. The laughs are hearty and the emotion is genuine in this 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning dramedy about two brothers sent by their widowed father to live with their steely, inaccessible grandmother.
Many consider it Simon's best work. Northlight Theatre's lovely, heartfelt revival makes it clear why.
Deftly staged by former Northlight education director Devon de Mayo (whose directing suggests a real understanding of Simon's sensibility), the wonderfully satisfying revival boasts an impressive cast that is nothing short of superb. Shifting effortlessly (and credibly) between the comedic and the tragic, their performances are moving and fully realized.
Review: Lost in Yonkers/Northlight Theatre
May 12, 2014
By AARON HUNT
Director Devon de Mayo's leads her cast through the minefields of this Pulitzer-winning piece. Simon's wildly successful turn from comedic, commercial vehicles to self-exploration gave us a work that vomits out great personal pain, with only brief moments of the old chuckling Simon to save us before we fall too far, and this makes for exciting and hair-raising challenges for the players. Underneath the linear, episodic plot structure whirlpools of heart-disconnects swirl. The broad, sweeping character arcs that the writing demands can only be fashioned internally by artists who commit to the material. And in Northlight's production we have that in spades.
The battle that determines the outcome of the war is fought between Ann Whitney's Grandma and Linsey Page Morton's Aunt Bella. The craft that equips them to plumb such dark and horrific places, and the artistic alchemy that allows us to go along for their ride, landing unscathed yet wiser, is not to be missed.
Lost in Yonkers could easily be set in today's times
May 4, 2014
By CATEY SULLIVAN
Think of Neil Simon and odds are you'll think of plays defined by one-liners, rapid-fire quips and light-hearted humor. But with Lost in Yonkers, the prolific writer (and one of only two living playwrights to have a Broadway theater named after him) goes far deeper than he did with such lighthearted hits as Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple.
Lost in Yonkers, winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, doesn't skimp on the wisecracks. But amid the banter and gags, Simon's comedy offers deeply felt exploration of a family in trouble. And although it's set in the summer of 1942, Lost in Yonkers still comes across as stinging and contemporary.
"The thing that jumped out at me right away about this play is how contemporary it feels," says director Devon de Mayo, who helms the production of Lost in Yonkers opening in previews May 2 at Skokie's Northlight Theatre. "The plot starts with this father who has gone into huge debt because of his wife's medical bills. How current is that?"
Five great ways to celebrate Mother's Day
May 6, 2014
By MYRNA PETLICKI
A funny family: Moms will love their families even more after spending time with the hilariously dysfunctional relatives in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers at Northlight Theatre. Read more>
From Hair to Lost in Yonkers in a whirlwind few weeks
May 15, 2014
By CHRIS JONES
And the phones rang like crazy at Northlight Theatre, which unspooled a formidable Lost in Yonkers, reminding us that Neil Simon's best work still is a bridge to proven excellence. Read more>
"It's another hit for Northlight. Pulitzer Prize-Winning Lost In Yonkers is Must-See Theater."
Make It Better - Anna Carlson
"Among the finest plays I've seen this year! Don't miss it."
ChicagoCritic.com - Tom Williams
"By far the best I have ever seen of this play ... even better than the film version."
Around the Town Chicago - Al Bresloff
"Linsey Page Morton can start clearing space on her mantle for the awards her performance as Bella should rightfully earn her."
Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Dan Zeff