Center High School
Submitted for publication to KC Star Online
AUDIENCES WILL GO BONKERS FOR LOST IN YONKERS
It is not easy to have a firm-handed Grandmother, an Aunt who can barely remember her name, or a petty thief of an Uncle, but despite their flaws, you will always love them anyway. This is true for Jay and Arty in Raymore Peculiar's production of LOST IN YONKERS. This amazing cast will have you at the edge of your seat as you watch their wacky antics and see their truths unfold. This production will also melt your heart with their endearing family dynamics while you laugh so hard it hurts. By the end, you may even breathe like Aunt Gert!
Written by the comedic genius, Neil Simon, LOST IN YONKERS consists of five hilarious and kind-hearted main characters who belong to a Jewish German family. Set in New York in 1942, the play follows two main characters, Jay and Arty, while their lives are turned upside down and they must live with their Grandma Kurnitz who rules with an iron fist and their ditzy Aunt Bella. The audience watches as Jay and Arty find out the harsh truths that their family has left bottled up for so long. LOST IN YONKERS brings up important topics like child neglect, racism, and poverty; and handles them with care while throwing in some humor.
The actors captivate the audience and bring their characters to life from the moment they hit the stage, whether playing a 13 1/2 to 90 year old, maturely and believably. Ella Schnake excels in her portrayal of Bella. She handles the role with grace and hits many different emotional levels. Her energy is always high, and she never has a dull moment. Schnake is a joy to watch and she brings depth to an otherwise goofy character. Denton Meehan (Jay) has almost impeccable comedic timing. He knows all the marks and hits them every time! He is unforgettable and he'll have you laughing days after seeing the show! Aidan Martel does hit an impressive feat in his portrayal of Arty. He truly embodies his character by giving him a youthful maturity and fitting physicality. His accent is always consistent and makes audiences feel as if they are truly in New York.
Abby Ball, in her portrayal of Grandma Kurnitz, does a fantastic job of being cold and cruel, but also loving. Ball demands attention every time she is on stage and she holds an intimidating aura around her. Spencer Barr keeps audiences guessing throughout his portrayal of Louie. He's the perfect amount of damaged, shady, and caring. He shows so much emotion while staying within his character.
The make-up in the show by Zoe Shriner is astonishing. The amount of detail involved in making Grandma Kurnitz look older is so convincing it will have you second-guessing that you are sitting in the audience at a high school production! The head-to-toe transformation Shriner performs on Ball is stunning and extremely impressive. Nick Hime does an excellent job mixing in sound with Eddie's narration sections. Hime adds an atmosphere to the show that will make you feel like you time-traveled back to the 1940's. The props that are created by Molly Loman and Blake Oser are fitting to the set and never distract. The stage managers Spencer Harris, Jillian Hume, and Zach Scott will impress you with their ability to both manage the set and be a part of run crew, keeping costume changes and set transitions clean and efficient. The insanely fast, yet, completed costume changes that are done on Aunt Bella especially will leave you in awe. Although the microphones occasionally cut out and some actors dropped their accents from time to time, the actors make up for it with good diction, pronunciation, and enthusiasm. Making the few flaws barely noticeable.
Raymore Peculiar's production of LOST IN YONKERS is something you must-see! It exceeds expectations, making for an awesome night out, and is a show you will never forget! The performances from these actors are truly amazing. You'll be shocked when you remember this isn't a professional show because everything about this show is executed so well! Raymore-Peculiar's production promises to make you laugh and feel every emotion, so go see LOST IN YONKERS. You will be so glad you did!
Harrisonville High School
Submitted for publication to North Cass Herald
BONKERS FOR YONKERS
Picture this: you're broke, desperate, and nearly homeless on the streets of New York. So, what do you do to make sure your boys don't starve? You leave them to live with their cruel, German grandmother!
On the surface, what seems like a family-friendly comedy about a mishap in New York quickly shifts into something more sinister and heartbreaking. From mentally ill daughters to mobster sons, Raymore-Peculiar's LOST IN YONKERS takes you on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.
Grandsons, Arty and Jay, played by Denton Meehan and Aidan Martel, both give excellent performances onstage. Their character never drops for a moment and constantly keeps the audience waiting anxiously to see what is next to come. Bella, played by Ella Schnake, does an expert job when it comes to the dramatic tone shifts. In the matter of a few sentences, she can go from animated and lively child to a broken and melancholy young woman. Abby Ball captivates her audience with her portrayal of Grandma Kurnitz. Ball is able to convey her character as a source of comic relief when the time is right, as well as being the emotional centerpiece of this spectacular performance as the story continues.
Alec Heriford does a great job of illustrating Eddie's fear of his mother. He is one of the first characters the audience is introduced to, with the exception of Arty and Jay. His energy is always up as he runs around the house, juggling the tasks of his strict mother and troublesome boys. Although we hear about Louie earlier in the show, Spencer Barr's absolutely marvelous portrayal of Uncle Louie appears later in Act One. He is able to combine the different sides, both comical and sinister of this character seamlessly. The sudden outbursts and sneaky nature of this character makes it one to remember. Last, but certainly not least; Aunt Gert, played by Larissa Wratney, receives multitudes of laughter with her peculiar voice. The first time her breath escapes her is startling and sure to make even the coldest people crack a smile.
Throughout the show, not many technical aspects are included, nor needed. However, the aspects that the show does include are realistic and entertaining. Eddie's eerie voice as he reads his letters to his sons with the ambiance of the train in the background gives the audience goose bumps and makes one feel pity for the man. The use of lighting in this show was also very practical. Most of the lighting comes solely from lamps scattered about on stage. This effect is able to envelope the audience and send them right back to 1942 in Yonkers, New York.
This production does not have a lot things to critique, however, a few times the accents and the energy level of a few sentences would falter. However, when looking at the complete family picture, Raymore-Peculiar's production of LOST IN YONKERS was seamless and a delight to watch
This show is well worth the cost of admission, the drive, and practically anything else that would keep you from seeing it. The storyline is clear and easy to follow and each actor puts on a believable and impassioned performance. LOST IN YONKERS is truly a treat and deserves to be witnessed and adored by all.
Center High School
Submitted for publication to The Raymore Journal
LOST IN THE MAGIC
With the combination of New York accents, a typical Grandma home, and the struggles of a Jewish family during World War II, Raymore-Peculiar High School creates magic on stage in their performance of LOST IN YONKERS.
LOST IN YONKERS is a farce written by Neil Simmon that debuted on Broadway in 1990. The story follows the Kurnitz family in Yonkers, New York during World War II. When an illness kills the mother of the two Kurnitz boys and owed money begins to control the father, they're left in Yonkers to live with their strict and miserable Grandma and kooky Aunt Bella. With surprise visits from family and constant discipline from Grandma, the two boys are in for a whirlwind of a year.
Ella Schnake showcases the incredibly diverse character of Aunt Bella. Throughout the entire show, Schnake is--without fail or misstep--able to not only play but become her role. Schnake's performance of Bella is ever changing and heart wrenching. From bizarre and over energetic to damaged and aching, Schnake relinquishes every emotion to the audience in a way that is incredibly rare to come by. Denton Meehan and Aiden Martel play the roles of the young partners in crime: the Kurnitz brothers. Meehan and Martel have chemistry unmatched on the stage and become of one mind in their performances. Together, they are able to showcase the relationship of young brothers with heart and comedic genius.
Spencer Barr plays the role of Louie, the unconventional and mysterious Uncle. When Barr is on stage, he demands attention. Barr is effortlessly able to flip emotions within seconds, going from hilariously funny to aggressively furious without a hitch. Gert (Larissa Wratney) is the perfect emotional reliever with her priceless portrayal of an Aunt with an irregular speech impediment. Every actor in this show has perfect diction and volume in their difficult accents. The cast works to showcase vivid and clear emotions. Together, they are able to bring endless energy to the stage without missing a beat or having a single dull moment.
The magic of this show could not be created without the jaw dropping technical crew. Scene changes by Molly Loman and Blake Oser, as well as the actors' quick clothing changes with help from Spencer Harris, Jillian Humke, Zach Scott are incredibly efficient and impeccably well done. The sound (Nick Hime) also plays a huge role in making the show come alive; every cue is clear and on time. The hair and makeup of the actors (Zoe Shriner) beautifully showcases the difference in ages and the vibrant personalities of each character.
Raymore-Peculiar High School presents the farce of LOST IN YONKERS with talent far above normal high school theatre. With gut-wrenching emotion, comedic hilarity, and fabulous technical crews, this is a truly unrivaled show.