It's easy to see why Neil Simon's play "Lost in Yonkers" won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Northlight Theatre in Skokie, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, has created a standing ovation-worthy new production of "Lost in Yonkers" wonderfully directed by Devon de Mayo concluding its one-month run this weekend.
Located at 9501 Skokie Blvd., this stage space is intimate enough for the audience to feel a close connection to the characters, all of them portrayed with heart and passion by a talented cast.
Set in the summer of 1942, World War II is gripping the nation as a father must convince his aging and very stern mother to allow his two teenage sons to live with her, so he can accept a traveling salesman job to earn money to support his family.
The widower father, Eddie, is played with just the right amount of desperation, by Timothy Edward Kane and young actors Alistair Sewell as Jay and Sebastian W. Weigman as younger brother Arty are fantastic finds playing the two sons. But the biggest raves and applause are for actresses Ann Whitney as strict German Grandma Kurnitz and Linsey Page Morton as sweet, but fragile-minded Aunt Belle. Whitney is remarkable and very believable as a mother who is trapped by memories of her past, while presenting a rock-solid exterior to the outside world. Morton is able to transform into her character with such seamless qualities teetering between giddy and volatile rage. Her every moment of hurt and elation can be felt by the audience.
Erik Hellman completes the casting as a perfectly sketchy Uncle Louie opposite Anne Fogarty as his breathing-challenged sister Gert as the final family faces confronting the boys new living arrangements with their grandmother.
The two-hour stage story is a blend of humor, nostalgia, heartfelt moments and some serious revelations. And by the end of it all, the audience leaves with a reminder of how important family understanding is, at every stage of life.
The creative team includes Grant Sabin with a great scenic design, Rachel Lartiz's period perfect costumes, Lee Keenan's lighting and Nick Keenan's sound to set the tone, along with Sarah Burnham's interesting array of props.
Northlight Theatre aspires "to promote change of perspective and encourage compassion by exploring the depth of our humanity across a bold spectrum of theatrical experiences, reflecting community to the world and the world to community." Now in its 39th season, the organization has mounted nearly 200 productions, including more than 40 world premieres. Northlight has earned 151 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations and 28 Awards.
The remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. tonight, 8 p.m. Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $25-$75 with student tickets for $15 at any performance. FYI: (847) 673-6300 or northlight.org.