Families looking for solid entertainment will get double their money's worth when seeing Neil Simon's Pulitzer prize-, Tony award-winning drama "Lost in Yonkers," Jan. 23–Feb. 28. It's the inaugural production in The Old Globe's new theatre-in-the-round, the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, in Balboa Park.
"Lost in Yonkers" is set in the summer of 1942 as the country, barely rising from The Great Depression, finds itself in World War II. Brothers Arty and Jay are sent to their grandmother's while dad tries to recoup some finances. Their dominating Grandma Kurnitz (Judy Kaye) runs the family-owned candy store.
The boys will also grow up under the thumb of their mentally challenged Aunt Bella who has a secret romance, and their Uncle Louie, a small-time hood.
Director Scott Schwartz ("Golda's Balcony," "The Foreigner" and co-director "Jane Eyre") saw the play on Broadway and is excited that it's the first Simon play he's helming.
"I think it's Simon's best, and I've always wanted to do it," Schwartz said. "It's a wonderful, moving story about family, parents and children — and that's something everyone can relate to."
As it turns out, 1942 is, and is not, so different from today, as Schwartz and Jack DePalma, the Globe's New Play Development Director, discovered during their research for the show.
" 'Lost in Yonkers' is set in an era where the country was much more unified in its thinking and goals," Schwartz said. "And also in the way people carried themselves ... yet the fact that the country was at war and facing economic hardships is not that different than today. Still, there was a sense of national purpose and unity that is currently lacking, so it's nice to spend a little time in that (older) world."
The creative team behind the production includes Ralph Funicello (Scenic Design), Alejo Vietti (Costume Design), Matthew McCarthy (Lighting Design), Paul Peterson (Sound Design) and Diana Moser (Stage Manager).
Schwartz also called out his "amazing" cast.
"These actors are terrific, " he said. "They're very funny and have been working so hard to be honest and tell the truth about their characters, yet find their own distinctive voices within these characters.
"Judy Kaye ("Phantom of the Opera," "Mama Mia"), a well-known and wonderful actress, is so focused. She's dedicated and really imposing in the role of grandma. Jennifer Regan is a wonderful actress who plays Aunt Bella.
"My cast also includes Steven Kaplan (Jay), Austyn Myers (Arty), Amanda Naughton (Gert) and Spencer Rowe (Eddie). Everyone of them gives a very full and rich performance."
Patrons attending the performance should also be impressed by the new theater.
"It's so intimate in the round that it's imperative upon the performers to make their characters real, very specific, and believable," Schwartz said.
'Lost In Yonkers'
- Performances: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays; and 7 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 23-Feb. 28.
- Where: The Globe's Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park.
- Tickets: $29-$62, (619) 23-GLOBE, www.TheOldGlobe.org