by Lorie Lewis Ham
Lost In Yonkers presented by the Kings Players opens in Hanford opens May 30. We took a moment to chat with the show’s director Jennifer Toledo.
KRL: Can you tell us about the basic storyline of this show?
Jennifer: Lost in Yonkers takes place in 1942, teenagers Jay and Arty have lost their mother to cancer. Their father takes a traveling job selling scrap metal to earn money to pay back a loan shark and he leaves the boys in the care of their Aunt Bella and Grandma Kurnitz in Yonkers. Here, the boys also meet their peculiar Aunt Gert and small-time gangster Uncle Louie. The boys settle into an apartment above Grandma’s candy store and begin a new life with this peculiar family. Soon it becomes clear that Grandma’s harsh, unforgiving nature has had a crippling effect on the emotional lives of her children.
KRL: Can you provide a little background of the show?
Jennifer: Lost in Yonkers was written by Neil Simon in 1991. It is the winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Play, and the Pulitzer Prize in drama. Lost in Yonkers is about finding one’s way through the tangled web of family relationships without losing the sense of self.
KRL: Do you know why this show was chosen for this season at Kings Players?
Jennifer: I was actually approached by a few of the board members and asked about directing a show. I have spent a lot of time in the last five years in multiple roles here at the Temple Theatre; acting, assistant directing, stage management, working on sets, lights and sound, props. Directing was the one thing I had yet to do. They all had a large amount of faith in me and I was very honored to be asked. I spent a lot of time reading scripts and once I read this one I knew I had to direct it.
KRL: Why did you want to direct this one?
Jennifer: It is a wonderful story of family, sacrifices and the scars that make us who we are. I’ve come to realize that no two people will experience this story in the same way. There are seven characters on the stage and depending on whom you relate to and why will determine how you perceive the story. It is touching, humorous and at times a bit shocking and I am honored to be able to tell this story.
KRL: Are there any specials challenges to directing it?
Jennifer: I think there are challenges that come with directing any show. Lost in Yonkers has a lot of emotional depth and I think that may have been a challenge for all of us to get to where we wanted the characters to be. My cast has been phenomenal and dedicated, I couldn’t have found a more wonderful group of people to work with. My crew, and especially my assistant director, and best friend, Kristeina Wolfert, have been amazing and worked harder than I could have even imagined.
KRL: How big is the cast?
Jennifer: The cast has a total of seven amazing actors. Two Teenage boys, two men and three women.
KRL: Who is in the cast?
Jennifer: Zachery Wolfert as Jay Kurnitz, Andrew “AJ” Wolfert as Arty Kurnitz, Cymone Sandoval as Bella Kunitz, Debbie Walker as Grandma Kurnitz, Sean Hopper as Louie Kurnitz, Devin Keith Alexander as Eddie Kurnitz, and Teresa Langdon as Gertrude Kurnitz.
KRL: What about this show most excites you?
Jennifer: I am excited to have an audience sit back and enjoy all our hard work. If we have entertained and made someone leave a little more enlightened than that will have done our job.
KRL: What are the dates, times and ticket prices?
Jennifer: The show dates are May 30, 31, June 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays 2 p.m. matinee. General admission is $12 and Students and Seniors $10.
KRL: Where can people purchase tickets?
Jennifer: You can make reservations by calling (559)584-7241. Leave a message with your name, phone number, the date of the performance and the number of people in your party.
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.