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'Lost in Yonkers' to take Fox Chapel Area High School stage

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Louie (Dan Krackhardt) questions Bella's (Maggie Mertz) fiance's motives for wanting to marrry her.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
During a scene from the Fox Chapel fall play, Lost In Yonkers, Gert (Helena Powell) reacts to a conversation with her nephews Jay (Sam Colombus) and Arty (Mikhail Ferree, right).

Finding your way amid family dysfunction is the focus of the Fox Chapel Area High School fall production.

“Lost in Yonkers,” written by Neil Simon, showcases family relationships.

“It's very funny, but there's tensions that everyone can recognize,” said junior Elizabeth Shneider, assistant director.

The coming-of-age tale reveals layers of family neuroses set in motion years ago by a grandmother.

The show runs at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 to 9 at the Fox Chapel Area High School auditorium along Field Club Road.

“Lost in Yonkers” debuted on Broadway in 1991, the same year it won the Pulitzer Prize.

The script choice was an easy one, director Kristiann Josephs said. With such distinct personalities, Josephs knew she had the acting presence to back them up.

“Some of my kids are seniors this year, and I knew they would fit these characters,” she said. “This is a great story about finding yourself, and now was a great time to do it.”

The cast of seven actors has bonded quickly. They've spent several weeks nailing the Yonkers dialect.

“They're really enjoying each other,” Josephs said. “It's nice because they're from different groups at school and they've formed a camaraderie here.”

Junior Sam Columbus landed the lead role of Jay, 15, who comes to care for his grandmother and aunt in the city of Yonkers. It's the most demanding role of his high school theater career, Columbus said.

“It's really giving me a chance to step up to the plate,” said Columbus, adding that the double-breasted suits and fedoras worn during the World War II time period help with his on-stage swagger. “The accent is a lot of fun too.”

The audience, Columbus said, should be able to sympathize with the characters.

“It's a funny show about sad people,” he said. “There are elements of comedy and drama. If nothing else, come see the actors because everyone's doing a great job.”

Senior Dan Krackhardt said he is relishing his role as gangster-turned-good-guy “Uncle Louie.”

“He's this mobster kind of guy, but he really wants to teach the kids how to make good and not to turn out like him,” Krackhardt said.

With aspirations to appear on Broadway, Krackhardt said the months of rehearsal for the fall production are worthwhile.

“No matter how terrified you are or not, you're not thinking of anything else when you get up there,” he said. “The feelings you have on stage you can never have anywhere else.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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