CLEVE REVIEW: Nostalgic ‘Lost in Yonkers’ Finds the Perfect Balance of Comedy and Drama at Western Reserve Playhouse

Robert Rush, Shani Ferry, and James Patrick in “Lost in Yonkers”

WHO: Western Reserve Playhouse

WHAT: Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon, directed by Keith Stevens

WHEN: Now through February 10

HOW: To reserve tickets, visit the company website at

WHERE: Western Reserve Playhouse, 3326 Everett Road in Bath

Western Reserve Playhouse is starting off the new year by looking back at yesteryear in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers. The sweetly sentimental family portrait is guaranteed to warm viewers hearts on a cold winter night.

When their father Eddie reveals he has to travel for work, two teenage boys Jay and Artie find themselves reluctantly living with their eccentric relatives in Yonkers in 1942. They suddenly find themselves having to deal with mentally challenged Aunt Bella, conman Uncle Louie, breathless Aunt Gert, and worst of all, strict Grandma Kurnitz.

The bittersweet comedy-drama is beautifully directed by Keith Stevens. He keeps the focus on the dysfunctional family members, masterfully escalating the tense confrontations then defusing each situation with humorous observations and interactions.

Stevens has formed a fantastic family of actors to tell Simon’s tender tale. They include Robert Rush and James Patrick as the teen boys Jay and Artie, August Scarpelli as Louie, Beth Gaiser as Gert and Jay Hill as Eddie. Especially endearing are Shani Ferry and Harriet DeVeto as the daughter and mother who are constantly at odds yet cannot survive without one another.

“Home sweet home” is the perfect phrase to describe the ambiance that WRP’s creative staff has achieved onstage. Technical director Jim Gremba designed the comfortably lived-in setting, sensitively lit by Kevin Rutan. Kelsey Tomlinson provided the evocative costumes, and Sue Snyder delivered the period props.