Entertainment » Theatre

Actor Sees Seasonal Message in ’Lost in Yonkers’

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

Neil Simon's autobiographical comedy "Lost in Yonkers" continues through Dec. 16. The production is directed by Mark Peckham.

Simon's play, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1991, is a coming-of-age story based on the playwright's teenage years growing up in the Bronx during the Depression. The play opened on Broadway in February 1991 and ran for 780 performances. It was subsequently made into a film in 1993 with Richard Dreyfuss, Irene Worth and Mercedes Ruehl, repeating her Tony-award winning performance. The play also won the Tony Award for Best Play.

In the summer of 1942, widower Eddie Kurnitz (Joe Henderson) heads South looking for work, leaving his sons, Jay and Arty, in the care of their domineering grandmother, who runs a candy story in Yonkers, New York. The household also includes their childlike Aunt Bella, who has a secret romance, and Uncle Louie (Ara Boghigian), a small-time hoodlum on the run. This semi-autobiographical play mixes Simon's trademark humor with heartwarming drama in a nostalgic nod to family, hope and love.

The cast also includes Andrew Iacovelli as Jay, Matthew Pirraglia as Arty, Hillary Parker as Bella, Paula Faber as Grandma, and Tray Gearing as Aunt Gert.

"Lost in Yonkers" features a "heartening message about family," Henderson told EDGE.

"Family can be difficult at times, but in the long run, family is important," Henderson said. "I think that message is going to sit well during the holiday season."

Henderson describes Eddie as a "nice guy but given his upbringing, he's a little flawed, almost damaged."

Henderson began acting in high school and attended Providence College, where he majored in theatre. Since 2001, he has been performing at 2nd Story Theatre, where he appeared in "The Good Doctor," "The Front Page," and "August: Osage County."

Henderson's family has provided encouragement for his acting career.

"My parents were supportive and always wanted me to do work that was going to make me happy," Henderson said. "I enjoy the fact that every performance is a little bit different and every audience is different. It's always a challenge, it's exciting, and a little scary but ultimately very rewarding to see how a performance is received by one audience as opposed to another."

Working on "Lost in Yonkers" has been rewarding for Henderson, who has shared the stage with many of the cast members in other productions.

"It's always nice having a combination of people you know and worked with in the past who you feel very comfortable with on stage with a combination of new people who you haven't worked with before," Henderson said. "It makes the whole process very comfortable. They know you, they know your work. It makes it a very pleasurable experience."

"Lost in Yonkers" continues through Dec. 16, 2012. Thursdays at 7:00pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm 2nd Story Theatre, 28 Market Street, Warren, RI. For more information, call 401.247.4200 or visit the 2nd Story Theatre website.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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