ETHS players go back to the 40s
Evanston Township High School actors rehearse a scene from "Lost in Yonkers," which runs Dec. 13 to 15. The actors include (from left )freshman Ryan Foreman, sophomore Harry Thornton, junior Maggie Lott and senior Isabella Gerasole. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Tim
Tickets to Lost in Yonkers are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Contact the ETHS Box Office at 847-424-7848.
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:55AM
EVANSTON — Neil Simon’s award-winning drama, “Lost in Yonkers,” will be presented by Evanston Township High School students at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 13-15, in the Upstairs Theater.
Set in the 1940’s era, the production is part comedy and part drama, and centers around two brothers, Jay and Arty, who are forced to live with their iron-clad grandmother, emotionally challenged Aunt Bella and other dysfunctional family members in Yonkers, N.Y.
“Lost in Yonkers” is the 29th show at ETHS led by Tom Sollers, the adjunct fine arts director.
“This is a great story for high school students because it focuses on these two boys and their coming of age,” Sollers said. “I think it’s really fun to watch kids play a character of their same age on stage and then watch that character mature within the story.”
Sollers said he Lost in Yonkers would be a challenging production because of the highly complex roles to fill, but said he got lucky when he found just the right students to play each character.
“Some of these roles are really hard,” Sollers said. “Maggie Lott, the student playing the lead role of Bella, plays a 35-year-old mentally challenged person who thinks like a child but feels like a woman – this is the hardest role.”
Sollers said when Lott, a junior at ETHS, came in for the audition, he was blown away by how well she had prepared for the role.
“I don’t pick plays knowing who the cast will be, so I never know if I’m going to find the right person to fill the most difficult role,” Sollers said. “Maggie was not only right for the role, but she owned the monologue – her audition was perfect.”
Besides Bella being played by Lott, “Lost in Yonkers” features a Harry Thornton and Ryan Foreman as brothers Jay and Arty, and Isabella Gerasole as Grandma Kurnitz.
More than 45 students auditioned for various roles in the play with about 25 making the cut, including seven actors, two assistant directors and 14 crew members.
The Pulitzer and Tony Award winning production debuted in 1990 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City, and won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama among other awards.
Sollers, who has his master’s in theater at Northwestern, has worked as a director in the fine arts department at ETHS for 14 years since he left the Chicago theater scene where he worked as a director and actor for long-running comedy “Sheer Madness.”
The student performers have spent the past six weeks gearing up for opening night, spending 18-20 hours per week rehearsing after school and on weekends.
“It’s a big commitment and it’s a lot of hard work but it’s worth it,” Lott said. “Being in a small cast like this has been fun and I can feel myself improving every day.”