South students portray play of ‘Lost in Yonkers’

Photo+taken+by+Mia+Turco+%2718.+Students+hard+at+work+at+auditions+for+the+play+Lost+in+Yonkers.

Photo taken by Mia Turco '18. Students hard at work at auditions for the play Lost in Yonkers.

Jacqui Mercier, Staff Writer

“Lost in Yonkers”, a play written by Neil Simon in 1990, won the Drama Pulitzer Prize in 1991. According to drama teacher and play director Meaghan Dunham, the play is unique to South due to its extremely small cast consisting of only seven actors. It is the smallest cast for a South play in 24 years. There are only three female roles, four male roles, and two-four understudies.

Last year, a student who fell in love with the play brought the idea to perform “Lost in Yonkers” to Dunham, she said. The play has been a part of her curriculum for years and she’s always loved it.

Due to the play’s theme of acceptance, Dunham believes it is a great fit for South.

“The whole idea of what we’re trying to do here at South of making relationships, making connections,looking past what you see on the surface and getting to know people is what this play’s all about” Dunham said.

Despite the significantly smaller cast in this play compared to the previous one, actors did not find themselves discouraged. The last play had about 50 students audition, while “Lost in Yonkers” had about 30 students audition, according to Dunham,

Prior to auditions, candidates picked up a script from Dunham’s room and were expected to recite this script before her.

“I prepared for auditions by googling skits from the play so I could understand the characters and get better,” Lauren Fleckenstein ‘18 said before auditioning.

As students stood outside the auditorium doors awaiting their turn to audition before Dunham, they experienced a mix of emotions, according to Elaina CaLisi ‘20. This was CaLisi’s first time auditioning for a play at South.

“I’m a little nervous, but overall excited,” CaLisi said.

The plot of “Lost in Yonkers” follows two teenage brothers, Arty and Jay Kurnitz, and their mentally challenged  Aunt Bella.

According to Dunham, an important factor in the audition process isn’t just individual talent, but also the relationships between the actors. She claims it’s very important to analyze the connections between actors at call-backs, which took place Thursday Sept. 15.

“There has to be a connection between the brothers. Those boys have to look and act like brothers,” Dunham said.

Dunham said she was  previously concerned as to whether or not she would  be able to find high schoolers capable of portraying such intricate characters, but she was pleasantly surprised by the talent presented in auditions.

“It’s hard to find someone capable of playing a character in their early to mid thirties at seventeen. But like I told the kids Wednesday, I could probably cast the show twice.” Dunham said.

However cuts were necessary because there were only seven leads needed, Dunham said.

In upcoming weeks, the seven chosen leads and their understudies will be practicing nearly every day and everyone involved is expected to grow as actors, according to Dunham.

“I am always thrilled. I love working with kids. And I love doing theatre, so I’m excited to see what happens,” Dunham said.