Family comedy a laugh-out-loud hit

"Over the River and through the Woods" is a story about family, and the cast of Lawrence Community Theatre's production of the Joe DiPietro comedy knows how to make the audience part of theirs.

The play, set in Hoboken, N.J., comically depicts the highs and lows of living with the unshakable -- but sometimes annoying -- endearments of our loved ones.

Nick Cristano is a young man faced with a new promotion and the opportunity to move across the country. His only obstacles are both sets of his Italian-American grandparents. Frank, Aida, Nunzio and Emma practically raised their grandson and are reluctant to let him move away. So in an effort to keep him close, they devise a series of what they think are thoughtful (but are really just humorous) schemes to change his mind.

The play, under the direction of Lawrence Community Theatre veteran Jeanne Chinn, is comprised of two acts and relies heavily on character monologues to keep the action moving. The tactic keeps viewers continually engaged. During Friday's performance, the entire audience laughed out loud on several occasions.

The actors do a wonderful job involving the audience with their characters. The two sets of grandparents, played by Alfred Lata, Jane Malin, Don McIntyre and Kenna Frankenfeld, are particularly enjoyable. McIntyre and Lata manage to make lovable the "stubborn old man" aspects of their characters. Dann Hurlbert, who plays their grandson, Nick, is perfect in the role. He personifies that subtle sensitivity and understanding that, whether they like it or not, all loving grandsons possess.

Because the topic of family is so universal, this play delivers something for everyone. We all can relate to dealing with the pressures and antics of loved ones, and we all know they make for really great stories.

"Over the River and Through the Woods" is one the entire family -- immediate and extended -- will enjoy.

The show continues today and runs for two more weekends at Lawrence Community Theatre, 1501 N.H.

-- Kara Warner is a Kansas University journalism student.


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