April 14, 2024

The 2018-19 season of California Baptist University’s Wallace Theatre began Oct. 12 with a production of “Lost in Yonkers,” written by late American playwright Neil Simon.

With a small cast, the show is highly regard- ed by many playwrights. In 1991, “Lost in Yonkers” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The show takes place in 1942 in Yonkers, New York, and follows a family that includes two teenage boys who are living with their grandmother, mentally-challenged aunt and a troubled uncle while their father is out looking for work.

“Lost in Yonkers” starred Mark McMillan, senior theater major, as well as six other young talents to the CBU stage.

McMillan plays Eddie, the father of the two boys. He said his character was emotionally vulnerable and a caring man.

“Eddie’s main flaw is that he is emotionally repressed because of his mother’s failures in parenting and his fear of his mother,” McMillan said.

McMillan said he truly enjoyed working on the “Lost in Yonkers” show.

“It is one of the funniest yet most heart-breaking stories written by one of the best American playwrights of the 20th century,” McMillan said.

“The play will have you busting a gut one second and weeping the next. It was masterfully written and is wonderfully performed by an amazing cast and crew,” McMillan said.

Alexis Safoyan, senior public relations major, also stars in the fall production.

Safoyan said she feels blessed to end her collegiate acting career with this cast and production.

“We have an incredible cast and crew that fully supports one another in both personal and play-related endeavors,” Safoyan said.

Safoyan played Bella, a mentally challenged adult who lives with her strict mother.

“Discovering Bella’s character and motivations has made me more sympathetic to people who are not easily understood,” Safoyan said. “I relate to Bella’s optimism and hope despite seemingly impossible circumstances.”

Frank Mihelich, associate professor of theater, directed the production and “Lost in Yonkers” is the first comedy he has directed in several years.

“We are always looking to put together the best season. This first-time slot is not a very long rehearsal,” Mihelich said. “We’ve got seven really good actors who work very hard. This process, though short, has been easy because we’ve had the right people.”

Mihelich said this show is different than previous productions because of the distinct familial narrative.

“It deals with family-how we are molded by our family for better or for worse-about being individuals in a family. At the same time, it is a laugh-riot,” Mihelich said.

“This is Neil Simon’s best play and at the end of August he passed away, so it’s kind of a spe- cial time to do it.”

Jordan Elliott, sophomore communication and leadership studies double major, said he saw the show on its opening night and enjoyed it.

“By far, my favorite part was the ending scene between grandma and Bella,” Elliot said. “The way they opened up to each other in a meaningful way to the audience while maintaining their respective accents was phenomenal.”

McMillan said he looks forward to future productions and is excited for people to go see future shows.

“I encourage everyone to come out to see more of our shows,” McMillan said. “I want everyone to know that the Wallace Theatre is always a safe place to come and feel emotions and share experiences that may be too powerful or taboo for everyday life. The theater is a magical place where viewers can laugh, cry and feel together.”

Wallace Theatre’s next production this semester, the musical, “She Loves Me,” will open Nov. 16.

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