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Lost in Yonkers is a 1991 play by Neil Simon. After eleven previews, the Broadwaymarker production, produced by Emanuel Azenberg and directed by Gene Saks, opened on February 21 1991 at the Richard Rodgers Theatremarker, where it ran for 780 performances. The original cast included Irene Worth as Grandma, Mercedes Ruehl as Bella, Kevin Spacey as Louie, Lauren Klein as Gert, Danny Gerard as Arty, Jamie Marsh as Jay, and Mark Blum as Eddie.

Plot synopsis

Lost in Yonkers is a coming of age tale that focuses on brothers Arty and Jay, left in the care of their Grandma Kurnitz and Aunt Bella in Yonkers, New Yorkmarker. Their desperate father, Eddie, works as a traveling salesman to pay off debts incurred following the death of his wife. Grandma is a severe, frightfully intimidating immigrant who terrified her children as they were growing up, damaging each of them to varying degrees. Bella is a sweet but mentally slow and highly excitable woman who longs to marry an usher at the local movie house so she can escape the oppressive household and create a life and family of her own. Her brother Louie is a small-time, tough-talking hoodlum who is on the run, while her sister Gert suffers from a breathing problem with causes more psychological than physical. Missing much of the sentimentality of the plays comprising Simon's earlier Eugene Trilogy, Lost in Yonkers climaxes with a dramatic confrontation between embittered mother and lonely daughter that creates a permanent fissure in this highly dysfunctional family.

Film adaptation

Simon adapted his play for a 1993 feature film directed by Martha Coolidge. Worth and Ruehl reprised their stage roles, and Richard Dreyfuss was cast as Louie. Bella's beau Johnny, an unseen character in the play, was portrayed by David Strathairn.

Awards and nominations

  • 1991 Drama Desk Award for Best New Play
  • 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
  • 1991 Tony Award for Best Play
  • 1991 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Mercedes Ruehl)
  • 1991 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Play (Irene Worth)
  • 1991 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play (Kevin Spacey)


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