Sandy actors represent color, family camaraderie in production of 'River'
A usual sign of a story well-told is it makes the audience feel something. Sandy Actors Theatre's "Over the River and Through the Woods" definitely accomplished that goal.
A story of family and related hardships, the play — as family members can be — was a little rough around the edges, but it still elicited a healthy dose of laughs and an occasional tear.
Faith, family and food — those are the pillars of the family represented in Joe DePietro's comedy. And things like being able to afford the family car was a sign one could "make a life" — "Tango Familia," as the grandparents all say.
The story follows the antics of said grandparents as they try to distill the importance of family, their own values, in their grandson Nick, played by Chris Botches, while also fighting to keep him from moving to "the far away Washington" and a new job in Seattle.
Hilarity interspersed with heartwarming insights into the family's interworkings ensue. The grandparents all the while are thinking they're keeping Nick (Botches) in New York, while an exasperated Nick exclaims "How did I come from these people?"
An outside perspective is offered by a sixth character who tells Nick he's being ungrateful because "how many adults get to have dinner with all four of their grandparents?" — a lesson Nick realizes as his grandparents all pass on in their own time.
Nunzio (Jim Bumgardner), Emma (Jonic Tabler), Aida (Carita Gilmore), Frank (Rod Fobert) and Nick (Botches) are believably dysfunctional and offer a range of personalities and characters similar to the color expected in such a generationally diverse family.
The play speaks not only to the importance of family, but the challenge of relating to people separated by an entire generation. The set, an array of old-timey wallpaper and doilies akin to what my own grandmother would have lying about, makes you feel at home, but the cast truly draws you in and makes you care as if they're your own family.
"Over the River and Through the Woods" at Sandy Actors Theatre, 17433 Meinig Ave., runs until Nov. 18, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sundays.
Tickets are available online at sandyactorstheatre.org/osconcert/featured_categories.php.