Over the River and Through the Woods is a heartwarming comedy about family, faith and food.
Reviewed and Written by Ashley Smith Paramore
St. George Musical Theater’s latest production, Over the River and Through the Woods, is a delightful play full of humor and sensitivity revolving around Nick and and his two sets of Italian-American grandparents. With his parents and sister having moved away to other parts of the country, Nick finds himself the only family member still living within geographical proximity to his grandparents. They get together each week for Sunday dinner where Nick gets to feel the love they have for him–even if they do drive him a little crazy in their delivery.
Nick is offered a wonderful promotion at work which will require him to also move across the country in a matter of weeks. The grandparents don’t take the bearing of the “bad news” very well. In their distraught, they try to devise a plan of keeping him close to them–because, after all, family is everything.
His Nan Aida invites the granddaughter of a friend over for Sunday dinner in hopes of Nick being smitten and finding a new reason to stay. After dinner, however, the dynamic of the play shifts and the audience gets to see the grandparents in a whole new light.
Nick’s grandparents may be Italian, but their behavior is typical for any ethnic group. One Nan does nothing but prepare and offer the food; while the other Nan keeps offering Nick prayer cards. One Pop is getting old in his age and refuses to come to terms with what his new limitations should be; while the other Pop has so many stories with many of them never even have happened. One of the endearing qualities about them, though, is how clueless they are when it comes to modern life. The rapid technology has created some generational gaps and is displayed in a way all can relate to with in our own relationships.
The first half of the play is full of good humor and you tend to feel sorry for Nick with how much he is unable to get through to his grandparents. But, in the second half, after getting to know the grandparents a little bit better, you begin to feel for them.
The grandparents do an excellent job with their wit and humor by being able to play off of each other as well as with Nick. They almost help to create the reality of aging and how the truth of separation from family is handled.
Dan Fowlks does an excellent job of portraying Nick. In fact, he makes you believe he really is the grandson of all four grandparents. The intimate nature of the theater seating allows you to see, in his eyes, how much he adores them all. He truly is struggling with making up his mind about his promotion. Karlene Young, however, is my personal favorite. She portrays Nan Aida perfectly as she tugs at your heart strings with precision in the second half. She is convincing of the relationship with her husband, Nunzio. The way she adoringly looks at and talks to/about him makes you believe they are truly a real life couple.
St. George Musical Theater’s presentation of Over the River and Through the Woods will make you laugh, feel and believe. The cast is spectacular together creating a true impression they have been together, as a family for decades. Over the River and Through the Woods will definitely touch your heart–I highly recommend attending, and I strongly suggest bringing a Kleenex or two.
Performances run Thursday through Saturday and Monday at 7:30 pm from March 8-April 8, with a matinee performance on Saturday, March 25 at 2 pm. Tickets are available at their website, www.sgmt.org or by calling their box office at (435) 628-8755.
Where to find St. George Musical Theater:
212 North Main Street
St. George, UT 84770
Ashley Paramore moved to St. George, from Utah County, in 2003, after graduating high school. She loves living here and being a part of the community. Since moving to Dixie, she has become a mother, a birth mother, and a step-mother. In 2013, she married her best friend and her family is her whole world. It was only recently, Ashley finally discovered what she wants to be when she “grows up.” So, she is back in school studying to be both an elementary school teacher and a book editor. She enjoys reading to unwind, cooking to de-stress and playing with her kids after a hard day of homework.