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Tears and Laughter Mark Riverside’s ‘Over The River’

A family moment in the Riverside Theatre’s Over The River and Through The Woods

It might drip with sentimentality, but Riverside Theatre’s Over the River and Through the Woods will nudge out a few tears and win you over, due in no small part to the handsome and well-acted production.

Written by Joe DiPietro, the play is a heart-warming comedy set in June in the Gianelli home in Hoboken, N.J. It centers on Nick, a young man living in Manhattan and dedicated to spending Sundays with his four aging grandparents. Being the apple of their collective eye, Nick drops a bombshell when he announces he’s accepted a promotion and is moving to Seattle. At first shocked, the foursome rally their resolve to keep Nick close by.

It’s a simple gambit, but in the hands of Mr. DiPietro, it becomes a tapestry into which is weaved nuance, beguiling humor and poignancy. Indeed, as he did with I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and the musical Memphis, the playwright embellishes an elementary storyline with rich character and believable action, allowing you to easily absorb them.

Love of family is the thematic motif in Over the River and Through the Woods, and it rings clear in the hands of the remarkable professional cast, all of whom have extensive list of credits. They each create fully realized characters filled with abundant love for Nick and just enough restraint to keep it all from being over the top.

By Pam Harbaugh, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, for SouthFloridaReporter.com, Feb. 7, 2016