Meeting Grandma Kurnitz from “Lost in Yonkers”
Originally, Sabrina Hallock (’12) auditioned for the part of sweet Bella, the highly excitable and slightly slow daughter of Grandma Kurnitz in the theatrical production of “Lost in Yonkers.”
I would later find out that it was a huge surprise to Hallock when she found out she had been cast as Grandma. It seemed to be a huge surprise to patrons too. When I was checking out the character head shots on the wall in the Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Center during last Thursday night’s intermission, I overheard gasps. As patrons looked at their favorite characters’ photos, some were shocked to find out that Hallock was actually playing the part of frightfully cold and intimidating Grandma Kurnitz.
I heard, “Whoa, that’s Grandma?”
“She’s too cute to play Grandma.”
“Wow, her make-up is good.”
I had to admit, I thought the same things myself.
Set during World War II, two young brothers are sent to live with their daunting grandma in Yonkers, New York. The comedic drama grapples with painful family scars; scars that start with Grandma.
So nearly a week later, I walked over to the theatre department to meet with Hallock. I just wanted to see her for myself. I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be mean, but deep down there was just a tinge of fear. (Remember, I saw the play. I saw her cane too.)
I ran into Chester Shepherd (’11) first, who played the part of Jay. We small talked a bit and he went back and forth between his normal Midwest accent and his character’s New York accent. To my surprise, he told me he’d never been to New York. He just picked up quickly when working lines with Shane David Miller (’12) who played Jay’s younger brother, Arty.
Then Hallock came bouncing in with her backpack, brown hair tied back (No, not in gray braids) and a smile on her face.
I had to make sure she was the real Grandma Kurnitz though; she was just too cute and sweet. So I asked her and Shepherd to perform a short, impromptu scene. Here’s what they came up with.
Now I’m convinced it’s her, minus the wrinkles and cane. I think the stern German accent gave her away.