Over the River and Through the Woods

Rated 3.0 Sometimes a well-tuned acting team can turn a mediocre play into an enjoyable evening’s entertainment. That’s exactly what the Foothill Theatre Company’s cast does for Joe DiPietro’s Over the River and Through the Woods, a clichéd comedy about a man’s embarrassment about his loud, immigrant grandparents.In the My Big Fat Greek Wedding mode of comedy, Over the River takes an Americanized single professional and unleashes overbearing—but loving—buttinski relatives on him.

Nick (Gary Alan Wright), a young marketing executive, spends every Sunday with his two sets of Italian grandparents, being spoiled by never-ending fussing and mounds of food while enduring endless peppering by the old folks.

To be fair, playwright DiPietro does have an ear for dialogue and a feel for comedy, as demonstrated in his long-running comedy I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. In Over the River, he pulls laughs out of sitcom situations—the grandma who solves all problems with pasta, the meddling matchmaker and the long-winded storyteller.

And DiPietro brings up some thought-provoking, sentimental issues about the importance of family, the strength of roots and the obligations of generations. It’s just too bad that he slides into stereotypes too often.

So, it’s up to the Foothill acting troupe to add some spice and spunk—which it does, with talent and charisma. Wright brings a boyish charm to Nick, letting the audience know he really does love the old coots. But it’s the comedy footwork of the senior foursome (Michael Moerman, Vada Russell, David Silberman and Rene Sprattling), highlighted in the “Trivial Pursuit” scene, that’s a delight to behold.