By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Over the River and Through the Woods is the newest play running at the WLAC. Directed by Rachel Williams, the comedy-drama brings sincere laughs and heart to the Warehouse stage.

The story focuses on Nick (alternated though the show’s run by Jaxon Stubblefield and Ethan Herrin), a single executive living in New Jersey who spends every weekend with his Italian-American grandparents. When a new job promotion requires Nick to move out of state, the grandparents come together to find a way to keep their grandson home.

Nick regularly visits the house of grandparents Frank (Tom Herrin) and Aida (Carolyn Lampier), while grandparents Nunzio (Jarrod Lampier) and Emma (Anni Chapman) come to visit for dinner. The family, being close-knit, can’t bear to see their grandson leave, so they trying everything to get him to stay. This involves introducing Nick to Caitlin (alternated though the show’s run by Alexis Lewis and Nicole Quilling) as a dating prospect.

Things don’t always work as planned, and in the need to leave to find oneself, Nick begins to discover what he already has.

Over the River is resonant, with unpredictable, but natural story beats. Much of the humor is derived from the characters themselves, from Aida’s (Carolyn Lampier) need to constantly provide food at all times of the day, to Frank’s (Herrin) driving issues, to the boisterous natures of Nunzio (Jarrod Lampier) and Emma (Chapman – Who marks her first-ever onstage appearance in this production).

The actors who portray Nick and Caitlin will vary through the production, but for purposes of this review, Stubblefield and Lewis gave impressive and genuine performances in both solo and paired moments.

While the play brings much humor to the stage, the show’s heartfelt moments and truths provide something a little deeper and more introspective for the audience. Its message hits home on the importance and closeness of family, and what we ultimately take from those experiences.

Between the excellent cast and the easy pacing of the story, Over the River makes for an enjoyable summer production.

Over the River and Through the Woods runs until July 24. Check out the WLAC website for ticket times and more details.

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