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‘Over the River’ teaches importance of family

On Oct. 28, “Over the River and Through the Woods” premiered at The Florida Repertory Theater.

American playwright and author Joe DiPietro did a phenomenal job with the production, honestly, what a performance. After watching this play, I called my grandmothers just to ask how they were doing.

Over the River
On The Florida Repertory Theater’s Instagram account, actors Jason Parrish, portaying Nick Cristano, and Jon Freda, playing Nick’s grandfather Nunzio, pose for a photo. (Photo courtesy of The Florida Repertory Theater via Instagram)

The play takes place several decades ago at the Gianelli home in Hoboken, New Jersey. It centers on the life of Nick Cristano, played by Jason Parrish, an Italian-American man who works in marketing.

Cristano visits his two sets of grandparents Aida, Frank, Emma and Nunzio every Sunday for dinner. It is one day over at his grandparents’ Aida, played by Viki Boyle, and Frank, played by John LaGioia, home that he has to tell them that he has been promoted to a better position in Seattle. The grandparents do not take the news well at all, knowing that their only grandchild is leaving them all alone in Florida and will not be spending every Sunday dinner with them anymore.

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The grandparents take it upon themselves to come up with all sorts of schemes in order for Cristano to stay in Florida with them. In enters Caitlin O’Hare, played by Sarah Katherine Zanotti. Who was invited by grandmother Emma, played by Andrea Gallo, to spend Sunday dinner at the Gianelli home, in the hopes of her grandson falling in love with her and finding a reason for him to stay.

Cristano however, actually ends up liking O’Hare, which leads him to ask her on a real date. Unfortunately, O’Hare does not find any interest in Cristano based on the way he treats his grandparents. Being shot down, Cristano is even more determined to leave his grandparents and move to Seattle. He then starts screaming at his grandparents for meddling in his love life. With all the screaming and yelling, Cristano has a panic attack and is taken into the Emergency Room.

He moves in to his grandparents Gianelli’s home so that they can watch over him before his move to Seattle. Cristano opens up about the promotion being the best thing that has happened to him and that all of his hard work is finally paying off. Which leads him to have a sincere and deep conversation with grandfather Nunzio, played by Jon Freda. Nunzio intended to tell his grandson that he has been recently diagnosed with cancer, but instead gives Cristano his blessing in moving to Seattle.

So Cristano spends his last days in with his grandparents before his big move. In those couple of days with the grandparents, he sees and admires over how much his grandparents love and adore each other.

With many twists and unexpected turns, this play holds everything from humor, sadness, romance and secrets. The ending was unexpected, and rather unwanted, but was also something that was inevitable.

Over the river
EN Illustration / Audrey Mobley

The Florida Repertory Theater did a fantastic job in bringing this play to life. The construction of the stage setup was a wonderful and creative process and the end result was fantastic, designed with the actor’s real grandparents’ photos hanging on the wall by the staircase.

The best thing about this experience was that, as college students, we were able to enjoy the $10 student-rate offer. If you can’t make it to this play, trust me, there are plenty more plays you can enjoy year round.

The play will run through Nov. 16.

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