Curtain call: All in the family

By Paul Wozniak

Williamston serves up big laughs

Everything in Williamston Theatre´s latest offering, "Over the River and Through the Woods," is vivid, authentic and hilariously familiar. And the more playwright Joe DiPietro´s characters in resemble your own relatives, the more apt Review you are to laugh.

Andrew Faber plays Nick Cristano, a single, 30-year-old Brooklynite on the verge of a difficult choice: Accepting a recent job promotion would take him to the next level of his professional career but far away from his two sets of Italian immigrant grandparents. They get upset when he announces his plans and attempt to intervene, with comedic results. But the question of family versus career remains.

The grandparents are hardworking, religiously devout people raised

with traditional values and aspirations. While DiPietro´s script provides a blueprint of the loving

grandparent, it´s the beautifully understated performances of Arthur J. Beer, Mary Bremer Beer, David Daoust and Gloria Vivalda that bring these characters to life.

Whether guilt tripping Nick about food or recalling personal regrets, the performances of these four actors give the show its energy. Faber may only share a passing likeness to his fellow actors, but collectively the cast sells the illusion of their respective relationships.

Faber plays a steady straight man; the firm cheek for his grandparents to pinch. He also shares warm chemistry with Carolyn Conover as Caitlin O´Hara, a blind date set up by Nick´s grandmother. Nick and his grandparents immediately fall in love with Caitlin, whom Conover plays as a witty, multi-dimensional girl-next-door who charms the audience.

By the end, charm gives way to sadness as DiPietro strains to avoid a predictable conclusion. It´s a testament to both Caselli and his cast that the extended coda feels appropriate and relevant. Coda aside, "Over the River and Through the Woods" is a fantastic holiday offering, a riotous romp centered around and celebrating family.

“Over the River and Through the Woods”

Williamston Theatre

Through Sunday, Dec. 29 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays;

3 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays

$20 Thursdays/$25 Friday- Saturday evenings/$22 matinees ($10 students; $2 discount for seniors/military)

122 S. Putnam St., Williamston

(517) 655-SHOW,