The New Jewish Theatre production of David Hein and Irene Sankoff's unapologetically autobiographical musical "My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding" is a pleasant and pleasing little show. It's so light that a stiff breeze would blow it away, but its heart is in the right place, which counts for a great deal.
The New Jewish Theatre considers practical, moral and ethical questions surrounding wealth, greed, religion and motivation in its current production, Deb Margolin's "Imagining Madoff." The story weaves transcripts, testimony, interviews and writings to explore not simply now Madoff succeeded in stealing so much money from so many unwitting people, but what compelled him to do so and why was it so easy?
The New Jewish Theatre keeps their audiences laughing with a lively mix of humor and sex therapy in "Becoming Dr. Ruth," a delightfully informative production. Filled with personal anecdotes from the doctor's public life and deeply personal memories and observations, the show celebrates the resilient spirit and friendly, funny and frank approach to sex of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Mark St. Germain's one-woman show is an entertaining and insightful look at Westheimer's personal and professional journey.
Have you heard the one about Lieberman and the sheep? Or the one about Levinson and his nail business? Maybe the one about Kaminsky, the kleptomaniac?
The New Jewish Theatre's presentation of "The Price" is an artfully staged, well-acted production that fully embraces the essential themes of playwright Arthur Miller. There's layered intention in every line and the cast, with strong, purposeful direction from Bruce Longworth, does an admirable job of navigating the playwright's subtleties and inferences while avoiding excess.
For the second time in less than a year, St. Louis audiences have the opportunity to see Matthew Lopez's "The Whipping Man," a fine script that has now received two excellent productions. The Black Repertory Theatre put it on in 2013 to great acclaim, making many "Best Of the Year" lists and receiving several Critics' Circle Nominations. New Jewish Theatre's version that opened last night (Jan. 30) matches that level of excellence, and due primarily to directorial choices, occasionally surpasses it.
‘There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for Mankind.’ –Hannah Senesh
It occurred to me watching “The Good Doctor” this time that its eight vignettes both riff on sketch comedy shows like Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows" where playwright Neil Simon got his start, and are extended jokes. They all have a setup, middle and a punch line or “punch situation” of one kind or another.
What if you were foolish, and yet thought you were smart? Now extend that to everyone you know, all laboring under same delusion. Add music, color, costume, and a talented cast, and you have the world of "Shlemiel the First."
I think I'm not giving anything away when I suggest that when in a play set in Spain in the 15th century the Inquisition examines a priest who has married a Jewish woman and who is himself a Jew, that examination is not likely to end happily for the priest.