Two fine productions to tell you about this week. It never ceases to amaze me…
The things we learn and lifestyles we peer into… just by attending live theatrical productions!
South of Delancey – A World Premiere
A steamy, volatile, and historically involving production! Based on true events, on New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1940s, this is a voyeuristic “slice of life” experience. It is the true telling of a Jewish Arbitration Court, and three families who seek its counsel. Under the assistance of Rabbi Rubin, and countless judges and senators, the financially strapped local Jews revealed their legal grievances over public air waves, to settle their disputes. Many used this “free” service, as the public heard their innermost private stories, often broadcast in Yiddish. An overhead video screen prints out the Rabbi’s often humorous dialogue for us (Don Appleby – Videographer). Created with sizzling style by Karen Sommers, from actual tapes found in a dumpster in 1997, she also directs the play with compassionate, explosive and sultry skill. Dove Huntley’s gorgeously detailed set, alternately depicting all three of the family’s homes… and the period costumes of Lois Tedrow, set the 1940s mood with appealing style. Under the always “spot on” casting of Fran Bascom, seven excellent actors play out these “true to life” roles, with captivating perfection! To briefly summarize the characters for you: Kal Bennett plays the sassy/sexy Lenore, ready to live her life to the fullest… but is hindered by her frumpy and despondent sister Helen, who just won’t move out of the house (a brilliant Jordana Oberman). Abigail Marks plays Faye, still living at home with her loving but traditionally Jewish mother Sadie (Casey Kramer) and now, her new war ridden husband, Marty (Michael Rubenstone). A trio of strong performances! In the “steamiest” coupling: Jodi Fleisher plays Lily, a sexy and smart woman, married to Herman… a lazy and sexually charged loser (Barry Alan Levine). All of these people are crippled by pain and circumstance… and go to Rabbi Rubins “court radio” station for legal answers. This is an unusual offering… visually beautiful and well performed… A compelling theatrical story laced with Jewish tradition and rampant lust alternately. Running through June 26 at Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena at 1000 Fremont Ave. For seats, call (866) 811-4111. For online ticketing, visit www.fremontcentretheatre.com.
This must see emotional drama provides engaging theatre on every creative level! From its poignant and heart wrenching storyline, to the flawlessly gripping performances all round… we were riveted to our seats throughout! Written with gut wrenching reality, based on truth, by Elliot Shoenman, whose true familial story it tells… it focuses on a family in crisis, after the suicide of their father/husband figure, three years back. Painstakingly gritty realism and heartfelt emotion are laced with plenty of humorous moments, as this family deals with their loss… in the only ways they can manage. Directed with poignant passion and breathtaking dynamics by Mark L. Taylor… we deeply “feel” every transition this family goes through, on their road to healing. A mesmerizingly wide sweeping pictorial projection design by Adam Flemming draws us deeply into the mood of the piece, and all of the other “behind the scenes” efforts were also inspiring. Dad, having thrown himself over the railing into the Hudson River, leaves a mourning family exploding with endless questions and grief. Leaving a suicide note that only says, “I can’t take it anymore. Take care of the kids and sell the car”… he leaves a shattered family at odds, unsure of where to place blame. This story exposes their volatile journey towards peace and harmony… and for us, the trip is heart wrenchingly involving. The amazingly powerful and gifted Annie Potts (from TV’s Designing Women) plays the conflicted mother, with spunky skill. Her performance alone is worthy of your attendance! The multi-faceted talents of Daniel Taylor as her son, Meredith Bishop as her daughter and Michael Mantell as a longtime family friend, are icing on the cake! For a magical theatrical experience that will linger in your heart and soul… Do see this one! Running through June 26 at The Matrix Theatre located ay 7657 Melrose Ave. in Hollywood. For seats, call (800) 595-4849 or go to www.aftermaththeplay.com.
That’s it for this time… More next week.