A funny and thoughtful examination of difference and acceptance, Art Shulman’s The Rabbi’s Mission celebrates the wide range of Jewish culture. Fine acting by the cast illuminates the themes of family and relationships.
Former Rabbi Jacob (Paul Michael Nieman) runs a Rescue Mission, working to help his clients find food and shelter as they rebuild their lives and confidence. He finds himself confronted by an old flame, Theresa (Rebecca Westberg), who is converting to Judaism at the same time as an old friend Al (Stan Mazin) approaches him about the interdenominational relationship of his son. Can Jacob resolve what it means to be in a romantic relationship with his definition of what it means to be Jewish?
Nieman’s fine performance leads the way, providing high energy and excellent timing to the proceedings. J. Kent Inasy’s self-effacing Richard grows from a nervous, insecure worrier to a proud, more confident man. The two men work well together. Shalonda Shaw makes Marci a charming, easygoing young woman, not afraid to stand up for herself. Westberg demonstrates fine chemistry and confidence as the strong though tempered Theresa.
Shulman’s work combines puns and one-liners with a discussion of what it means to be Jewish, all in a realistic and conversational way. It humorously blends the themes of family and faith.
Though it runs a bit long, The Rabbi’s Mission humorously demonstrates what it means to teach others while at the same time learning about oneself.
“The Rabbi’s Mission” plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm through Sunday, August 27 at the T.U. Studios located at 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. Tickets are $24, $18 for seniors, $10 for students under 26, and $16 for groups of 10 more. For reservations or information call (818) 285-8699 or visit TheRabbisMission.com.