The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson…. Preaches Tolerance

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From l, Armin Shimerman, David Melville, and Larry Cedar star in the World Premiere of “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord,” written by Scott Carter and directed by Matt August and now playing at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood.

From l, Armin Shimerman, David Melville, and Larry Cedar star in the World Premiere of “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord,” written by Scott Carter and directed by Matt August and now playing at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood.

Strong acting, design, and writing enliven NoHo Arts’ Center’s entertaining, thought-provoking world premiere production of The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord. The play challenges viewers to examine the moral and spiritual choices of their own lives.

Jefferson, Dickens, and Tolstoy find themselves locked in a room together, vigorously debating art, life, politics, and religion. Each defends his own spiritual beliefs, but will second thoughts change their minds as they consider their own life choices?

Playwright Scott Carter brings thoughtful insights into the spiritual lives and values of three great thinkers, considering what it means to live as a spiritual, moral person. Witty ripostes and clever dialogue add zesty humor.

The three-man cast gives excellent performances, verbally volleying zingers back and forth. David Melville steals the show as cocky, egotistical Charles Dickens, preening around the room praising his greatness. Larry Cedar brings an understated, steadying presence as the rational, even-tempered Jefferson. Armin Shimerman’s curmudgeonly, prickly Tolstoy challenges the two others at every turn.

Director Matt August keeps action moving, from constant pacing and confrontations by the characters, to the visual representation of words flying across pages. His striking visual staging illuminates thinking and the written word. These creative video visuals mimic books and pages, illuminating the creative process.

His production staff gives vivid life to proceedings, especially Ann Closs-Farley’s spot-on costumes.

This excellent, articulate presentation illuminates the spiritual philosophies of three great men while considering what it means to truly practice what you preach.

NoHo Arts Center Ensemble, Independent Shakespeare Co., and Efficiency Studios present The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Feb. 23 at the NoHo Arts Center located at 11136 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood. Tickets cost $35, $25 for students and seniors, with group rates available. For tickets, please call (818) 508-7101, ext. 6, or visit nohoace.com. For further information on the play, visit jdtproject.com.

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