And it came to pass, on the first day of April, that a season was finalized, named and announced. And the name of that season, the 2007-08 season, would be “Our biggest, most musical, most star-studded ever.” Or, upon further reflection, let’s call it “Our Program of Guilty Pleasures.” As in “more popular, populist, and powerful than we’ve ever ventured to present before.”
Some of these projects, with truly great stars attached, represent a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity to work with such great talent, on such great material, in such an intimate setting. And there’s no diminishing the season’s ambition, with a world premiere musical some three years in the making and the launching of a new incubator project with four brand new works set to be publicly workshopped. Our work on new plays has exploded in multiple directions, with performance pieces, musicals, plays about music, plays about race, plays about rabbis going through mid-life meltdowns, all lining up for production; all sharing the stage with proven work of rare accomplishment.
You won’t want to a miss a beat!
Here’s the season:
1. October 20 – November 25, 2007
SPEED THE PLOW
by David Mamet
directed by Jerry Whiddon
From the Geffen Theatre’s recent production, starring Jon Tenney and dear Theater J friend Greg Germann, directed by Randall Arney. (note, the Geffen production is not coming to DC. But our casting will be similarly inspired.)
Twenty years after its premiere on Broadway when it opened to rave reviews, sold-out shows and Madonna fans lined round the block, David Mamet’s quick-silver, jaundice-eyed comedy about getting films green-lighted in Hollywood shows no need for botox or silicone. A masterwork comedy that skewers “the business” of making movies, Speed-the-Plow is a hilarious vivisection of jealousy, power-grabbing, and the American dream of material (and possibly spiritual) transformation.
“Uproarious! ..a play as sharp as a buzz saw…” – The New York Times
With major casting news to be unveiled in a matter of days!
2. December 18, 2007 – January 20, 2008
Dan Manning and Donna Migliaccio in
SHEMIEL THE FIRST
Conceived & Adapted by Robert Brustein
based on the Play by I.B. Singer
music by Hankus Netsky & Zalman Mlotek
lyrics by Arnold Weinstein
directed by Nick Olcott
Donna Migliaccio and Dan Marring in last season’s concert reading of Shlemiel the First
Inspired by Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer’s whimsical tales about the legendary village of Chelm (the Village of Fools), this theatrical “jolt of Joy” features rollicking klezmir music, slapstick comedy, and a grand tale of mistaken identity as Gronam Ox, head of the village council, decides to appoint the lowly Shlemiel, a synagogue sexton, to spread Chelm’s dubious wisdom to other towns. Tricked by the mischievous Chaim Rascal into retracing his steps, Shlemiel thinks he has discovered a duplicate Chelm and another Mrs. Shlemiel. His comic misadventures continue as he commits adultery with his own wife and tries to convince the council there are two Shlemiels! A hit last season as part of Theater J’s Robert Brustein Residency, this spirited musical will be huge fun for the whole family over the holidays.
6-foot-3, conservative Jewish, Kosher, gay, rough-and-tumble comedienne, and mother of two boys. Not your typical Jewish mother, eh? Judy Gold’s many jokes about the stereotype, her struggle with her own identity, as well as the neurosis about becoming her mother spurred her own quest to find out what makes a Jewish mother different from a non-Jewish mother. Scanning the United States for five years, Gold (an Emmy Award winner for her work on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and a veteran stand-up comic who is host of HBO’s “At the Multiplex With Judy Gold”) together with playwright Kate Moira Ryan interviewed over 50 Jewish women, of different ages, occupations and ethnicities, ranging from non-practicing to ultra-orthodox to “confused;” from Holocaust survivors to converts. The result is a hilarious and often poignant look at the mother-daughter bond, Jewish culture and what makes a Jewish mother, well, a Jewish mother.” Or to quote The New York Times, “The result is fiercely funny, honest and moving.”
The first in what will be a multi-year tribute to Arthur Miller over the coming seasons, this twice Tony-nominated scorching drama from the greatest social playwright of our era and one of the towering American Jewish authors of the century features beloved DC treasure, Robert Prosky, veteran of Broadway, Hollywood and the Arena Stage acting company, taking to a DC stage for the first time alongside his two sons, Andy and John, both well-known thespians in their own right. Prosky plays Gregory Solomon, a 90 year-old Russian Jewish appraiser, who has been hired to assess a family’s possessions in the wake of a father’s death. Two brothers’ long-repressed dreams, desires and resentments bubble to the surface as The Price explores the legacy of choices made in the past that have contorted the present. “The big decision is always the one you don’t realize you’re making – till the results start coming in”, says Victor Franz (Andy Prosky), a middle-aged policeman near retirement, as his older brother Walter (John Prosky), a wealthy and successful surgeon absolves himself of the responsibilities that tethered his brother for the last half of their father’s life. Solomon forces the brothers to settle up and pay up, in more ways than one.
5. May 8 – June 22, 2008
DAVID IN SHADOW AND LIGHT
A world premiere musical
Libretto by Yehuda Hyman
Music by Daniel Hoffman
Directed by Nick Olcott
Commissioned by Theater J with a grant from
the National Foundation for Jewish Culture
A musical epic recounting King David’s astonishing trajectory from boy shepherd to superstar ruler to aging king with blood on his hands, as he wrestles with the lowest and the of human impulses. A poet, warrior, lover, and expedient ruler, David struggles to fill his insatiable appetite for love and glory. This multidisciplinary musical drama presents a sophisticated, post-modern frame through which the modern audience can embrace, and identify with, the exceedingly relevant political triumphs and travails of David. An almost entirely sung-through libretto crafted by Yehuda Hyman with music by virtuoso violinist Daniel Hoffman, this musical – some three years in the making – is the most passionate, well-researched and hugely ambitious project Theater J has undertaken. And those who know us well, know that’s saying a lot!
6. July 2 – 27, 2008
MORE VOICES FROM A CHANGING MIDDLE EAST
in conjunction with the Capital Fringe Festival
Projects under consideration include performances from
The Arab-Hebrew Theatre of Jaffa,
The Chan Theatre of Jerusalem
and much more!
And watch this space and our website in the coming days for the official line up in our new Incubator Program, including dates for new season’s Tea @ 2 New Play Development reading series.
That’s it for now. You’ll be able to re-subscribe, or subscribe for a first time, at Theaterj@washingtondcjcc.org or by calling 202-777-3210. But that’s the sales pitch.
This blog is the expression of exhilaration… And relief!