Back and Forth and Back (and Forth) on the Bus: Judy Gold (with update!), Zero Hour (with video), and Yonkers (with love) Keeps Rolling In

So we closed LOST IN YONKERS back on Sunday. On Monday, headed up to New York Theatre Workshop to see an afternoon reading of an even-more improved version of BENEDICTUS, the Motti Lerner script based on his collaboration with Iranian theater artists Mahmood Karimi-Hakak and Torange Yeghiazarian. It was wonderful to meet with Motti over dinner after and talk about his new project, a potential collaboration involving Theater J and one of Israel’s most distinguished flagship institutions. It’s too soon to share more details. Suffice to say, the collaboration lives on as we continue to support this brave and prolific Israeli writer on new works as well as pushing recently produced work onto next productions in New York and beyond.

After returning to DC Tuesday morning for IN DARFUR production meetings and some catch up time with my family, I was back on the bus to New York on Wednesday for the start of rehearsals for Judy Gold’s new show. Judy’s collaborator on 25 QUESTIONS FOR A JEWISH MOTHER, Kate Moira Ryan, has been brought into the collaborative process and has helped to focus, punch, and make more poignant the journey Judy goes on in her latest iteration of MOMMY QUEEREST (now with the additional sub-title: “IT’S JEWDY’S SHOW”) which is the running bit in this very funny frame for Judy’s journey; that she’s consumed with getting her own TV Sitcom so that her two kids can see their lives reflected and finally accepted by mainstream culture. Judy grew up a bit of a misfit, towering over her peers and proverbially out of place and sought refuge and quick emotional fixes in the sitcoms of the 60s and 70s. Her kids seek the same. But is America ready for a gay, feminist, kosher SEINFELD? Why can’t Judy get legally married in the Jew state of New York? Pungent and funny and revealing, the play’s a brand new work of art, wildly different from the version I saw at Joe’s Pub 8 months ago. And so, willy nilly, we’re working on a new play with a great team and it’s a lot of work in a hurry and a very exciting time to be launching a culturally up to the minute new show starring an indomitable talent. And I’m not even talking about Sandra Bernhard right now! It’s JEWDY’S SHOW, damnit (as she’s no doubt punctuate it).

And guess what? I’m heading up again right now, as I type this, for rehearsal #3 now that Kate has sent a top to bottom rewrite after Monday’s excellent rehearsal and feedback session.

* * * And here’s the update: I’ve read the script on Megabus – Laughing Out Loud throughout – Cried twice – show’s in great shape! Great meeting just now (I’m revising this in nyc) with director Amanda Charlton while Judy keeps practicing the piano – couldn’t be happier! So much for the update.) * * *

Tonight I finally see ZERO HOUR in its New York iteration. I’ll be seeing the show with RISE AND FALL OF ANNIE HALL playwright Sam Forman (who has a new play he just sent me, I’ll be reading it as soon as I’m done reading the rewrite of Jewdy!) And herein I share with you video from the opening night of ZERO HOUR, courtesy or our superstar buddy, Steve Schalchlin.

Finally, I share with you a bundle of encomiums from LOST IN YONKERS. Check out this Final Round Up of Wonderful Words from Audience members writing into Becky:

I was visiting DC from Alabama. But next time I am in DC I will be sure to come for another performance at theatre J. It was wonderful.
-Betty Massey

* * *

We immensely enjoyed the production of Lost in Yonkers. Ari Roth was kind enough to provide us with complimentary tickets for the performance. We had purchased two tickets for Sunday, Nov. 8th and due to last minute ill health weren’t able to use them. When Ari heard about the situation he graciously offered us the wonderful seats for the evening of Sunday, Nov. 22nd. Would you please relay him to our thanks and great appreciation. By the way, when we attended on the 22nd we purchased a subscription and some other friends are doing the same.

Please relay this to Ari for us with our thanks and good wishes,

-Susan Hanenbaum

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Enjoyed the show immensely! Casting was superb and the set design was outstanding. We attend the Jewish Film Festival yearly, but this was only the second play that we have seen at Theater J. The other was last year’s “The Price” with Robert Protzky which was also excellent. Will definitely return!

-Ruthie Sokolove

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I have to tell you that “Lost in Yonkers” was everything that a theater experience should be.
Wonderful acting, great production and a story that brought both laughter and tears. My wife and I see lots of theater, but “Lost in Yonkers” is the best thing we’ve seen in a long while.

-Marty tolchin

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I came to see “Yonkers” twice. The first time on my regular subscription; the second time (last night) with a friend who drove in from Newark, Delaware, to see Tana Hicken and Holly Twyford. We both loved what we saw and heard. It was a wonderful night at the theater. Theater as it should be: a good play, a terrific cast, a set that works, and, of couse, a master director. With that combination, success will be yours forever. Happy Thanksgiving Day.

-Renee Gier

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Thank we enjoyed the show and even though we were in the top row, we could hear and see everything.

-Murray & Baila Jacobson

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Yes, the cast is outstanding, the play is priceless, wonderfully relevant for today, and I, for one, not only laughed delightedly throughout, but cried buckets over Bella toward the end of the play. However, in Ari Roth’s program remarks, nowhere does he mention the magical directorial work of Jerry Whiddon. What got me to return this time to Theatre J were three people: Tana Hicken, Holly Twyford, and Jerry Whiddon. Simple. Knowing each of their work through the past 20-30 years, I knew that there was no way it could go flat, and you proved me right. I only wish Mr. Whiddon had been mentioned in Mr. Roth’s piece, too.
Thank you for a memorable theater experience!

-Danielle Hansen

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We’ve been subscribers to Theater J for many years and love the shows. Congrats to Ari on his Forward recognition. It’s well deserved. Also for participating at the J Street Conference. We recently caught Michael Wex’s talk, “act”, at the GWJCC. He had an older audience, there to hear more about Yiddish, in stitches for 45 minutes. His new book, Just Say Nu, is available on tape. I think he could easily prepare a one man 2 act “play” which would entertain, amuse, and enlighten our audience. A former Prof at Michigan, he’s a unique blend of Yiddish scholar and masterful comedian. Everyone with a Jewish background should be exposed to Michael. His humor is infectious.

-Roz Kaye & Moe Finkelstein

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Loved the show and bought a subscription
– Merri

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We thought Lost in Yonkers was the best play we’ve seen at Theatre J and better than the original Broadway production. Keep up the good work!

-diane shrier

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Just a note to say how much two friends and I enjoyed “Lost in Yonkers” !! A poignant and funny show elevated by truly excellent performances by all who shared the stage.
The three of us hale from New Mexico, New York, and London — so, our collective praise spans a continent and an ocean. Well done.

-Dean Rudoy