Thoughts from our audiences….

Becky here…We’ve asked our audiences for feedback on their expereinces seeing Lost in Yonkers and there’s a few excerpts below. We’d love to hear from you too! Post a comment to the blog and share your own thoughts.

“It was a wonderful night at the theater for my wife, our 15-year-old son, and for me. It’s hard to believe that such a quality performance can be had at such a reasonable price. The intimacy of the theater is one strong point that will keep up coming back. I have missed some productions in past years but hope to attend more regularly from this point on. Being able to get the tickets at the preview price was an added bonus, although the quality of the production would have made it a steal at even the full price.

Thanks for putting on a show such as this. It was amusing to learn that Brighton Beach closed last week on Broadway after a seven-day run. Things might have been different if the J-team had been involved!”
– Theater J patron, C Sachs

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“We loved Lost in Yonkers. I took my teen daughter, I want to introduce her to theater. We saw Zero Hour the month before. She has really enjoyed the shows and I am grateful there are entertaining, high quality shows that I can take her to.

(Re: Lost inYonkers) we talked about how the playwright builds suspense, how the grandsons, son and daughter talk about the grandmother before we actually see her. Ho this develops her as a character. These techniques are not usually exercised in pop culture (TV) and bc my teen is totally wired to instant messaging, web surfing and immediate gratification, she is seeing an art form she doesn’t get much exposure to. (This concerns me about her generation!).

She studied the McCarthy era and immigration in school, so the Zero Hour really was relevant to what she learned. I remember Zero Mostel from my childhood (A Funny thing happened on the way to the Forum), but was not aware of the his political activities or appearances before the committee for unamerican activities. It was a learning experience for me as well.

We enjoyed both plays immensely. I saw other parents there with their teens. It really is a wonderful family experience and Theater J features shows that raise issues that we as a society should talk about. And then there are the shows that are just good entertainment.

Thank you again, we look forward to attending more shows.”
– Theater J patron

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” Four of us came to see Lost in Yonkers together. We thought the play was tremendous and we always enjoy coming to see the plays at the DCJCC ”
– Patron

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J is for Journaling (aka blogging)

Shirley here.

Some good news and some sad news to share, we’ll start with the sad.

Larry Gelbart–writer for stage and screen, and a creative force behind the television series “M*A*S*H,” Broadway hits like “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and film comedies like “Tootsie”–died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 81. (ed. note: it’s been pointed out to me that this information was already linked to in a comment from this weekend. Sorry for the repeat!)

You can read his obituary in the Times here; which quotes his fabled statement “If Hitler’s still alive, I hope he’s out of town with a musical.” That line also appears in ZERO HOUR when our “Zero” talks about FORUM’s somewhat rickety road to the great white way.

It’s so strange when real life and theatrical life intersect in this way. I’d heard of Larry Gelbart before, but only put together the full picture of his career recently, as I did research for this show. For me it’s more about the tail end of his career–I saw his show CITY OF ANGELS as a freshman in high school; three years later I used a song from it for my college auditions (while I was a poor excuse for a femme fatale, I loved the song).

We’re glad to play (even a small) tribute to Gelbart’s humor and commitment in ZERO HOUR.

As for the good news–we hosted the third of our town hall meetings Sunday evening after the matinee of ZERO HOUR–with yet another solid house and lively discussion. This one, titled What Does the J in Theater J Mean? aimed to “delve into Theater J’s identity as it applies to both Jewish and non-Jewish patrons, and what the various expectations and wants from a Jewish theater company might be.”

Ari and I were joined by several of our Theater J council members and actress Naomi Jacobson, notable at this event as one of the few Theater J actors who is of Jewish decent. Continue reading

Some Shots from our Season Preview

Many thanks to designer Eric Grims for providing us with these fantastic images!

Max Talisman and Marcus Kyd in a scene from Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS

Max Talisman and Marcus Kyd in a scene from Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS

Director Jerry Whiddon shares his thoughts about LOST IN YONKERS.

Director Jerry Whiddon shares his thoughts about LOST IN YONKERS.

Prouction Manager Delia Taylor reacts to Rebecca Ende (Director of Marketing) as she refers to THE FOUR OF US as a "bro-mance".

Production Manager Delia Taylor reacts to Rebecca Ende (Director of Marketing & Communication) as she refers to THE FOUR OF US as a "bro-mance".

Tricia Homer and Tonya Beckman Ross in a scene from IN DARFUR

Tricia Homer and Tonya Beckman Ross read a scene from Winter Miller's IN DARFUR.

Artistic Director Ari Roth speaks about putting together a season; Managing Director Patricia Jenson and Director of Literary and Public Programming Shirley Serotsky look on.

Artistic Director Ari Roth speaks about putting together a season; Managing Director Patricia Jenson and Director of Literary and Public Programming Shirley Serotsky look on.

Helen Pafumi reacts to Tonya Beckman Ross in a scene from MIKVEH.

Helen Pafumi reacts to Tonya Beckman Ross in a scene from MIKVEH.

Marketing & Group Sales Associate Becky Peters speaks about the rarity of an all-female cast, as is the case with MIKVEH.

Marketing & Group Sales Associate Becky Peters speaks about the rarity of an all-female cast, as is the case with MIKVEH.

Casting Director Naomi Robin narrates the evening.

Casting Director Naomi Robin narrates the evening.

Dan Crane and Lawrence Redmond in a scene from NEW JERUSALEM.

Dan Crane and Lawrence Redmond in a scene from NEW JERUSALEM.

Zero Wields a Paintbrush

From Shirley, with thoughts from the dramaturgical desk…

Why does ZERO HOUR (for which performances begin August 29) take place in a painter’s studio?

Zero Mostel stated famously and frequently that he was a painter first, a comedian and performer second. In an article about his (and other celebrities’) visual art, Baird Jones of Artnet Magazine wrote, “Zero Mostel painted virtually every day, insisting that he was foremost a painter and only secondly a thespian. In the work by Mostel that I’ve seen, he seemed to concentrate on painting his own hands, often fragmented in a Cubist manner and with a very subdued palette. Perhaps being blacklisted as a Communist during the 1950s contributed to Mostel’s introspection. Celebrity devotion to art-making may actually reflect a desire for privacy. The artist’s studio is a notoriously solitary place, after all.”

In a 2001 New York Times piece, Mel Gussow writes about his observations as Mostel’s neighbor on Monhegan Island, an artists’ sanctuary off the coast of Maine, musing, “Even before he was an actor, Zero was a dedicated artist, and, for him, the two professions were related. Through the art, one can begin to see the prismatic diversity of the man, who with bold strokes expressed his theatricality on canvas and paper. In the gallery were abstracts, nudes, abstract nudes and, most impressively, self-portraits. Each self-portrait was different, as if the subject were playing a series of roles in life.”

This one of Zero Mostel’s Self-Portraits:
Mostel Self Portrait

Well arm-chair art analysts: what do you think this work tells us about Zero Mostel?