The Rule of Three
by Tony Chase
A quick look at some local productions
Sometimes powerful truths hide beneath our petty differences. That’s the case in Joshua Harmon’s comedy, Bad Jews, now running at the Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY, in a production directed by Steve Vaughan. Arin Lee Dandes, Adam Rath, Nick Stevens play the grandchildren of a beloved man, who survived the holocaust but has recently died. In contention is who should most rightfully inherit the gold Chai pendant the old man hid in his mouth for two years while imprisoned in a concentration camp, and which he used, after the war, to propose to grandma when he couldn’t afford a ring.
This does not sound like the stuff of comedy, but it is.
Cousins Liam and Daphna played by Adam Rath and Arin Lee Dandes, behave abominably as each maneuvers to own the meaningful piece of jewelry. Liam’s fairminded brother Jonah, played by Nick Stevens tries to stay out of the fray, but finds that to be impossible. This trio is marvelous, tweaking every ounce of comedy and angst out of Harmon’s engaging script. Jamie Nablo is similarly able as Liam’s Christian girlfriend from Delaware.
Before the evening is over, we have examined what it means to be a good person, a good Jew, and a good relation—and have been prompted to consider the value of a specific heritage.
There are times when the family fracas threatens to spin out of control, but Vaughan’s production always finds its way back on track. Bad Jews continues through Feb. 28th at the Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre, in the Jewish Community Center in Getzville.
FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN
Lincoln Perry, aka “Stepin Fetchit,” (1902-1985) was the first African American movie star to become a millionaire. In later years he would be criticized for having perpetuated the negative stereotype of the lazy and mischievous man of color. He contended, by contrast, that he entered Hollywood through the back door so that others could enter through the front. Gradually, his legacy as a Hollywood pioneer has grown. It was given a major boost in the 1960s, when he became a friend of boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Will Power’s play, Fetch Clay, Make Man, visits the Fetchit-Ali relationship and explores the idea of success, legacy, being an agent for social progress, and being true to oneself.
The production at the Paul Robeson Theatre, directed by Laverne Clay, benefits from the formidable talents of “Fisher” as Stepin Fetchit, and Johnny Rowe as Ali. The pair appealingly channels the familiar personalities of two cultural icons. They are assisted by the fine work of Joe Giambra as the head of Fox Studios, Leon Copeland as Ali’s assistant, and the stunning and talented Courtney Turner who plays Ali’s first wife, Sonji Roi. The production continues through Feb. 28.
Ordinary Days is a little musical by Adam Gwon about young adults forging out on their own. Specifically, the show explores that moment of terror when a person realizes that the future might not hold fame, fortune, the Nobel Prize, and the career of Napoleon. In other words, these young people must learn to savor the ordinary. Directed by Victoria Perez for O’Connell & Company, the chief virtue of this production is the abundance of talent embodied by its cast of four young actors: Reed Bentley, Edith Grossman, Adam Hayes, and Jennel Pruneda. The show is fresh and appealing, and with honesty, these young talents are, in their way, quite extra-ordinary.
The production continues through Feb 21.blog comments powered by Disqus
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