Archive for April, 2013

“Smash/Hit!” Has Potential But Needs Work As It Premieres At The Black Rep

April 27, 2013
Ronald L. Conner and Matthew Galbreath whip up the crowd at the Black Rep's "Smash/Hit!" Photo: Stewart Goldstein

Ronald L. Conner and Matthew Galbreath whip up the crowd at the Black Rep’s “Smash/Hit!” Photo: Stewart Goldstein

A world premiere production of a new hip-hop play with music has a shaky start at the Black Rep, but “Smash/Hit!” has a lot going for it- everything just needs to fall into the right place. Steve Broadnax and Michael Bordner have put a lot of their life story into this play and they may have tried to put too much where they should have narrowed their focus.

Two buddies have been trying to break into the big time with their duo, calling themselves Money and Chance and collectively, No Plan B. The play opens with a dream as they imagine themselves wowing a crowd with their best song, “The American Dream.” Then we get hit with the reality as the hot-headed Money gets his girlfriend, Joi pregnant and realizes he must do something in a hurry to keep the money flowing. His decision is to join the Army and he serves time in Iraq. Meanwhile, Chance has moved on his own and is making connections- particularly with a radio promoter known as Good Boy. But on his return, Money finds fault with everything and continues to ruin the duo’s chances at every turn with his quick temper and the resulting post traumatic stress syndrome from his stint overseas. Unfortunately, with plot lines running in every direction and no real resolution, “Smash/Hit!” fails to score with the audience.

Ronald L. Conner, FeliceSkye and Matthew Galbreath share some tense moments in "Smash/Hit!" at the Black Rep. Photo: Steward Goldstein

Ronald L. Conner, FeliceSkye and Matthew Galbreath share some tense moments in “Smash/Hit!” at the Black Rep. Photo: Steward Goldstein

The good news is that Ronald L. Conner as Money and Matthew Galbreath as Chance are simply outstanding. Both as actors and as rappers, they score big. Although I’ve yet to see a play that successfully portrays wartime symptoms such as PTSD, Conner’s performance is superb. And Galbreath really handles some of the difficult decisions in Chance’s life with strength and believability. A real stand-out, FeliceSkye really shines as the beleaguered Joi. Her ups and downs in dealing with Money’s problems and the problems in their relationship really ring true.

Justin Ivan Brown turns in another great performance as the sleazy and enigmatic Good Boy. He truly believes in No Plan B but some of his ulterior motives bring on yet another subplot that makes “Smash/Hit!” a bit too top-heavy. Rounding out the cast is a superb job by D.J. Super Nova perched on a platform above the stage providing music and sound to enhance the performance. Artistic Director of the Black Rep, Ron Himes, has directed with a keen eye to honing in on what is important in this meandering script. It covers a lot of the same material while trying to cover too much material at the same time. Some definite trimming is needed and a more focused center. There also were, at times, a bit of unrehearsed quality about it as we had unintentional gaps until things got back on track.

D.J. Super Nova and Justin Ivan Brown get things moving at 107.5 on the dial during "Smash/Hit!" at the Black Rep. Photo: Stewart Goldstein

D.J. Super Nova and Justin Ivan Brown get things moving at 107.5 on the dial during “Smash/Hit!” at the Black Rep. Photo: Stewart Goldstein

The great Jim Burwinkel set design fits the emphasis as well as the flow of the play very well and David Warfel’s lights are an outstanding complement to the story. Lou Bird’s costumes are right on the money and Robin Weatherall’s sound design is evocative, particularly in the war scenes.

The music is great and well executed by these two likable entertainers. Even some of the dialogue- especially when one or the other is trying to create rap- has a great syncopation that helps move the story along without actual singing. In other words, it’s a lyrical play at times and, as I said, has great potential. Broadnax and Bordner have created some compelling characters and the structure for a great story. In this world premiere performance, I can see great things for “Smash/Hit!” with some hard work and some serious tweaks.

“Smash/Hit!” plays at the Black Rep through May 18th. It’s always great to attend a world premiere and, despite some of the flaws (which they’ll probably work on as the play continues), it’s a great evening of music and outstanding performances. Call the box office at 314-534-3810 or contact the Black Rep at http://www.theblackrep.org for tickets or more information.

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Allen’s Alley- News & Notes On Theatre In St. Louis (04-24-13)

April 24, 2013

Allen's Alley picGuh-doe or God-oh?—-

With the current production of “Waiting For Godot” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio, we had one of several discussions about the correct pronunciation for Godot at the West End Pub and Grill after the opening night performance. Evidently Samuel Beckett said “God-oh” is correct even though most productions in the U.S. have always used the “Guh-doe” form until the latest Broadway production last year. The pronunciation was even discussed on one of the early morning news shows with members of the cast. But the proper way to say “Godot” seems less significant than the play itself and the various interpretations of what is really happening during those two acts on the country road with that ever-present tree.

If you’ve ever pursued theatre courses in college, you probably came across class sessions or even entire classes studying Beckett’s masterpiece. Even though some scholarly works have referred to Estragon and Vladimir as resembling Laurel and Hardy (mainly because of the bowler hats and their similarity to a vaudeville team). In my review of the STLAS production, I found Bobby Miller’s direction of the two closer to Abbot and Costello because of the rapid-fire exchange of dialogue- similar to such bits as “Who’s On First” and “The Susqeuhanna Hat Company.” But who do they represent and, for that matter, who do all of the characters represent? Which leads to the overall tenor of the play. Is it religious (with the obvious reference of God-ot), or is it political, social, or rooted in some other philosophical or moralistic theme? BTW, Becket said he got the name Godot from the French slang term for boot, godillot. Since boots play a major role in the play, that may be true. Besides, the play was orginally written in French and the French word for God is Dieu. More food for thought.

Then there’s all of the other underlying questions about characters, setting, dialogue and everything else that make this enigmatic play so fascinating even though it deals with “nothing.” My advice? Go see the STLAS production and revel in the sheer joy of wonderful performances and a crisp, clean production. Then come up with your own theories on what it all means.

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We’re entering on a busy May theatre schedule, but several groups are announcing their new seasons coming up soon. Let’s take a look at what they have in store.

insightThis summer Insight Theatre Company will offer a well-timed Tony winning musical along with several plays, a children’s production and a very special guest.

– Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two”- May 29th-June 9th with a special luncheon with Marsha Mason on June 9th. She, of course, was Neil Simon’s personal “chapter two”- his second marriage.

– “1776”- June 26-July 7th. Just in time for Independence Day.

– “Charlotte’s Web”- July 19th-21st.

– “Time Stands Still”- August 15th-25th. By playwright Donald Margulies.

– “Our Town”- September 18th-29th. The classic Thornton Wilder story about a small town that becomes a microcosm of the universe.

Contact Insight Theatre Company at 314-556-1293 for tickets or more information.

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Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 11.53.04 AMR-S Theatrics has a wonderful season planned as well. Here we go…

– “The Cherry Sisters Revisited”- by Dan O’Brien. June 6th-16th.

– “Parade”- the musical by Jason Robert Browne and Arthur Uhry. September 6th-15th.

– “Oh Hell!- An Evening of 2 One Acts”- December 6th-15th. The plays include “Bobby Gould In Hell” by David Mamet and “The Devil And Billy Markham” by Shel Silverstein. “Bobby Gould” will be directed by Michael James Reed who played Charlie Fox to Christopher Hickey’s Bobby Gould in the New Jewish Theatre’s production of “Speed-The-Plow” which Mamet followed up with this one-act. The second one-act will be directed by Robert Ashton.

Visit R-S Theatrics’ website, http://www.r-stheatrics.com to get more info.

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Pop quiz: What former managing director of a current theatre in town shares his name with a former actor of a now defunct theatre group? Hint: The theatre’s share more than this coincidental “name’s the same.”

“Waiting For Godot” Is Puzzling As Ever But A Great STLAS Cast Makes The Wait Worthwhile

April 22, 2013
Aaron Orion Baker, Terry Meddows and Gary Wayne Barker in STLAS' production of "Waiting For Godot."

Aaron Orion Baker, Terry Meddows and Gary Wayne Barker in STLAS’ production of “Waiting For Godot.”

Theatre classes, seminars and scholarly works have tried to define what Estragon and Vladimir are going through in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot” for 60 years. Are they in some sort of Purgatory? Hell? Or is is merely a commentary on how our life on earth is wasted in the pursuit or non-pursuit of happiness and fulfillment? Whatever it represents, a solid cast can keep you entertained for two hours while (like Seinfeld) they discuss nothing in particular. Fortunately, St. Louis Actors’ Studio supplies us with that cast, excellent direction and the perfect setting for these five lost souls.

Terry Meddows and Gary Wayne Barker lead the way as the befuddled pair Estragon (GoGo) and Vladimir (Didi). We observe them on two- maybe consecutive- days as they are waiting for the mysterious Godot- again, we can only guess who this person is. Is it the obvious (especially the way they pronounce it, God-Oh instead of the more traditional Guh-doe) or is it merely another metaphor for what we may be looking for in our life? But whether discussing sore feet, choosing between a carrot and a turnip or relating what happened to themselves the night before (for they appear to be together only in the daylight), these two actors share pitch-perfect timing. At times reminiscent of an Abbot and Costello routine, they trade banter with ease. They are friends, enemies but always dependent on each other. Even when Estragon suggests they part ways or move on together, Vladimir reminds him that they must wait for the all-important Godot. Two brilliant performances linked by a dependence on each other as close as their characters.

Into this bleak setting comes a shabby yet pretentious Pozzo, played with a beautiful blend of haughtiness and bewilderment by Greg Johnston. His tattered clothing has seen better days but he is clearly in command of the gentleman he is leading with a thick rope around his neck, ironically called Lucky. Aaron Orion Baker bows and scrapes to every little whim of Pozzo with scuffling step and a proper deference to his superior. Although he only reacts when commanded to do so by Pozzo, he is silent until Pozzo tells him to think and then goes on a harangue worthy of a Senate filibuster and just about as lucid. Another solid performance that fits right into this bizarre and existential world they all live in. Rounding out the cast is young Hayden Benbenek as a boy who appears only to announce that Mr. Godot will not arrive today, but will surely be here tomorrow.

Terry Meddows, Hayden Benbenek and Gary Wayne Barker in "Waiting For Godot" at STLAS.

Terry Meddows, Hayden Benbenek and Gary Wayne Barker in “Waiting For Godot” at STLAS.

Bobby Miller has directed with a keen eye for the absurdity of the play. He, along with another theatre legend in town, Wayne Solomon, starred in a production 34 years ago at Theatre Project Company (I fortunately saw that one, too). He’s working with an elite cast but has them amping up this script with workmanlike precision. It flows, it moves and has every little touch and nuance that makes it hit home with the audience. And the Patrick Huber set and lighting design is spot on as well. A real, fully grown tree is up center and evidently had to be cut and reassembled on the small STLAS stage. But it’s worth it as it adds to the desolation of the piece as a whole.

As I said at the beginning- “Waiting For Godot” can be many different things to many people. Interpretation, like art itself, is in the eye of the beholder. That’s why those classes, seminars and volumes of works on the subject I talked about earlier mean everything and nothing. For that’s what “Godot” is all about- everything and nothing. This is truly a first rate production of a classic example of theatre of the absurd.

“Waiting For Godot” is, I’m happy to report, playing to sold-out houses. So give them a call at St. Louis Actors’ Studio, 314-458-2978 or log into http://www.stlas.org for tickets or more information.

Unexpected Humor And Clever Staging Make For An Entertaining “Jane Eyre” At Mustard Seed

April 15, 2013
A scene from "Jane Eyre" playing at Mustard Seed Theatre. Photo courtesy of Mustard Seed

A scene from “Jane Eyre” playing at Mustard Seed Theatre. Photo courtesy of Mustard Seed

Mustard Seed Theatre always has a few surprises up their sleeve and this sprightly adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” by Julie Beckman deals with the rather bleak story in an unconventional manner. Yes, Jane is still the orphan who’s mistreated at the hands of her uncle’s family and yes, she finds happiness with Edward Rochester only to have a mad wife and a fire throw a monkey wrench into her life- but the unexpected humor Ms. Beckman inserts into the story not only works, but it makes her dealings with such misery more hopeful than most renditions.

A mishap at the hands of the mad woman living in the upper stories from Mustard Seed's "Jane Eyre." Photo courtesy of Mustard Seed Theatre

A mishap at the hands of the mad woman living in the upper stories from Mustard Seed’s “Jane Eyre.” Photo courtesy of Mustard Seed Theatre

The first thing you notice is that some stage directions and even characters thoughts become dialogue. After a while it doesn’t seem odd that Mrs. Fairfax announces her entrance and what she plans to do next. This and other touches of light-heartedness are a welcome addition to the story. Of course, you must have a strong Jane and nobody can deliver the goods better than Sarah Cannon. Every feeling is expressed through body language, facial expressions and voice inflection. With the audience being this close to the action, it’s marvelous to watch her work. Whether a sarcastic “throw away” line or intense pain and grief, Ms. Cannon’s emotions are laid on the line.

As her Rochester, Shaun Sheley also displays a wonderful range of emotions. His dark, moody character comes through but a touch of whimsy adds beautifully to the mix. Donna Weinsting does everything but steal the show with her dual role of the cruel aunt and then a delightful turn as Mrs. Fairfax. She gives us a lesson in perfect timing with her delivery of lines and attitude. It’s a perfect performance. The rest of the ensemble also plays various roles to tell this vast story of tragedy and triumph. Most notable is Richard Lewis as a nasty schoolmaster, a minister and several other roles.

Sarah Cannon as Jane and Donna Weinsting as her cruel, dying aunt in "Jane Eyre" at Mustard Seed Theatre. Photo courtesy of Mustard Seed

Sarah Cannon as Jane and Donna Weinsting as her cruel, dying aunt in “Jane Eyre” at Mustard Seed Theatre. Photo courtesy of Mustard Seed

B. Weller cracked me up with his perfect Nigel Bruce-like befuddlement as Act II opens with a ball at Rochester’s manor. Also in the ensemble are Gregory Cuellar, Katie Donnelly, Laura Ernst, Kathryn Hunter, Carmen Russell and Leslie Wobbe. Between establishing a series of believable characters, they also help the scene changes run smoothly and efficiently.

And speaking of the set, Dunsi Dai has created a masterpiece with several levels and several areas that function as somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty or so places. Even high flying arches over both sides of the stage help set the mood. Michael Sullivan’s lighting design also adds drama and the JC Kracijek costumes are perfect period pieces. And two of the actors double on flute to provide some excellent period musical background to the proceedings.

And, of course, the spot-on direction of Mustard Seed’s Artistic Director, Deanna Jent, makes this unusual adaptation work to perfection. It’s a trip to “Jane Eyre” that you’re not likely to see again. A delightful balance of tragedy and winning over the hardships that befall her, this play is not to be missed. “Jane Eyre” runs through April 28th at Mustard Seed Theatre. Call them at 314-719-8060 or contact them at mustardseedtheatre.com for tickets or more information.

“Opus” Offers Life Lessons Through Machinations Of A String Quartet At West End Players Guild

April 8, 2013
Stephen Peirick, John Wolbers, Jonathan Hey and Dennis L. Fowarczny II have an argument after their White House engagement in "Opus" at WEPG. Photo: John Lamb

Stephen Peirick, John Wolbers, Jonathan Hey and Dennis L. Fowarczny II have an argument after their White House engagement in “Opus” at WEPG. Photo: John Lamb

A very astute and smart extended one-act by Michael Hollinger has its local premiere at West End Players Guild and they make the most of this humorous, tense and realistic look behind a world-renowned string quartet. “Opus” takes us on an unexpected journey through egos and professional jealousy that makes or breaks the artistic temperament and credibility of the group as a whole.

Director Jerry McAdams transforms the usual WEPG space into an intimate three-quarter space that allows us to feel how cramped and tightly knit rehearsals for the quartet can be. With able assistance from designer and tech director, Ken Clark, it works beautifully. Stephen Peirick leads the way and commands the stage even when he isn’t present. As perhaps the biggest ego but the most demanding and meticulous of the quartet, he really keeps them on the path to a quality sound. But this strive for perfection keeps the others “unstrung,” as it were. You hear comments about “it’s good enough,” or “let’s keep that take.” But Peirick’s Dorian knows they won’t reach and keep their high standards without the effort.

John Wolbers, Jonathan Hey, Dennis L. Folwarczny II and Caitlin Mickey rehearse during the WEPG production of "Opus." Photo: John Lamb

John Wolbers, Jonathan Hey, Dennis L. Folwarczny II and Caitlin Mickey rehearse during the WEPG production of “Opus.” Photo: John Lamb

John Wolbers is delightfully sarcastic as Elliot. His lust for Dorian’s instrument is clear and their unstable relationship becomes clear as well as the play progresses. Dennis L. Folwarczny II as Carl seems to be the most steadying influence in the group but even he can have some classic moments- most importantly his reticence in revealing a recent health prognosis. Alan, played by Jonathan Hey, is the least uptight of the quartet and even tries to have a dalliance with the newest member of the group when Dorian is dismissed.

That “fifth” member is Grace, played with demure innocence by Caitlin Mickey. She is the most accomplished of the quartet who does have strong opinions but shies away from expressing them most of the time. When members of the group- Elliot in particular- frown on any romantic inclinations in the quartet- they begin to turn on him, knowing of his past relationship with Dorian.

Caitlin Mickey and Stephen Peirick share a tense moment in "Opus" at WEPG. Photo: John Lamb

Caitlin Mickey and Stephen Peirick share a tense moment in “Opus” at WEPG. Photo: John Lamb

An invitation to the White House for a performance highlights the pinnacle of success for the quartet but it also begins to undermine the stability of the group. A series of plot twists bring “Opus” to a dramatic conclusion in what is a very satisfying evening of theatre. The precise off stage music, the result of Mr. McAdams creation and the execution by Mary Beth Winslow, makes the quartet’s playing of instruments highly believable. The Tony Anselmo lighting design and the costumes of Renee Sevier-Monsey also add well to the mix. The night I attended, A Fifth Above Woodwind Quintet performed on the set before the performance and were simply outstanding. It really got the audience in the mood for the play.

With powerful and close-knit performances and strong direction, “Opus” is well worth seeing at West End Players Guild. It’s good enough to see twice and the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis will offer that opportunity next season on their Mainstage. But you can’t go wrong with this excellent performance at WEPG. It only plays through April 14th, so contact West End Players Guild at westendplayers.org for tickets or more information.

“Gypsy” Lite Works Thanks To A Sterling Cast At Stray Dog Theatre

April 6, 2013
The extended family of Mama Rose, Herbie and the girls gather for the arrival of Mr. Goldstone during Stray Dog's "Gypsy." Photo: John Lamb

The extended family of Mama Rose, Herbie and the girls gather for the arrival of Mr. Goldstone during Stray Dog’s “Gypsy.” Photo: John Lamb

Artistic Director and director of this production of “Gypsy,” Gary F. Bell, announces before the show that we’re about to see a scaled down production of one of most everyone’s “Top Ten” musicals. Thanks to a wonderful cast and a clever, effective set design by David Blake and Justin Been, the show works in this format. The stage at Stray Dog’s home- Tower Grove Abbey- can sometimes be a challenge with multiple set changes but these worked smoothly and made the 3 hour show fly by.

Herbie (Ken Haller), Mama Rose (Deborah Sharn and Louise (Sabra Sellers) vow to stay "Together" during "Gypsy" at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Herbie (Ken Haller), Mama Rose (Deborah Sharn and Louise (Sabra Sellers) vow to stay “Together” during “Gypsy” at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Deborah Sharn shines as the vibrant and often abrasive Mama Rose. This is a role that most musical actresses have on their must-do list and she gets to tackle it while she’s young. Her stunning first act closer, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” will just blow you away. And a strong, almost understated “Rose’s Turn” at show’s close cements this show as exclusively hers. What a performance. Also in the spotlight is Sabra Sellers as the shy Louise who blossoms into stripper extraordinaire, Gypsy Rose Lee. Displaying a beautiful singing voice and a strong, confident transition into belated adulthood (thanks to the machinations of Mama Rose), she is nothing short of stunning.

Ken Haller is a superb Herbie. Again,  a strong singing voice and just the right amount of nebbishness, makes a perfect foil to the domineering Deborah Sharn. His final ultimatum is perfectly stated and fits perfectly into the dramatic side of this show. Jennifer Theby-Quinn is delightful as the grown up June who Mama grooms to be the real star of the family. Her duet with Sabra Sellers on “If Mama Was Married” is one of the highlights in a show filled with magic moments.

Louise finally blossoms into Gypsy Rose Lee during Stray Dog's "Gypsy." Photo: John Lamb

Louise finally blossoms into Gypsy Rose Lee during Stray Dog’s “Gypsy.” Photo: John Lamb

“Gypsy” is a vast show spanning a tremendous amount of time so some characters are fleeting. Doing a star turn with “All I Need Is The Girl” is Zach Wachter as Tulsa. The trio of strippers, Kimberly Still as the trumpet-toting Mazeppa, Jennie Ryan as Tessie and Paula Stoff Dean as Electra, bring the house down in their show-stopping number, “You Gotta Get A Gimmick.” The vast ensemble all do the show proud and there’s never a dull moment as we traverse from town to town with this often reluctant show business family who never quite make the grade in their efforts to “Let Me Entertain You.” This cast, however, does nothing but entertain us with a strong dedication of a masterpiece and their grasp of the era of Mama and Gypsy.

The one, surprising sour note of the evening when we saw it was the “Gypsy” band. Musicals in the past at Stray Dog have been right on the mark but the pitch problems

Deborah Sharn, as Mama Rose, takes center stage for "Rose's Turn" at the conclusion of "Gypsy" at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Deborah Sharn, as Mama Rose, takes center stage for “Rose’s Turn” at the conclusion of “Gypsy” at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

and often dissonant sounds made it sound like Mazeppa may have been in the band. Hopefully this was just an off night because everything else about the show leaves you hoping it will never end. With the space problems, the delightful J.T. Ricroft choreography didn’t have a chance to bust out in full blossom either.

With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and the marvelous, early lyrics of a young Stephen Sondheim, “Gypsy” has long been a musical fave and a standard by which so many other shows are judged. So “Gypsy” lite at Stray Dog Theatre has a lot to be proud of in bringing this huge, wonderful cast together and giving us what we want (at least what I want)- more musicals.

Give Stray Dog Theatre a call at 314-865-1995 or contact them at straydogtheatre.org for tickets or more information. But hurry, the show only runs through April 20th and shows are selling out.

Theatre As History Makes For A Powerful Combo As New Jewish Presents “Conviction”

April 6, 2013

 

Ami Dayan as an official at the Spanish National Archives in 1962 Madrid. Photo: John Lamb

Ami Dayan as an official at the Spanish National Archives in 1962 Madrid. Photo: John Lamb

The double meaning- punished for your beliefs and standing by those beliefs- is at the core of “Conviction,” a dynamic one person theatre piece at New Jewish Theatre. Adapted by the Israeli playwright and actor, Ami Dayan, his performance is as compelling as the story he relates.

After a man is caught trying to steal a dossier on a Spanish priest from the 15th century Spanish Inquisition from the Franco-controlled National Archives in 1962, the current “inquisitor” tries to find out what is so important about this file. So we see the true life story unfold on stage of Andres Gonzalez who is really a “converso,” a Jew who has “converted” to Christianity during the Inquisition to protect his life. Although a common practice in the 15th century in Spain, the government still stalked and tried to “out” the Jews who were secretly still practicing their faith.

Ami Dayan as Andres Gonzalez in the New Jewish Theatre production of "Conviction." Photo: John Lamb

Ami Dayan as Andres Gonzalez in the New Jewish Theatre production of “Conviction.” Photo: John Lamb

Actually becoming a priest, Andres eventually falls in love with a Jewish woman, Isabel, who leads him back to his faith which begins a complicated journey of deception and inner turmoil for him. Confiding in a mentor, the story of Andres is taken down and remains in the Spanish National Archives where the story starts in the 1960’s. Leading to an unexpected conclusion, “Conviction” is a powerful 75-minute one-act that becomes a tour de force for Ami Dayan who has performed this piece in many venues and languages throughout the world.

Although normally staged on a more conventional proscenium stage, director Joe Gfaller has reworked it in the round for New Jewish. It is possibly even more dramatic in this form as Mr. Dayan is able to move to designated areas that more effectively impact the story and the myriad of characters involved. Nathan Schroeder’s lighting design and the costumes of Michele Friedman Siler only enhance this complex yet easy to follow story. And Mr. Dayan’s ability to subtly portray many characters without going “over the top” is marvelous to watch.

“Conviction” is a most welcome addition to the New Jewish season and an unexpected surprise. Not only does it cover a moment in history that is not familiar to most, it is powerful drama as well. It’s a short run- only through April 14th- so make plans to see this one as soon as you can.