Archive for December, 2013

2013 Year In Review (Tongue-In-Cheek Edition, Volume 2)

December 27, 2013

Scan 123590003Last year I started this “year in review” format instead of a “best of” just to highlight some of my remembrances and oddities during the past year in theatre in St. Louis. And I’d like to start off with a bit of chest-thumping of my own- just before Christmas I reached the quarter-million mark for visits to my Stage Door St. Louis blog. Not monumental when you think of what Miley Cyrus and others have achieved in less than a half-hour, but I’m proud and honored that there are some folks out there reading- whether or not you agree with my thoughts (and always feel free to comment on the reviews and other posts- we welcome feedback as well as merely “browsing.”) I particularly like that so many have joined the link and receive notice on their email when a new review goes up on the blog. So let’s get down to some nitty and some gritty.

ONE TWO MANY: Don’t correct my grammar just yet. I noticed that a lot of one-person and two-person shows were performed this year. The many? Well, there’s always a lot of shows with many in the cast but there were some that performed like well-oiled machines- each cog meshing to bring us stage magic.

Shanara Gabrielle as Hannah Senesh.

Shanara Gabrielle as Hannah Senesh.

Onesies: Jerry Vogel entertained us with “An Iliad” at Upstream while Shanara Gabrielle did the same as “Hannah Senesh” at New Jewish. And, staying with New Jewish, how about “Conviction” with Ami Dayan writing and performing this powerful story? G. P. Hunsaker dazzled some Shel Silverstein solo work at R-S Theatrics and and Mustard Seed brought us a moving story written and performed by the vibrant young lady, Elizabeth Van Meter, who lived it and wrote about it when she visited Viet Nam to tell the “Purpose Project: Thao’s Library.” In a remarkable evening of theatre, St. Louis Actor’s Studio brought us “Talking Heads”- three stories of loneliness and coping with life in soliloquies  by three great St. Louis actors, Glynis Bell, Alan Knoll and Elizabeth Ann Townsend. Then, in a “split decision,” Mustard Seed brought us Christopher Durang’s “Mrs. Sorken” as portrayed by Peggy Billo and…

Twosies: …David Mamet’s “Duck Variations” with Richard Lewis and Bobby Miller (must have been Mamet’s only G- maybe PG-rated script). St. Louis Actor’s Studio shined again with Reginald Pierre and Chauncey Thomas wowing us in “Topdog/Underdog.” The Rep brought us two two-actor plays with “Venus In Fur” featuring Sarah Nedwek and Jay Stratton and then “Freud’s Last Session” with Barry Mulholland and Jim Butz. How about two great actors- Bobby Miller and Aaron Orion Baker teaming up to bring us the tear-jerker, “Tuesdays With Morrie” at Dramatic License? Max and Louie entered the mix of two-timing on stage with the delicious little comedy, Mrs. Mannerly, featuring Donna Weinsting and Charlie Ingram. “New kid on the block,” Theatre Lab, gave us a great opening to what should be an outstanding new group when they presented “Sunset Limited” with Robert A. Mitchell and Zachary Allen Farmer.

Joneal Joplin as the Stage Manager at Insight's "Our Town."

Joneal Joplin as the Stage Manager at Insight’s “Our Town.”

Many’s: As I said, most plays have a larger cast but when they run as smoothly as if the were all of one mind, it’s a thing of beauty. We had several examples this year and this is just a short list of what I considered met that criteria (there were many others, of course). Mustard Seed’s moving, acapella war epic, “All Is Calm.” Two from Insight came through including “Our Town” and “1776.” The suspense and zany characters of the Rep’s “The Mousetrap” also worked brilliantly as did the surprisingly deft little comedy at HotCity, “Kosher Lutherans.” Also earning “ensemble” kudos are “The Cherry Sisters Revisited” and “Parade” at R-S Theatrics, “Waiting For Godot” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio, “Fly” at the Rep Mainstage and “Opus” at West End Players Guild. Once again, let me repeat that these aren’t the only “well-oiled” productions seen this year- just a quick sample of how it’s done and (before the angry cards and letters pour in) these may not have been the only one-person or two-person shows performed this year- just highlights of my recollections.

BIGGEST CURTAIN CALL SURPRISE OF THE YEAR: At the end of the opening night of “Spamalot” at the Muny- after some technical delays held the curtain and a mostly flawless production followed, Monty Python’s own Eric Idle sauntered onto the stage to join the cast (and audience) of another reprise of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.” It was evidently the first open air theatre production of “Spamalot” and the largest one-night audience as well. So he flew to St. Louis to join in the festivities.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A DRUNKEN, DESPICABLE LEADING MAN: Zachary Allen Farmer as Charles Bukowski in New Line’s production of “Bukowsical.” (Hey, he’s really a very nice guy!)

BEST ON STAGE WORKOUT: Shanara Gabrielle as “Hannah Senesh” at New Jewish Theatre. She goes through a series of jumping jacks, push-ups and several other exercises during a not-too-short span on stage. The “theatre seat potatoes” of us in the audience were feeling just a tad guilty (and winded!).

Rachel Hanks, Amanda Swearingen and Michelle Hand in OnSite's "There's A Gun In Your Goodbye Bag" staged in a laundromat.

Rachel Hanks, Amanda Swearingen and Michelle Hand in OnSite’s “There’s A Gun In Your Goodbye Bag” staged in a laundromat.

BEST NON-THEATRE SITES FOR ONSITE: This year the enterprising troupe at OnSite Theatre took us to a laundromat while drama unfolded among those actually folding clothes as they really used the laundromat. The audience sat on washers, dryers or the odd chair but the folders soon joined us in watching what happened during “There’s A Gun In Your Goodbye Bag.” Next stop: church trivia night at a local church hall as our intrepid actors plotted a robbery at a local credit union while we, the audience, played trivia. The trivia game was a ruse to cover their tracks and establish an alibi while pulling off the heist. Clever stuff and a fun night of trivia as well.

The cast of "The Lyons" at Max & Louie Productions.

The cast of “The Lyons” at Max & Louie Productions.

TWO PIECES OF SILVER: Judas wouldn’t have been happy with such a paltry sum, but we enjoyed two Nicky Silver plays this year on local stages as Max and Louie brought us “The Lyons” and St. Louis Actors’ Studio presented “Pterodactyls.” Two unmistakable Silver plays filled with plenty of laughs and pathos.

LONGEST TITLE OF THE YEAR: Stray Dog Theatre takes home the honors with “The Butterfingers Angel, Mary And Joseph, Herod The Nut And The Slaughter Of 12 Hit Carols In A Pear Tree.”

HALLOWEEN III (IV IF YOU COUNT JULY): The witching hours were in full force with New Lines powerful “Night Of The Living Dead: The Musical,” Stray Dog’s return of “Evil Dead: The Musical” and Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble bringing us “The Woman In Black.” But Stray Dog also gave us an early Halloween in July/August with a scary (but funny) production of “Little Shop Of Horrors.”

EVENTS THAT MUST GO ON FOREVER: The second annual LaBute New Theatre Festival happened over the summer at St. Louis Actors’ Studio with Mr. Neil LaBute in attendance and offering one of his original one-acts in the mix. Other new plays by new and established yet aspiring playwrights were brought to us over two weeks. In addition, there were stage readings of high school finalists who had submitted original one-acts. It’s coming back again next summer so make plans now to attend as this has become a popular series.                                                                                                                                                                                                          theatrelablogoRyan Foizey and his new Theatre Lab troupe also came up with a new- hopefully recurring event- the 24 Hour Play Festival. Five playwrights were given a theme, number of people in their cast and a random line that must appear in their play and then seven days to write a script. Then directors and cast were randomly chosen and they had twenty-four hours to put it on stage. The results were magnificent and remarkably polished. Of course, everyone involved probably crashed for the NEXT twenty-four hours, but what a delightful and fun night they gave us.

There was so much more in 2013 in St. Louis theatre but you’ve got to see for yourself. Get out there- see a play then see one the next week and the week after. Pretty soon you’ll see why the local theatre scene is just irresistible.

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HotCity Offers Another Holiday Treat With “Kosher Lutherans”

December 15, 2013
The couples react to shocking news at the end of "Kosher Lutherans" at HotCity Theatre.

The couples react to shocking news at the end of “Kosher Lutherans” at HotCity Theatre.

We’ve seen quite a few holiday-themed shows this season on local stages and this unusual entry at HotCity is a delightful little comedy that has a lesson in tolerance for us all. “Kosher Lutherans” is buoyed by a wonderful cast and offers a surprising twist that tests the prejudices we all harbor inside and how we overcome them. Director Marty Stanberry keeps it moving at a good clip with plenty of laughs along the way.

Richard Strelinger and Julie Layton play Franklyn and Hannah, a couple who have been trying to have a child with no success. Despite working with a renowned fertility doctor- recommended by their best friends- they have been frustrated for months. They are about to celebrate Purim with those friends, Ben and Martha, played with perfection by Jerry Russo and Nicole Angeli. Although convinced they’ve remained friends only because their names are “Ben” and “Franklyn,” the guys have been besties since college and the girls have also had a long relationship. But on this holy day in Van Nuys, California, secrets are revealed that threaten the friendships. Ben and Martha are openly fighting and he threatens her with divorce. In the meantime, Franklyn and Hannah’s frustration comes to a boiling point surrounded by a possible relationship he’s had with his night school professor. Leaving his job with his wife’s father’s company, Franklyn has decided to write a novel and the female instructor may- or may not- have made advances to him.

Julie Layton and Beth Wickenhauser in the HotCity production of "Kosher Lutherans."

Julie Layton and Beth Wickenhauser in the HotCity production of “Kosher Lutherans.”

The first act is filled with both angst and outright laughter as the school chums and banter like old buddies while these two events affecting their lives keep cropping up to provoke an edge to the festivities. Then, in Act II, we meet Alison, a sheepish Midwestern girl who is pursuing a degree at a local college. She has become pregnant and decides to give up her baby to Franklyn and Hannah. As they meet to sign the papers to complete the deal, they suddenly realize that she doesn’t know they’re Jewish. Could this be a deal breaker to the girl who admits the only she knows about Jews is what her father told her- “they own Hollywood and they killed Christ?” This causes a flurry of activity that involves our couple deciding- unsuccessfully- to pretend to be Lutheran to appeal to her heartland sensitivities.” Beth Wickenhauser completes this outstanding cast with a wide-eyed, innocent portrayal and, when she finally decides to agree, levels a bombshell of her own. A final scene with the two couples reunited for the First Night of Hanukah brings two final twists that complete an outrageous but satisfying journey into how people react when tested to the limits.

The clever William Missouri Downs script is perfect for the season and this cast simply shines while bringing laughs and smiles to this sometimes harsh but extremely heart-warming story. The effective scene design by David Blake is versatile and realistic while Maureen Berry’s lights enhance the story as well. Felia Davenport’s costumes are just perfect and, on the night I saw the production, we were once again reminded of the magic of live theatre. A slight technical glitch with a doorbell with a mind of its own didn’t phase the cast at all and the audience was too wrapped up in the proceedings to even notice.

It’s such a treat to see the outstanding work done by all of our local theaters and HotCity’s latest is no exception. Catch the fun and heart of “Kosher Lutherans” through December 21st at the Kranzberg Center. Give them a call at 314-289-4063 or visit hotcitytheatre.org for tickets or more information.

Stray Dog Theatre Brings A New Twist To The Nativity With (Perhaps) The Longest Title Ever

December 10, 2013
Joseph, a very humanized donkey and Mary along with other citizens of Bethlehem, follow the star in the East in Stray Dog's "The Butterfingers Angel..." Photo: John Lamb

Joseph, a very humanized donkey and Mary along with other citizens of Bethlehem, follow the star in the East in Stray Dog’s “The Butterfingers Angel…” Photo: John Lamb

Maybe the full title of “Marat/Sade” wins but “A Funny Thing…Forum” probably comes in third to Stray Dog’s holiday show, “The Butterfingers Angel, Mary & Joseph, Herod The Nut And The Slaughter Of 12 Hit Carols In A Pear Tree” for the longest title in theatre history. Devised by, of all people, William Gibson of “The Miracle Worker” fame, this was originally a pageant for Christmas written for his church. Now Stray Dog takes it on as a nice alternative to the myriad of holiday shows that have become more common this time of year. Unusual perhaps but it takes a more human approach to this familiar story.

First of all, wouldn’t Joseph be a little more upset and less gullible when Mary hands him the news that she’s pregnant via a “virgin” birth? What about Mary? Seeing the other ladies in her village and their struggles with the youngsters, couldn’t she be a little more reluctant to having this baby even knowing it’s The Savior? Well these, and many more questions are asked as we travel to Bethlehem with this duo along with inanimate objects and animals taking on human qualities. Throw in a less than remarkable Angel Gabriel who is treating it all like a Cecil B. DeMille production and you’ve got the makings of a very, very non-traditional Christmas story.

A fur-barked tree, a Butterfingers Angel, Joseph, his donkey and Mary are among the cast of characters in this wacky Christmas story at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

A fur-barked tree, a Butterfingers Angel, Joseph, his donkey and Mary are among the cast of characters in this wacky Christmas story at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Stray Dog Theatre’s Artistic Director, Gary F. Bell, has tackled this unusual script with vigor , tongue firmly planted in cheek and the realization that this version may be closer to the truth. Playing the title character (at least the first name in the title) is Joseph Corey Henke as the Butterfingers Angel who has trouble handling more than one thing in his hands at a time- a serious case of “dropsy.” He delivers the news to Mary and then begins to worry when things don’t always go according to the massive script he’s toting around with him. As Mary, Colleen M. Backer delivers her lines with a droll, off-hand style that just adds to a personality closer to a stand up comedian than the Mother Of Our Lord. It’s a delightful performance that mixes sincerity with an insincerity in just the proper levels that make the lady as lovable as she is hilarious.

Three "not-so Wise Men" can't find their way on the map (just follow that star, guys) in "The Butterfingers Angel..." at Stray Dog. Photo: John Lamb

Three “not-so Wise Men” can’t find their way on the map (just follow that star, guys) in “The Butterfingers Angel…” at Stray Dog. Photo: John Lamb

Stephen Peirick is just as effective as the somewhat reluctant Joseph. Never fully trusting the outrageous story of how she got pregnant, he even accuses the “annunciating” angel of being the father- a fact that appalls angel and audience alike. John Reidy tackles several roles including Herod (in this version he’s given the additional moniker of “The Nut”). It’s easy to see why as he’s a drum aficionado who prefers the “skins” to be real, human skin. Another stand-out in the cast is the hilarious interpretation by Alyssa Ward as a tree. Not only a tree who talks, but one who prefers to be dressed in a “bark” of real fur and apparently can decide to be a pear tree, cherry tree, fully blossomed or barren at the drop of a limb.

Sarajane Alverson and Ashley D. Alcamo are two women of the town who sympathize with Mary and provide some divine singing of the 12 Carols in the title with able assistance from the rest of the cast. A mix of children and adults round out the large cast playing roustabouts, Wise Men, denizens of the towns and various animals with very human qualities as this most holy of stories unfolds with very profane yet hilarious results. On the outskirts of it all is Adam Rugo as a wandering minstrel.

The Matthew Stuckel set design is spare but effective providing several playing areas and enhanced by Tyler Duenow’s lights. A blend of hippie chic and just outlandish outfits that don’t always fit the time but fit the characters are an inspiration by costume designer Alexandra Scibetta Quigley. It’s all well-paced madness and chaos that doesn’t quite fit the mold of everyone’s ideal picture of Christmas, but certainly gives us a viable choice in that more realistic alternative universe.

“The Butterfingers Angel…etc., etc.” plays through December 21st at Stray Dog Theatre. Call them at 314-865-1995 for tickets or more information. Put the “daze” back in your holidays.

“The Mousetrap” Keeps The Audience Guessing At The Rep’s Holiday Show

December 8, 2013
Christian Pedersen as Sergeant Trotter circles some of the guests for questioning during "The Mousetrap" at the Rep. Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Christian Pedersen as Sergeant Trotter circles some of the guests for questioning during “The Mousetrap” at the Rep. Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

It was a dark and stormy night- both outside with snow falling on the streets of St. Louis and inside where snow is hindering the guests who are gathering at Monkswell Manor- now a bed and breakfast in the English countryside. It’s the classic murder mystery, “The Mousetrap,” by the grande dame of mystery, Agatha Christie. I’m sure this clever show has played in our area before but this was my first time seeing it on stage. It’s loads of fun with quirky characters, loads of red herrings and a constant, low buzz in the audience (particularly in the second act) as some “ah-ha” moments seemed to prove some folks wrong- or were they? A perfect holiday show at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis- hey, if it can’t be a musical, I’m fine with this delicious, intriguing cat and mouse story.

Sean Mellott as Christopher Wren arrives at Monkswell Manor and is greeted by Ellen Adair as Mollie. Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Sean Mellott as Christopher Wren arrives at Monkswell Manor and is greeted by Ellen Adair as Mollie. Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Superb direction by Paul Mason Barnes (winner in many categories at last year’s St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards for “A Comedy Of Errors” at the Rep) helps move this suspenseful play through exposition and into surprise after surprise as we try to discover if the local killer who has strangled several women is among the guests as they arrive at the B&B which now has them all trapped due to the snowstorm. Mollie and Giles Ralston inherited the manse and decided to convert it instead of selling it. Little skilled in the running of such an establishment, they soon find themselves in over their heads with lack of preparation and then this whole murder thing which has all of the guests either jumpy or ecstatic (even more conducive to red herrings). Ellen Adair is simply wonderful as the bewildered wife, Mollie, who tries to make the best of a bad situation. As her husband, William Connell also shines and, of course, during the evening, they both look guilty at one time or another.

Larry Paulsen as Mr. Paravicini discusses matters with Ellen Adair in the Rep's "The Mousetrap." Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Larry Paulsen as Mr. Paravicini discusses matters with Ellen Adair in the Rep’s “The Mousetrap.” Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

The first guest to arrive is Christopher Wren, whose parents named him hoping he’d grow up to be an architect- and that’s exactly what happened. It seems his appearance brought the Christmas “fruitcake” on the scene a bit early. Sean Mellott gives him a manic performance with telling dialogue and actions with a propensity of non-sequiters. The wonderful Darrie Lawrence arrives next in the role of Mrs. Boyle. Particularly critical of the way the establishment is run, she can’t seem to get along with anyone.

Major Metcalf arrives and Michael James Reed brings a proper stuffiness to the role as he seems to play casual observer to the actions of the hyper-guests bouncing around him. Finally we get Miss Casewell, played with a demure, reserved quality by Tarah Flanagan. But does her cool demeanor hide more sinister thoughts? Then we get an unexpected guest who claims his Rolls-Royce had run off the road into a snowbank. Larry Paulsen plays Mr. Paravicini with an odd mix of creepiness and bursts of gleeful laughter. Add to the guests Christian Pedersen as Detective Sergeant Trotter who enters to make sure all of the guests are who they say they are as he informs the household of the maniacal killer who may have decided to use the manor as a cover for his nefarious deeds.

Christian Pedersen as Sgt. Trotter grills Tarach Flanagan's Miss Casewell in "The Mousetrap." Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Christian Pedersen as Sgt. Trotter grills Tarach Flanagan’s Miss Casewell in “The Mousetrap.” Photo provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

John Ezell has set the perfect mood with his eerie and foreboding interpretation of the Great Hall at Monkswell Manor. Peter E. Sargent’s lights add to the mood and Dorothy Marshall Englis has provided just the perfect costume plot to go along with the intriguing  mystery plot. Rusty Wandall brings his special touch to the proceedings as well with excellent sound effects including the chilling announcements from the radio about the killer as the play begins.

At intermission, like everyone else, we discussed the myriad of possibilities about the killer on stage. Recalling some of our other favorite Agatha Christie plots in her great books, we decided it will never be who any of us thinks. Her interesting twists in books like “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” “13 At Dinner,” “Murder On The Orient Express” and so many others have taught us all one thing for sure- you can never count anyone out as the murderer in a Christie novel (or play). We defy you to guess the final, few exciting minutes.

Congrats to Director Paul Mason Barnes, Steve Woolf and the rest of the “usual suspects” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis for bringing us a perfectly delightful holiday treat. “The Mousetrap” plays at the Rep through  December 29th. Give them a call at 314-968-4925 or visit repstl.org for tickets or more information.

It Takes Two- The Courage of Hannah Senesh Combined With The Power Of Shanara Gabrielle At New Jewish Theatre

December 6, 2013
Shanara Gabrielle as a young Hannah Senesh writing in her diary. Photo: John Lamb

Shanara Gabrielle as a young Hannah Senesh writing in her diary. Photo: John Lamb

Actress Shanara Gabrielle has long been a favorite in our area but the title character in “Hannah Senesh” brings her to lofty heights as this moving performance is one that none of us will soon forget. She is remarkable in telling (acting out) the story of this Jewish girl from Budapest who, during the coming Nazi occupation, never gives up her faith and eventually decides not to give up her homeland no matter what the risk. New Jewish Theatre has come up big time with this heart wrenching story and this actress who brings a youthful exuberance to a girl who grows into a courageous young woman.

The audience unfamiliar with the story of Hannah Senesh gets a head start as they walk into the theatre and see a grave marker planted upstage center with her name and the dates 1921-1944. We first meet Hannah’s mother, Catherine, also played by Shanara Gabrielle. It is 1944 and a German officer comes to her home to take her to a prison. Asking if she knows where her son and daughter are, Catherine responds truthfully that her daughter is in Israel working on a kibbutz and studying agriculture. He then escorts her to a prison where she is shown a dingy, casement window in which she sees someone she believes is her daughter, waving a make-shift Hungarian flag, trying to get her attention.

Shanara Gabrielle in "Hannah Senesh" at New Jewish Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Shanara Gabrielle in “Hannah Senesh” at New Jewish Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

The scene quickly shifts back to 1934 where we see an energetic young Hannah worrying about school, boys but revealing that special something that makes you realize this a very unusual young lady. As she awkwardly attends a party where she knows no one, she thinks her life will be a solitary one. Her thirst for life and knowledge lead her to the Jewish Zionist movement which upholds their life and religion as so many are converting to Christianity in fear of religious persecution and for their lives. In 1939 she applies to and is accepted to the Agricultural School for Young Women in Palestine where, after graduation, she becomes a member of the Kibbutz Sedot Yam where she winds up cleaning chicken coops and doing laundry for her fellow classmates while studying and praying with her fellow Zionists.

All this time she is writing daily in her diary and composing poetry. We learn life lessons from her work and from her studies- in particular a telling segment where she learns that root cells produce what becomes the beautiful and beneficial plants while they simply die away after they’ve done their job. Comparing it to pioneers who blaze the trails that lead others to their own personal “promised land,” we get an idea of how her life is affected by her studies. Her poetry is also an indicator of how insightful and wise she is at such a tender age- in particular when she composes “Eli, Eli” which ends with the telling words, “the voice called, and I went. I went, because the voice called.” Then the war escalates and she makes a decision to somehow get back to her mother and her homeland- knowing how dangerous this can be.

She joins a British parachute troop that plans to drop into Yugoslavia. From there she feels she can cross the border into Hungary and be reunited with her mother. After capture by a German guard, played by Jimmy Betts, we eventually see her side of the jail cell as she discovers her mother outside the basement window and tears the makeshift Hungarian flag from under her skirt and waves it wildly to get her attention. The inevitable mock trial is held where she is found guilty of, ironically, crimes against the Hungarian people and is set for execution. All ending at the tender age of 23.

Hannah Senesh (Shanara Gabrielle) as she parachutes into Yugoslavia in the NJT production. Photo: John Lamb

Hannah Senesh (Shanara Gabrielle) as she parachutes into Yugoslavia in the NJT production. Photo: John Lamb

The story by playwright David Schechter, in collaboration with Lori Wilner, is so tremendously powerful that you’re in awe of the story and the brilliance of Shanara Gabrielle brings it all so brilliantly to life. Director Kat Singleton brings every ounce of the visceral story to the stage and the music, composed by various composers- mostly to Hannah’s poetry- adds to the strength of the script. In addition, it’s a beautiful show technically. Peter and Margery Spack have designed a unique set that includes a desk used by both Hannah and her mother, an area that doubles for many sites including the prison windows, a field where Hannah parachutes into off course from her fellow jumpers and various sites in her Israeli adventures. They also have covered the back walls with material- including center stage where projections are shown- and then hung various pieces of material from the ceiling in curving and concentric patterns that react to the wonderful Seth Jackson lighting design. Zoe Sullivan’s sound and Michele Friedman Siler’s costumes complete the magic. A special nod to Noemi Neidorff who consulted on the language and sharing her families stories from Budapest during the time period of the play.

The short but remarkable life of Hannah Senesh is portrayed in stunning fashion by Shanara Gabrielle in the New Jewish Theatre production. “Hannah Senesh” runs through December 22nd- call them at 314-442-3283 for tickets or more information.