“Golda’s Balcony” At New Jewish Relives Her Strength As She Rose To Power

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Lavonne Byers on the set of “Golda’s Balcony” at New Jewish Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

The 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and the Arab nation brought about tensions that continued and even brought them to the brink of nuclear intervention. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed thanks to their Prime Minister, the first woman to hold that position, Golda Meir. In “Golda’s Balcony” at New Jewish Theatre, Lavonne Byers actually becomes this brave woman as she tells her story of struggle and doubt as she was thrust into a most dangerous and critical position that affected her country and the world at large.

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Henry Kissinger looms in the background during the NJT production of “Golda’s Balcony” with Lavonne Byers. Photo: John Lamb

Fighting the stigma of a woman in power along with the advice from people like Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Dayan and the hesitancy of U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger to provide aid to her country, she had to double down on her resolve to keep Israel safe and avoid nuclear war. “Golda’s Balcony,” by award winning playwright William Gibson, shows her reluctance, her fears and eventually her tenacity that made her one of the most respected leaders in modern history. As she says at one point, “Survival is a synonym for Jewish.”

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Lavonne Byers as Golda Meir in “Golda’s Balcony” at New Jewish Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Lavonne Byers is one of our treasured actresses encompassing a wide range of roles over the years she’s spent on local stages. It is incredible how she morphs into this role and, except for the distinguishing characteristic of Ms. Meir’s rather bulbous nose, she really captures her persona and demeanor. It’s an incredible performance that takes us on an incredible 95 minute journey through stages of her life as well as the incredible guts she displayed in resolving the possibility of one of the worst catastrophes of the modern world.

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Golda Meir (Lavonne Byers) retells a story as she contemplates the outcome of war during “Golda’s Balcony” at New Jewish Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

The various players in the events that occurred during this tempestuous time are all brought to the forefront and we’re treated to a history lesson like no other. Gibson’s superb script keeps you on the edge of your seat as one actress holds your attention and creates suspense with some much needed touches of humor throughout.

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Lavonne Byers as Golda Meir seeking God’s intervention in her struggle during the New Jewish production of “Golda’s Balcony.” Photo: John Lamb

Henry I. Schvey returns to NJT to direct Lavonne Byers and he has molded her into this wonderful force to be reckoned with. He obviously has a powerful grasp on the story and the timeline of the incidents described in the play and he has crafted a riveting production. Helping out is the magnificent set designed by Peter and Margery Spack- powerful beams overshadowing the office space of Golda Meir with the back walls becoming a screen to project the actual photos from the encounters she faced during her tenure.

Kimberly Klearman’s lights also enhance the mood of the production and the costume chosen for Ms. Byers is the work of Michele Friedman Siler. Robin Weatherall also created a powerful sound design for the show.

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Lavonne Byers as Golda Meir in “Golda’s Balcony” at NJT. Photo: John Lamb

Trying to hold on to land acquired during the six day war of 1967, Israel, led by Golda Meir, took a stand and avoided a nuclear war that could have destroyed the area and caused serious repercussions around the globe. See “Golda’s Balcony” at New Jewish Theatre through October 30th. Give them a call at 314-442-3283 for tickets or more information.

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