Saturday, May 12, 2012

JACOB AND JACK • New Jewish Theatre

In the final production of NJT's 15th season, actors play double roles and time-travel from the present day to the 1930's in a nifty little backstage romp.  It's always fun watching actors play actors, right?

Jack Shore (Bobby Miller) is an actor who's mostly known for his television commercials.  He's agreed to appear in a staged reading at a benefit for his mother's Ladies Club, that pays tribute to his grandfather Jacob Shemerinsky, a star of the Yiddish theatre.  In addition to not believing in rehearsing, Jack also has an eye for the ladies, and his latest target is a talented young actor named Robin (Julie Layton), also taking part in the reading.  She's so talented that Jack finds himself reconsidering his stance on not memorizing lines.  His flirting ends up pissing off his wife Lisa (Kari Ely), also an actor, also involved in the reading.  Jack, his insecurities, and his ego are placated and tolerated by his manager Ted (Terry Meddows) and they are both checked in on by the show's "gay as a picnic" stage manager Don (Justin Ivan Brown), and occasionally Jack's enthusiastic mom, Esther (Donna Weinsting).  That's the present day situation.

Terry Meddows (Ted), Justin Ivan Brown (Don),
Julie Layton (Robin) and Bobby Miller (Jack).
Photo credit: John Lamb
The actors, past and present, are housed in adjoining dressing rooms, and with a quick opening or closing (or slamming) of a door, we're back in 1935, and Jack's grandfather, Jacob (again, Bobby Miller) is preparing to play to a practically empty house, and considering a film career.  He, like his grandson, has a roving eye, and the object of his advances is a young inexperienced actor named Rachel (Julie Layton) who Jacob has had installed into the show.  This tests his long-suffering wife Leah (Kari Ely) who, like her modern day counter-part Lisa, is tired of having to suffer her husband's infidelity.

This parallel footing happening in different eras is entertaining to watch.  Most everyone comes to some sort or resolve for the most part, but still, this cast is top notch and Edward Coffield's quickly paced direction will keep you delightfully engaged.

Terry Meddows (Abe),  Bobby Miller (Jacob)
and Justin Ivan Brown (Moishe).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Each character is adept at the switching, sometimes almost in mid-sentence.  The main characters -- Bobby Miller as Jack and Jacob, Kari Ely as Lisa and Leah, and Julie Layton as Robin and Rachel are all strong.  Terry Meddows as Ted and Abe, is great to watch, and Justin Ivan Brown as Don and Moishe along with Donna Weinsting's Esther and Hannah are also well-played.

Robert Mark Morgan's scenic design of three adjacent dressing rooms perfectly serves this farce in addition to Kimberly Klearman's lighting design, Matthew Koch's sound design and Michele Friedman Siler's costume design.

It's playing at the New Jewish Theatre until the 20th.  Check it out for some clever performances.


Written by James Sherman
Directed by Edward Coffield
Marvin & Harlene Wool Studio, 2 Millstone Campus Drive Creve Coeur
through May 20 | tickets: $35.50 - $39.50
Performances Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm & 7:30pm

Bobby Miller * (Jack Shore/Jacob Shemerinsky), Terry Meddows (Ted/Abe), Kari Ely * (Lisa/Leah), Donna Weinsting (Esther/Hannah), Julie Layton (Robin/Rachel) and Justin Ivan Brown (Don/Moishe).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Scenic design by Robert Mark Morgan; costume design by Michele Friedman Siler; lighting design by Kimberly Klearman; sound design by Matthew Koch, stage manager, Kate Koch.

No comments:

Post a Comment