A season for Jewish plays

Cast members with Theatre Guild’s Lost In Yonkers (L to R): Saverio Perugini, Rachel Wilson, Amy Diederich, Barb Jorgensen, Joel Daniel, Rob Breving

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

This fall, Dayton’s harvest of live theatre yields three Jewish-oriented productions: Neil Simon’s familiar Lost In Yonkers, the rarely performed Abie’s Irish Rose, and the musical Caroline, Or Change.

Richard Brock, director of Abie’s Irish Rose, says he’s tried for years to get a local theatre to green-light the comedy.

“The first time I read it, I just loved it,” he says. “I thought this is one of the funniest plays I have ever read in my life and I’ve been wanting to direct it from the first time I read it. Most people had never heard of it.”

Jon Horwitz rehearses Abie’s Irish Rose at The Dayton Playhouse

Originally panned by critics but a hit with Broadway theatregoers, Abie’s Irish Rose is the story of a Jewish man and his Irish-Catholic girlfriend who marry despite their families’ fierce objections. It ran from May 23, 1922 to Oct. 1, 1927 — the longest-running play on Broadway at that time — was made into a movie in 1928 and 1946, and was an NBC radio series from 1942-44.

Abie’s Irish Rose runs at Dayton Playhouse Oct. 14-23. Tickets are available at 424-8477 or www.thedaytonplayhouse.com.

Fran Pesch directs Dayton Theatre Guild’s production of Simon’s 1991 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, Lost In Yonkers. Set in 1942, it’s about two boys who must temporarily live with their bitter, rigid grandmother and put-upon aunt above the family candy store in Yonkers.

Among the cast members are Rachel Wilson and  Joel Daniel, who played Willy Wonka in this year’s DJCC Children’s Theatre production of Willy Wonka.

Lost in Yonkers runs at The Dayton Theatre Guild from Oct. 21-Nov. 6. Tickets are available at 278-5993 or www.daytontheatreguild.org.

From Nov. 3-20, The Human Race Theatre Company will present the musical Caroline, Or Change, with book and lyrics by Tony Kushner and music by Jeanine Tesori.

Set in a Jewish home in 1963-Louisiana, Caroline focuses on the bond between an African-American divorced maid and the family’s 8-year-old son. Saul Caplan is among the Caroline cast members.

As part of the Cultural Arts and Book Festival, the DJCC will host a performance of Caroline on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. For details, call Karen Steiger at 853-0372.

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