JCC Announces Fall Theater Arts: Jewish Plays Project Festival, FALLOUT Concert, A STRANGE LOOP Event & More

For its debut at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Tom Gold Dance will present two pieces on October 26.

By: Oct. 13, 2022
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The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan has announced the line-up for fall theater arts programs, happening in-person with the Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas in Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Auditorium and at JCC Harlem.

The line-up of October and November events includes a concert presentation of the world premiere musical Fallout, a Tom Gold Dance performance, a new play festival with Jewish Plays Project, a conversation with a cast and creative member from A Strange Loop, and an Artist Salon with The Workshop.

"I'm thrilled to partner with unique and exciting organizations to highlight work that has been waiting patiently for the world to see," says Jason Blitman, Program Director of the Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas. "Not only do we get to share premiere pieces from Tom Gold Dance, but we'll be the first home for The Workshop's multidisciplinary Artist Salon, showcasing the work of Jews of Color, Indigenous, Sephardi & Mizrahi (JOCISM). We also have two exciting theatrical events: the three playwrights who won Jewish Play Project's National Jewish Playwriting Contest during the pandemic will finally get their NY premieres on our stage, and Ukrainian singer-songwriter Dmitry Koltunov is showcasing a concert of his beautiful new folk-rock musical featuring a stellar lineup of Broadway performers."

For its debut at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Tom Gold Dance will present two pieces on October 26: the first complete, in-person performance of Portraits, and the world premiere of B-shert. Set to chamber music by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů, Portraits was inspired by The Morgan Library & Museum's 2020 retrospective, David Hockney: Drawing from Life. Portraits premiered via live stream in February 2021. In August 2022, Tom Gold Dance Company presented a newer work set to selections from the Gnossiennes for solo piano of Erik Satie. Now, Gold is expanding that piece into B-shert, which will incorporate themes from the Bless: Design for Good exhibition currently on display at The Laurie M. Tisch Gallery.

At JCC Harlem on October 24, Nemuna Ceesay (associate director) and Jason Veasey (original cast member) of Broadway's Tony Award Winning musical A Strange Loop, will join Exploring Black Narratives for a discussion about intersectionality, radical self-acceptance, and belonging. At A Night of Broadway and Belonging: Creating the Musical A Strange Loop, Ceesay and Veasey will talk with Lonnie Firestone, founder and director of Exploring Black Narratives. Nemuna will share how she developed the show for its Broadway run and how her own identity-as Black and Jewish-is similar to and different from the show's lead character, Usher. Jason will share what it was like being in the rehearsal room, and how he created a character that represents "thought."

On October 30, the MMJCCM will present a concert performance of Fallout, a new American musical about family, the importance of community, and the bittersweet trials of the American dream. With a book by David Goldsmith (Motown: The Musical) and directed by Shaun Peknic (associate director, Once), Fallout is inspired by the life of the musical's composer/lyricist, Ukrainian born singer-songwriter and startup founder Dmitry Koltunov.

In the new folk-rock Russian/American musical Fallout, a family of Ukrainian immigrants escapes from the antisemitism of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of Chernobyl to settle in Brighton Beach, New York. There, Yasha, the 20-something, struggles to bring his family together in the wake of his older sister's untimely death. He finds hope and direction in the burgeoning tech world of the early 2000s while coming up against the buried childhood trauma that threatens to upend them all.

Fallout: A New Musical in Concert will be followed by a talkback with the cast and creative team. The cast of the concert performance includes David Benoit (Jekyll & Hyde, Avenue Q), Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast), Vicki Lewis (Anastasia, Chicago), Samantha Massell (Fiddler on the Roof), Kylie Liya Page (Les Misérables), Christina Sajous (Spongebob Squarepants, the Broadway Musical), Ephraim Sykes (Ain't Too Proud, Hamilton), and Ryan Vona (Once, Cirque du Soleil Paramour), with ensemble members Ari Axelrod, Madsie Flynn, Marissa Hecker, and Geoffrey Allen Murphy.

Inaugural fellows of The Workshop, North America's first arts fellowship centering the work of JOCISM (Jews of Color, Jewish-Indigenous, Sephardi, and Mizrahi) artists and culture-makers, will present an evening of works-in-progress at The Workshop's Artist Salon on November 14 at the MMJCCM. The Salon will include a music video presentation, a dance piece, scenes from new plays, and a photography exhibit, that interrogate, dissect, provoke, subvert, and play with the many angles of memory and Jewish collective identity. The Salon will feature work from The Workshop's fellows Avi Amon, Nemuna Ceesay, Bill DeMeritt, Rebecca S'manga Frank, Benji Kahn, Lilach Orenstein, and Daniel Terna.

On November 30 and December 1, in partnership with Jewish Plays Project, the MMJCCM will present a Festival of New Jewish Plays. Since March 2020, three plays have won the Jewish Plays Project's National Jewish Playwriting Contest, but the authors haven't yet received their prize: a trip to New York City with a reading of their brand-new award-winning play. The Festival of New Jewish Plays will feature presentations of 10th Annual Contest Winner Jenny Berman Eng's A Moving Picture, directed by Rebecca S'manga Frank; 11th Annual Contest Winner Alice Eve Cohen's Oklahoma Samovar, directed by Eric Nightengale; and 12th Annual Contest Winner Bess Welden's Madeleines, directed by Annette Jolles.

MMJCCM ARTS + IDEAS 2022 THEATER ARTS LINE-UP

A Night of Broadway and Belonging: Creating the Musical A Strange Loop

Mon, Oct 24, 7:30-8:45 PM
JCC Harlem
Join JCC Harlem and Exploring Black Narratives for a discussion about intersectionality, radical self-acceptance, and belonging with A Strange Loop's Nemuna Ceesay and Jason Veasey, both of whom were instrumental to the development of this Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning production.

In Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop, among the most acclaimed shows to reach Broadway in years, a Disney usher (named Usher), struggling to accept his Big, Black, and Queer self, writes a musical to feel seen in his identity. In conversation with Lonnie Firestone, founder and director of Exploring Black Narratives, we will hear from A Strange Loop's associate director Nemuna Ceesay and original cast member (Thought 5) Jason Veasey.

Nemuna will share how she developed the show for its Broadway run and how her own identity-as Black and Jewish-is similar to and different from the show's lead character, Usher. Jason will share what it was like being in the rehearsal room, and how he created a character that represents "thought." You won't want to miss this special night as we dive into the unique narrative of A Strange Loop that has resonated so deeply with audiences.

Tom Gold Dance Company

Wed, Oct 26, 7:30-9:00 PM
Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
For its debut at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Tom Gold Dance will present two pieces: the first complete, in-person performance of Portraits and the world premiere of B-shert,, both created by company founder and director Tom Gold.

Set to chamber music by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, Portraits was inspired by The Morgan Library & Museum's 2020 retrospective, David Hockney: Drawing from Life. Tom Gold Dance premiered Portraits in February 2021 in a live streamed performance from the Nave of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in NYC.

A newer Gold work, B-Shert, set to selections from the Gnossiennes for solo piano of Erik Satie, premiered this past August. Gold is expanding the work to incorporate themes from the Bless: Design for Good exhibition currently on display at The Laurie M. Tisch Gallery at the JCC.

Fallout: A New Musical in Concert

Sun, Oct 30, 3:00-5:30 PM
Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
In the new folk-rock Russian/American musical Fallout, a family of Ukrainian immigrants escapes from the antisemitism of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of Chernobyl to settle in Brighton Beach, New York. There, Yasha, the 20-something, struggles to bring his family together in the wake of his older sister's untimely death. He finds hope and direction in the burgeoning tech world of the early 2000s while coming up against the buried childhood trauma that threatens to upend them all.

For one night only, the creative team of Fallout, along with a company of actors and musicians from Broadway and beyond, will take us on Yasha's journey in song. With a book by David Goldsmith and directed by Shaun Peknic, Fallout was inspired by the life of the musical's composer/lyricist, Ukrainian born singer-songwriter and startup founder Dmitry Koltunov. As part of the late-20th century wave of Soviet Jewry to the United States, Koltunov, along with his creative team, have crafted a new American musical about family, the importance of community, and the bittersweet trials of the American dream. The concert will be followed by a talkback with the cast and creative team.

The Workshop's Artist Salon

Mon, Nov 14, 7:00-9:00 PM
Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Join the inaugural fellows of The Workshop for an evening of art and culture, as they present works-in-progress that interrogate, dissect, provoke, subvert, and play with the many angles of memory and Jewish collective identity. The event will include a music video presentation, a dance piece, scenes from new plays, and a photography exhibit. Fellows: Avi Amon, Nemuna Ceesay, Bill DeMeritt, Rebecca S'manga Frank, Benji Kahn, Lilach Orenstein, and Daniel Terna

Jewish Plays Project: Festival of New Jewish Plays

Wed, Nov 30 & Thu, Dec 1, various times
Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
Since March 2020, three plays have won the Jewish Plays Project's National Jewish Playwriting Contest, but the authors haven't yet received their prize-a trip to New York City. Join us as JPP relaunches with two days of exceptional readings of these brand new, award-winning plays, featuring the city's best actors, directors, and designers.

10th Annual Contest Winner: A Moving Picture

By Jenny Berman Eng
Directed by Rebecca S'manga Frank
An NYU student's screenplay about a WWII Mercedes Benz labor camp collides with a legendary professor and the dark secret of his Hollywood success.

11th Annual Contest Winner: Oklahoma Samovar

By Alice Eve Cohen
Directed by Eric Nightengale
In 1887, two Latvian teenagers flee the Russian army and become the only Jews in the Oklahoma Land Run. A century later, their daughter reinvents their story, aided by ghosts, blintzes, and strong Russian tea.

12th Annual Contest Winner: Madeleines

By Bess Welden
Directed by Annette Jolles
Spiced with poetry, Yiddish, and Spanish, Madeleines is about a family of Jewish women grappling with how to love each other through shared grief and the solace of baking.


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