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BWW Reviews: Triangle Productions' JEWTOPIA Shows Love and Laughter Cross Cultural Boundaries

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Two old friends run into each other at a Jewish singles group, both hoping to "pick up Jewish girls." The trouble is, one of them has had little luck with women in the past and the other one isn't really Jewish. So they make a deal: Chris, the non-Jewish one (played by Alex Fox), will help Adam, the Jewish one (played by James Sharinghousen), meet women by showing him the wonder that is JDate.com (a real dating website, aka "Jewtopia"). In return, Adam will teach Chris about the culture so he can pretend to be Jewish, marry a Jewish woman, and never have to make another decision.

JEWTOPIA pokes light-hearted fun at Jewish people and the Jewish culture. You don't have to be Jewish to find it funny -- many of the jokes are just about funny people, and all cultures and families have their fair share of those! -- but I'm sure there were still plenty of inside jokes I didn't get. However, the main message of the play is a universal one: that love sees past cultural and religious boundaries.

The show is well cast. Sharinghousen (last seen at Triangle Productions in TICK TICK...BOOM) and Fox have good chemistry, Michelle Maida is fantastic as Marcy Cohen and even better as Arlene Lipschitz, and Jon Quesenberry shines as both a boisterous Rabbi Schlomo and a very sleazy Irving Lipschitz. My heart went out to Michael Rouches as Dennis Lipschitz, so earnestly trying to conduct a Seder dinner in the midst of familial chaos.

On opening night the show felt a little rushed. The program said the running time was approximately 75 minutes, but in reality it was closer to 60, and some of the jokes didn't quite live up to their comedic potential. But I expect that will change as the run progresses. One more minor beef -- a lot of the action at the beginning takes place in front of the stage, with the actors sitting in chairs. While the Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza isn't very big and there isn't a bad seat to watch what happens on the stage, those of us who weren't sitting in the front few rows spent the first several minutes listening to the play while staring at the backs of heads.

Overall, JEWTOPIA is well worth a watch (just sit in front). The show runs at the Sanctuary at Sandy Plaza through April 4.


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