HANDLE WITH CARE, A Cross-Cultural Romantic Comedy is Coming to Florida Studio Theatre's Keating Theatre

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HANDLE WITH CARE, A Cross-Cultural Romantic Comedy is Coming to Florida Studio Theatre's Keating Theatre

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) presents Handle With Care by Emmy Nominee Jason Odell Williams, with Hebrew written by Charlotte Cohn, a delightfully fresh holiday comedy. Called "Hilarious and heartwarming" by The New York Times, Handle With Care brings two utterly different people together on Christmas Eve under the most tragic and absurd of circumstances. A New York Times Critics Pick, Handle With Care will run in FST's Keating Theatre starting December 11.

Handle with Care is part of a four-show subscription package. Also included in the Mainstage subscription package is the shining Broadway musical Bright Star, the gripping new play American Son, and The Legend of Georgia McBride, a musical comedy written by the Obie Award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez. Subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69 at (941) 366-9000 or floridastudiotheatre.org.

In Handle With Care, Ayelet, a young Israeli woman, reluctantly travels with her grandmother, Edna, to the United States. When something unexpected happens during their trip, Ayelet is left stranded in a Virginia motel room on Christmas Eve with Terrence, a bumbling, yet well-intentioned, delivery man. She doesn't know much English and he doesn't know any Hebrew at all. So Terrence calls on his friend Josh, the only Jewish person he knows, to serve as an interpreter. The problem is that Josh only remembers a few Hebrew phrases that he learned for his bar mitzvah almost 20 years ago. Still, Josh and Ayelet manage to establish a strong relationship.

"I was struck by the simplicity of connection between two people who spend an entire play together and form a bond even though they do not speak the same language," said FST's Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. "It is a testament to intuition and feeling as guides to the deepest of human connection."

Called "The perfect non Christmas 'Christmas' show" by the Lost Angeles Daily News, Handle with Care integrates elements of Judaism in its exploration of universal, secular themes like destiny and family ties. "I appreciate how Jason [the playwright] has woven Jewish ideas and traditions together with Christmas-y themes," shared Jason Cannon, FST Associate Artist and Director of Handle With Care. "The play reminds us that family matters. That friends matter. And that love and connection matter. It reminds us that we can make a difference in the lives of the people we care about."

Bringing this charming comedy to life are Anat Cogan (FST Debut), Mat Leonard (FST Debut), Marina Re, and Michael Zlabinger. Cogan plays Hebrew-speaking Ayelet in Handle with Care. She is an American Israeli actress and singer who has played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Elmire in Tartuffe, and Donia Rosita in Donia Rosita the Spinster. Leonard, who plays Terrence in this regional theatre favorite, was featured in Shakespeare & Company's productions of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike as Spike and Julius Caesar as Octavius.

Marina Re, who previously starred in FST's productions of God of Isaac, Last Romance, and Boleros for the Disenchanted, plays Ayelet's grandmother, Edna, in this holiday comedy. Re has worked Off-Broadway, on national tours, and at regional theatres across the country for 40 years. Zlabinger plays Josh in Handle With Care, and was last seen in FST's production of The Columnist. He starred in the Off-Broadway productions of Desperate Writers (Union Square Theatre), The Subtle Body (59E59), and Like Money in The Bank (Theatre Row).

Handle With Care is the second production of FST's 46th Winter Mainstage Season, and begins December 11 in FST's Keating Theatre. Single tickets for Handle With Care and subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69 at (941) 366-9000 or at floridastudiotheatre.org.

Known as Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Artist, Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman's Club building - now renamed the Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Goldstein Cabaret, the renovated Gompertz Theatre, the John C. Court Cabaret and Bowne's Lab Theatre.

Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. Under Producing Artistic Director and CEO, Richard Hopkins, FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.

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