Theater J Has Announced Their 2020/2021 Season
Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr and Managing Director Jojo Ruf have announced Theater J's 30th anniversary season of five plays and two musicals. The nation's largest and most prominent Jewish theater company, Theater J celebrates its anniversary with a season that features all the elements that have become signature to its work: stories that illuminate the Jewish condition, joyfully celebrate humanity, and challenge us to empathize and think more deeply about the world.
The season kicks off with a special one-week return engagement of The Kinsey Sicks in Electile Dysfunction, updated for the 2020 election season. In its 2012 engagement at Theater J, The Washington Post wrote: "The songs are marvels...it's a hoot...clever and jubilantly performed." Next is Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy, directed by Joe Calarco, who reimagines Miller's gripping Holocaust masterpiece with a cast of only eight actors. During the holiday season, Theater J offers the heart-warming Tuesdays with Morrie, based on Mitch Albom's best-selling memoir. Michael Willis plays Morrie and Jenna Duncan directs. 2021 starts with the DC debut of the edgy klezmer musical Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, starring the much-lauded performer Ben Caplan, who delighted audiences in Canada, Europe, and Off Broadway.
The fifth show of the season is Nathan the Wise, produced in association with Folger Theatre. Michael Bloom's new adaptation of the Gotthold Lessing's 18th-century play invokes a 12th-century Jerusalem with incredible resonances for 2020 America. It is directed by Adam Immerwahr and stars Mitchell Hébert as Nathan. Spring 2021 sees the second full production of Theater J's Yiddish Theater Lab, the world premiere of The Red Beads by Rinne Groff, directed by Johanna Gruenhut. Groff's Compulsion or the House Behind is included in Theater J's 19/20 season (playing this June). The Red Beads is a beautiful fable of love, inspired by the Yiddish classic The Singer of His Sorrows. The season closes with Anna Deavere Smith's Fires in the Mirror, a co-production with Atlanta's Theatrical Outfit, directed by Adam Immerwahr, and starring Atlanta actor January LaVoy, who takes on the tour-de-force performance of 29 monologues in voices from the Black and Hasidic communities in Crown Heights.
"Our 30th Anniversary Season is ambitious, timely, affecting, and quintessential Theater J," says Immerwahr. "From Arthur Miller's rarely seen masterpiece Incident at Vichy, to the powerful and touching story Tuesdays with Morrie (based on the best-selling memoir), to Anna Deavere Smith's groundbreaking documentary play Fires in the Mirror about the Crown Heights riots. It's a season full of extraordinary journeys, exalting and exploring the human experience in all its glory and its foibles, across continents and centuries."
"Over the past three decades, Theater J has been creating moving, funny, smart, provocative productions," adds Ruf. "We have premiered important, timely new plays alongside rediscovered masterpieces from the US and Yiddish theater cannons. We are delighted to celebrate and build upon that tradition with a 30th Anniversary Season with inventive world premieres alongside treasured classics, plays and musicals that will excite, challenge, and inspire our audiences."
Theater J's 2020-2021 Season
The Kinsey Sicks in
September 9 - 13, 2020
The Kinsey Sicks are back! Full of their signature panache and perfect harmonies, these over-the-top a capella drag queens are running for President and their campaign promises to be filthy fun. The gals take (a)back America by out-pandering, out-conspiracy theorizing, and out-outlandishing their political rivals with sharp-witted songs and biting parodies delivered in glorious four-part harmony. Don't miss America's Favorite Dragapella© Beautyshop Quartet in their triumphant return to Theater J.
INCIDENT AT VICHY
Arthur Miller's rarely-seen masterpiece is a dazzling gut-punch of a drama. In Vichy France in 1942, a group of men and a boy are seized by the collaborationist authorities and held in a makeshift police station. Some of them are Jews. All of them have something to hide. As each man is removed for interrogation, some are set free, some are never heard from again, and the stakes rise for all who remain. Director Joe Calarco deftly reimagines "one of the most important plays of our time" (The New York Times) for a taut ensemble of eight transformational actors, including John Austin, Jonathan Feuer, Billy Finn, Vincent Kempski, Michael Russotto, Nathan Whitmer, John Leslie Wolfe, and Gregory Wooddell.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE
Based on the book by Mitch Albom
Directed by Jenna Duncan
December 2 - 27, 2020
Based on the best-selling memoir, Tuesdays With Morrie is the powerful and touching story of Mitch Albom, a hard-driving journalist, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Directed by Jenna Duncan in her Theater J debut, the poignant play tells the story of the two men reuniting as Morrie faces his own mortality as an ALS patient. What starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a master class in humanity, compassion, and friendship. Starring Michael Willis.
OLD STOCK: A REFUGEE LOVE STORY
Sex, religion, tragedy, and triumph--Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story has it all! A hilarious and edgy love story interwoven with a high-energy Klezmer concert, this unique music-theater hybrid is inspired by the true tale of two Jewish Romanian refugees finding love after arriving on the shores of Canada in 1908. Featuring a not-to-be-missed performance by genre-bending sensation Ben Caplan, Old Stock has been wildly popular with audiences and critics alike across Canada, Great Britain, and in New York.
NATHAN THE WISE
By Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Adapted by Michael Bloom
Directed by Adam Immerwahr
Produced in association with Folger Theatre
February 17 - March 24, 2021
In 12th century Jerusalem Jews, Christians, and Muslims live beside one another in peace-or so they hope. As tensions rise, the ruling sultan asks the question: "which religion is the one most beloved by G-d?" Lives, and the future of Jerusalem itself, are on the line as the brilliant Jewish merchant Nathan tries to find the answer. This 18th century Shakespearean play abounds with mistaken identities, foiled romances, and families and friendships across cultural and religious divides. Michael Bloom's moving and humorous new adaptation celebrates the common humanity that unites us all. Starring Mitchell Hébert.
THE RED BEADS
By Rinne Groff
Based on The Singer of His Sorrows by Osip Dymov
A charming, comical, and stirring fable, drawn from one of the great stories of the Yiddish Theater. When a father's bedtime story magically comes to life, his young daughter is plunged into the world of a poor shtetl poet, desperately in love with a woman who spurns him. With great wit and even greater heart, The Red Beads explores the beauty - and the pain - of letting love triumph over logic. Based on a beloved Yiddish classic, The Red Beads is a world premiere adaptation, and the second full production of Theater J's signature Yiddish Theater Lab. Starring Regina Aquino, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Billy Finn, Naomi Jacobson, Jefferson Russell, and Todd Scofield.
FIRES IN THE MIRRORAnna Deavere Smith's groundbreaking documentary play uses verbatim testimony from throughout the Jewish and African American communities, creating a visionary amalgam. This stunning theatrical event-offered in the 30th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots-promises a tour-de-force solo performance and a story which touches upon every American regardless of race, color, or beliefs. Starring January LaVoy.
PURCHASING TICKETS: Subscription ticket packages go on sale February 25. Single tickets go on sale July 15. Please call our box office at 202-777-3210 or visit www.theaterj.org
For discounts for groups of 10+ call (202) 777-3210 or email Chad@theaterj.org
Theater J is handicapped accessible and offers assistive listening devices for interested patrons. For specific questions about accessibility and parking please check Theaterj.org.
Theater J is a nationally-renowned, professional theater that celebrates, explores and struggles with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. Our work illuminates and examines ethical questions of our time, inter-cultural experiences that parallel our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the nation's largest and most prominent Jewish theater, we aim to preserve and expand a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theater-going experiences.Guided by Jewish values and heritage, the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center engages individuals and families through its cultural, recreational, educational, and social justice programs by welcoming people of all backgrounds to connect, learn, serve and be entertained together in ways that reflect the unique role of the Center in the nation's capital.
Theater J will host two theater-going trips in the summer of 2020, one a weekend to Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV and the other to the Berkshires, MA, and will continue having readings in its Yiddish Theater Lab and offering Classes for Theater Lovers, taught by Immerwahr and Ruf.
Edlavitch DCJCC embraces inclusion in all its programs and activities. They welcome and encourage the participation of all people, regardless of their background, sexual orientation, abilities, or religion, including interfaith couples and families.