New Jewish Theatre

Taylor Steward, Antonio Rodriguez, Em Piro and Pete Winfrey in "Bad Jews"
Eric Woolsey

‘Tis the season for blue-light specials and blow-up Santas. But if you want to get away from December’s traditional trimmings, three plays open this week that have nothing to do with the holidays.

Except for one thing. Like the season, the productions are all about relational angst. Cue the piercing release of pent-up resentment and painful regret. At least it won’t be tied up with a big shiny bow.

Sara Sapp as Child B, Sarah McKenney as Child A and Steven Castelli as Clown in Theatre Nuevo's "This Is Not Funny"
Theatre Nuevo

A clown, a poet, two children and two newscasters walk … onto a stage.

It’s not a joke (although it has jokes). It’s a play called “This Is Not Funny,” by a new company named Theatre Nuevo, opening tonight at the Chapel off Skinker near Forest Park. But the name’s a contradiction, said founder and director Anna Skidis.

Alex Heuer

New Jewish Theatre closes its 2014-15 with “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.” Based on a true story, the musical chronicles the life of writer David Hein’s mother while addressing the topic of marriage equality through song and dance. New Jewish Theatre artistic director Kathleen Sitzer and actors Ben Nordstrom and Laura Ackermann joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the production.

Nordstrom, who portrays David Hein, accompanied himself on guitar to perform the song that opens the production.

Provided by the Actors Studio

The St. Louis Theater Circle, a group of local theater critics, released its 2015 award nominees on Friday. 

“It was, I think, a terrific year,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch theater critic Judith Newmark told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday. “It was a year in which we lost one theater — that’s always going to happen. There also are some new people on the horizon. And it was a year in which, I think Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, which is a free event that draws huge crowds, really came into its own with a double production of ‘Henry IV’ and ‘Henry V.’”

Actress Susie Wall plays Dr. Ruth Westheimer in the New Jewish Theatre's one-woman play.
New Jewish Theatre

Actress Susie Wall is talking about sex. On stage. As Dr. Ruth. But she’s not impersonating Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

“The issue is for it not to be an impersonation,” said Jerry McAdams, who is directing Mark St. Germain’s one-woman play “Becoming Dr. Ruth” at the New Jewish Theatre. “The most important thing is she is so well known that if you try to be Dr. Ruth in kind of a cartoonish sense, you’ll lose the audience. This is a terrific actress who’s doing a really good script.”

Courtesy New Jewish Theatre

Actor Ed Asner is coming to St. Louis to perform a benefit next Sunday for New Jewish Theatre. Best known for playing the character of Lou Grant in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, this time Asner is taking on the role of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a one-man show called "FDR."

The performance is adapted from the 1958 play “Sunrise at Campobello” and takes the audience on a journey through FDR’s four-term presidency, from the Depression through World War II.

(Courtesy of Jeff Hirsch)

New Jewish Theatre opens their 17th season with Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor. More of a sketch comedy piece than a true play, the small vignettes of Anton Chekov’s short stories, represent slices of Russian life at the turn of the last century and are quilted together by a narrator, a writer who is auditioning some of his characters for us. David Wassilak plays the narrator and involves himself in several of the stories (either as the narrator character or as a specific character, it’s a bit unclear.)

Actor, director and playwright Ami Dayan returns to St. Louis to perform his adaptation of Orem Neeman’s one-man play Conviction. Dyan grew up in a Kibbutz in Israel, but spent two years in St. Louis in the early 1970s when his father was the Israeli emissary to St. Louis at the JCC.  So it will be a homecoming of sorts when he performs at the New Jewish Theatre on the JCC campus.