The Little Theater That Could
II His Mark
Special to the Jewish News
ark Medoff has been writing
successful plays for some 30
years — the Tony Award-
winning Children of a Lesser
God, for one — and has developed his own
system for gauging audience reaction. He
watches for people moving around in their
That's what he'll be doing at West
Bloomfield's Jewish Ensemble Theatre,
where he will be attending rehearsals and
then early performances of his Tommy J 6-
Sally, which runs Oct. 2-Nov. 3.
Tommy J & Sally opens JET's 13th sea-
son; which includes four plays; a new
series of three guest programs; a continua-
tion of its Campaign Stop Hate, with pre-
sentations for youths; and a bar mitzvah
celebration that mixes tradition with
The bar mitzvah year builds on a 2001-
2002 repertoire that has brought the com-
pany a high degree of recognition. The
Detroit Free Press, the Oakland Press and
Between the Lines all recently presented
JET with awards for having the best season
among all the other professional theater
companies dotting metro Detroit.
Three other plays will fill out the 2002-
2003 JET subscription season.
Visiting Mr. Green, by Jeff Baron, run-
ning Dec. 4-Jan. 5, tells about the often-
humorous relationship shared by men of
Denial, by Peter Sagal, running Feb. 26-
March 30, recounts the experiences of a
Holocaust denier, represented by a Jewish
attorney, who is indicted by the govern-
ment for inciting violence.
The Chosen, adapted by Aaron Posner
and Chaim Potok from Potok's book, run-
ning May 7-June 9, returns to Brooklyn
for a story of friendship, religion, fathers
Tommy J 6. Sally, in only its fourth pro-
duction and making its Midwest debut, is
open to change since being staged at the
Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The
two-character piece tracks the tension as an'
unbalanced fan holds a controversial
celebrity hostage. Their encounters about
race, religion and personal identity reveal
wounds from the past.
"I don't think anything is ever finished,
and. I've already made a few changes for the
Michigan production," says Medoff, 62,
Playwright Mark Medoff Accidental playwright.
Guest Artist Series
JET offers new programming.
Three programs outside regular pro-
ductions enhance this season's JET
schedule — a panel discussion on cre-
ativity, a sole-performance exploring
the character of Shylock and an original
play geared toward teens.
"This is the first year that we have
the Jewish Community Center theater
without interruption between October
and June, so we thought we'd do some
things we have wanted to do for a long
time," says Evelyn Orbach, JET artistic
director. "We believe the Guest Artist
Series will help us grow as a company."
• "Mystery of
Creativity," a panel dis-
cussion with mystery
Gareth Armstrong brings "Shylock" to JET
novelist and screenwriter
Leonard, JET and
the eyes of Shylock's friend, Tubal, the
Michigan Opera Theatre set designer
only other Jewish character in the The
Monika Essen and Eminem music pro- Merchant of Venice.
ducer Jeff Bass at 7:30 p.m. Monday,
• HeartBEAT, a play presented April
5-6 that combines classic Greek theater
• Shylock, a one-person theater piece
and the poetry of the street with step
performed Nov. 6-24 by Royal
dance; rbythm and song as defined by
Shakespeare alumnus Gareth
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.
Armstrong, who tells the story of
"The [panel] discussion came at the
Shakespeare's most famous Jew through suggestion of Dorie Shwedel and Joan
Israel, of Nonesuch Productions,
who are interested in exploring
the subject of creativity through
different people," Orbach
"I saw the Shylock piece, which
has been done in many countries,
and was very impressed. Mosaic
has done so well with teens that I
wanted to present the company."
— Suzanne Chessler
Ticket prices are $50 for the
panel discussion and $18-$30'
for the performances, witi- •
discounts for seniors and
students. (248) 788-2900.