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November 14, 2003 - Image 93

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NEW YORK from page 68

`Rounding

Adam Arkin
reconnects with
Judaism.

ro

laying a father
lacking in athletic
skills is easy for
Matthew Arkin,
star of Rounding Third. In
the Off-Broadway show, he
portrays an inept Little
League assistant coach who
can barely throw or hit a
ball. In real life, it's hardly a
stretch.
"I don't know anything
about baseball," says Arkin,
Matthew Arkin, left, and Robert Clohessy in "Rounding Third"
from his dressing room in
the lower level of the theater
following a Wednesday
parents were both Jewish, but I mostly grew up with my
matinee. "I didn't grow up playing baseball, and I can
dad, and he didn't practice. His parents were commu-
hardly throw a ball. I am in a panic every night that my
nists. I was raised with the knowledge that I was Jewish,
ball will wind up in the audience."
but that was it."
While Arkin, 42, may be a bit apprehensive about
Arkin married a woman, Pam, who was Lutheran,
catching the ball, he's not at all uneasy about being on
and while they wanted to raise their son Sam with some
stage. The son of legendary actor Alan Arkin began per-
religious affiliation, they hadn't committed to anything.
forming at age 8. "My first professional job was a small
"Then, when the World Trade Center attack hap-
film in the 1970s, which was directed by my dad. My
pened, I turned to a Jewish friend and asked if I could
brother Adam (Chicago Hope) was in it, too."
talk to her rabbi," says Arkin.
Although Arkin had a famous father, he created his
Per the rabbi's suggestion, Arkin and his wife
own niche in the theatrical world. "People ask me what
enrolled in an Introduction to Judaism class. "About
my big break was, and I have to answer, Ifs not one big
half way through the course, Pam turned to me and
break, rather 30 or more,'" says Arkin.
said, This is the way I want to raise Sam.' So we
The Brooklyn-born Arkin's parents split up shortly
joined Temple Israel in New Rochelle and Sam started
after he was born. He lived with his mother until he
Hebrew school."
was 7, and then moved in with his father.
Since Arkin never had a bar mitzvah, he enrolled in
Taking residence in various cities around the country,
an adult two-year study program. "Next May I will have
he landed in Westchester, N.Y., at age 14. Often he
my own bar mitzvah," Arkin says proudly, while hold-
would travel with his father while he filmed on location.
ing up his Hebrew for Adults workbook. "I manage to
Despite growing up around show business, Arkin
study before shows."
questioned for a time the kind of career he wanted to
When Arkin told his parents his plans, not only
pursue. After graduating from Wesleyan University in
were they supportive, they both revealed stories about
Connecticut, he went to Fordhatn Law School in New
Arkin's roots.
York and landed a job in a law firm for two years.
"My mother told me that my great-grandfather,
But I missed acting and just quit the firm one day,"
David Goldberg, was a rabbi. He had published six
says Arkin.
books, founded the Jewish Digest, and was the first
After many auditions, theater, film and TV roles start-
Jewish chaplain in the Navy during World War I.
ed coming in, and he appeared on Broadway in Neil
"On his Naval Academy graduation photo, you can
Simon's The Sunshine Boys with Jack Klugman and Tony
see crosses on his lapels, because they didn't have an
Randall, and in Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, a
insignia for Jewish clergy. My mother saved his silver
role he also played at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit.
Kiddush cup and sent it to me."
Other New York credits include Donald Margulies'
Arkin's father surprised him with a shofar, passed
Dinner with Friends and Charles Busch's Off-Broadway
down from his grandfather. "I never knew it existed,"
comedy hit You Should Be So Lucky. His film and televi-
he says. "It had been sitting in a box for 30 years."
sion credits include Death to Smoochy, Liar, Liar, The
For the past decade, Arkin says, his life has been "an
Education of Max Bickford, Ed, Law and Order and All
exciting journey."
My Children.
Whatever his future holds, he is happy to have con-
Arkin's Judaism hadn't played a part in his life. But all
nected with his Jewish roots and to be able to have a
that changed on Sept. 11.
successful acting career. Cl
"I didn't grow up religious at all," says Arkin. "My

,

— Alice Burdick Schweiger

to become a local TV star at 16 and an
award-winning songwriter. Allen, who
was gay, died of AIDS at the age of 48.
Hugh Jackman is winning rave
reviews as Allen; Stephanie J. Block
stars as Liza.
Jewish playwright Martin Sherman
(Bent), wrote the musical's book. His
story spans Allen's modest beginnings to
his untimely death.

At the Imperial, 249 West 45 St.,
(212) 239-6200.

The Caretaker:A Broadway revival writ-
ten by Harold Pinter, this production is
a black comedy about two brothers,
Aston and Mick. Their lives are disrupt-
ed when a mysterious vagabond, Davies
(played by Patrick Stewart), becomes the
caretaker of their property. The brothers'
fragile relationship worsens.
According to an article in the
Forward, Pinter, who was born in 1930
in London, "celebrated his bar mitz-
vah, but then ended all connections
with religion."

At the American Airlines Theatre,
227 West 42nd St., (212) 719-1300.

WickaTaking place in the fictitious
land of Oz, this musical is a prelude to
Dorothy's visit there. With music and
lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by
Winnie Holzman (My So Called Life),
it's the story of two mismatched friends,
Elphaba (played by Idina Menzel), who
is misunderstood, smart and shows a tal-
ent for wizardry, and Glinda (played by
Kristin Chenoweth), who is beautiful
and popular.
The two go to school together and
become roommates. Elphaba is invited
to meet the Wizard of Oz (played by
Joel Grey) and brings Glinda along with
her. Elphaba becomes the Wicked Witch
of the West, and Glinda becomes the
Good Witch.
The musical is based on Steven
Maguire's novel, The Life and Times of

the Wicked Witch of the Mut.
Idina Menzel, who is painted green
for her role in the show, is married to
actor Taye Diggs, whom she met after
she landed her first theater role, as
Maureen in Rent, for which she received
a Tony nomination. Growing up Jewish
on Long Island, Menzel sang in a band
and performed at weddings and b'nai
mitzvah while she was in high school
and in college at NYU.
At the Gershwin Theater; 222 W
51st St., (212) 307-4100.

New YORK on page 70

11/14
2003

69

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