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March 30, 2006 - Image 73

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-03-30

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

Arts & Entertainment

Past and
Present

The touring musical

Mamelah! looks at the

friendship between

Jewish women of

different generations.

New York cast

members

Deborah Tranelli

Suzanne Chessler
Special to the Jewish News

and Joan Barber

star in the

musical Mamelah!,

playing April 6-9



at the Seligman

Performing Arts

Center.

F

ans of the TV show
Dallas might very well
remember Deborah
Tranelli, who played the part of
Bobby Ewing's secretary Phyllis,
a faithful and devoted friend
- and only a friend - for eight
years.
Tranelli, who has since
released the award-winning CD
A Lot of Livin', brings back
more memories - very per-
sonal ones - as she appears in
Mamaleh!. The touring musical
is about three JeWish women
recalling the-past and mulling
Over issues they currentlyare
facing.

The play, running April 6-9 at
the Seligman Performing Arts
Center in Beverly Hills, crosses
generations as three actresses
take on additional roles and
contemporary concerns. Mitchell
Uscher, who wrote the play,
based the characters on his own
mamaleh" and her friends.

Familiar Characters
"I'm Jewish, and they say write
what you know," says Uscher,
49, who asked Roy Singer to
compose the music. "All my life,
I heard stories about my mother
and her two best friends. My
characters do not represent them

Writing plays since elemen-
specifically, but they do take on
tary school, Uscher is on his
some of the traits of the women
third musical with Singer. Life
I've known.
on the Third Rail also ran Off
"We get people from different
Broadway. Uscher developed that
religious and ethnic groups in
production while working in the
the audience, and they will tell
field of entertainment public
me that their mothers are like
relations and doing freelance
the characters in the play. I'm
glad that there is more that binds writing for magazines.
"This is our first Midwest tour
these groups together than keeps
of Mamaleh!, and we're look-
them separate."
The plot has to do with women ing forward to it',' says Uscher,
who also cast Joan Barber, a
meeting once a month and
University of Michigan graduate,
discovering more about them-
and Jane Strauss, who appeared
selves as they talk. Songs include
on Broadway with Patti LuPone
"Grandma's Hands:' which is
in Oliver! and went on a national
about immigration, and "No
tour of Me and My Girl with
Crime to Be Lonely',' which is
Tim Curry.
about different kinds of loneli-
ness.
U - M Trained
Uscher wrote the play while
"I play Maddy, an ad executive
working as artistic director for
who has been divorced three
a Jewish community center in
times," says Barber, 55, who finds
Florida. He wanted to offer a the-
her role very intense and mov-
atrical experience for members
ing."I love to hear the audience
and nonmembers and came up
laugh, and I sense the opposite
with the script. With positive
reaction at different times."
reaction from the people who
Barber, who played in the
saw the show, he got the idea to
take it on tour, including a run
Past and Present on page 60
Off Broadway.

N

March 30 e 2006

57

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