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Arts & Entertainment
Jake Epstein of TV's Degrassi stars in
Spring Awakening, a Tony-winning musical
about self-discovery and sexual awakening.
Special to the Jewish News
ake Epstein never has been to
Detroit, but he fully expects the
city to feel a bit like home.
On tour with the Tony Award-winning
musical Spring Awakening, Epstein is plan-
ning to have lots of family and friends
watch him on the stage of the Fisher
Theatre. The local run, April 20-May 9,
will be the closest to his Canadian home-
"I've already been in about 20 cities,
and I have lots of friends in Windsor,"
says Epstein, 23, who plays one of the lead
characters, Melchior, and is on his first
tour in a stage, TV and film career that
spans more than a decade.
"This is a big Broadway musical with a
lot of meaning and purpose behind it, and I
think that's really rare today. It's a show that
talks about sexual awakening for teenagers.
"The story was written more than 100
years ago, but this theater piece is totally
innovative. There's a band on stage, and
everyone has a microphone to become the
lead singer when he or she has a song to
Broadway Comes To Detroit
Broadway! Nederlander Detroit has
announced its 2010-2011 Broadway in
Detroit subscription season.
Shows include the national tour
premiere of West Side Story, Sept. 30-
Oct.17, 2010, at the Fisher Theatre;
the arena-rock love story Rock of
Spring Awakening, which won eight
out of its 11 Tony nominations in 2007, is
based on the 1891 Frank Wedekind play
and features a score by Duncan Sheik,
book and lyrics by Steven Sater, direction
by Michael Mayer and choreography by
Bill T. Jones. The coming-of-age tale deals
with private yearnings, hopes and anguish.
"My character is an atheistic intellec-
tual in a small, provincial German town,
and he's the one who has read everything
about sex but has never experienced it,"
Epstein says. "The play is about his jour-
ney toward finding love for the first time.
"There's an intensity in Melchior that I
relate to. What I love is that he's potentially
`the ingenue' in the musical while also
being dark and conflicted."
Epstein wasn't thinking about theater at
age 9 when tempted to audition for an arts
school in Canada. Considering himself a
"total jock," he thought the tryouts simply
would be a way of cutting his regular classes.
"I ended up getting in and meeting a
drama teacher who sent me to my first
professional audition," Epstein says. "I got
the part, and my career kept snowball-
ing. I got an agent and
kept getting roles. I moved
into television and was
Jake Epstein (Melchior) and Christy Altomare (Wendla)
on the [teen-oriented]
from the Spring Awakening national tour.
TV show Degrassi: The
Next Generation [as Craig
the rest of the family to be artistic. Mom
Manning] for six years!'
Kathy Kacer has written about history,
Epstein, whose first professional theater
particularly the Holocaust, for young read-
experience was as a paperboy in a star-
ers and just released her first adult book,
filled Toronto staging of Our Town, also has Restitution: A Family's Search for Their
appeared in productions of Oliver!, Dog Sees Heritage Lost in the Holocaust.
God, Cinderella and Dangerous Liaisons.
"I'm very close to my family, and I
The actor, with television credits that
often see my family because of something
include The Zack Files, Crown Heights and
Jewish," says Epstein, who went to Hebrew
Paradise Falls, left Degrassi to study at the
school, had a bar mitzvah and enjoyed
National Theatre School of Canada. After
Shabbat dinners regularly hosted at homes
graduation, he spent a year doing various
of different relatives.
theater roles before being cast in Spring
"I have an extended family that's very
close, and that plays a huge role in keeping
Jamming with other musicians has
things normal. I've grown up with the idea
become a special benefit of this produc-
of being grateful for any success."
tion. A writer of plays and music, Epstein is
Epstein plans to take a break after the
comfortable with guitar, piano and drums.
tour, maybe doing some leisurely traveling
"My sister, Gabi, is a singer and actress,
on his own.
and we've performed together around
"I'm figuring out where I'm going to
Toronto," he says.
live, and I'm figuring out my goals," he
The actor-writer-musician jokes that
says. "Just to make a living being an actor
his dad, lawyer Ian Epstein, has allowed
is pretty amazing." ❑
Ages, Nov. 9-21, 2010, at the Fisher;
the musical Mary Poppins, a family
Feb. 22-March 16, 2011, at the Fisher;
and a brand-new 25th anniversary
production of Les Miserables, March
22-April 3, at the Fisher.
Subscription tickets may
be purchased online at www.
BroadwaylnDetroit.com or by calling the
Fisher Theatre at (313) 872-1000, ext. 0.
show perfect for the holidays, Dec.16,
2010-Jan. 2, 2011, at the Detroit Opera
House; the 2008 Tony Award winner
for Best Musical, In the Heights, Feb.
1-13, 2011, at the Fisher; the interna-
tional dance sensation Burn the Floor,
Spring Awakening runs April 20-
May 9 at the Fisher Theatre in
Detroit. Performances are at 8
p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m.
Saturdays-Sundays and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays. There is no evening perfor-
mance May 9. $24-$79. (800) 982-
2787; www.broadwayindetroit.com .
11114 I Nate Bloom
Special to the Jewish News
XI Celebrity Passover
wt The popularity of Twitter and blogs
written by celebri-
ties has resulted
in a boomlet in
Whitney Port, 25,
the star of the real-
ity show The City,
my family on Passover. I'm going to
make charoset in honor of them."
Also tweeting was actress
Elizabeth Banks, 36, a convert to
April 15 • 2010
Judaism: "Great seder last nite.
Outfoxed though by scrappy kid in
hunt for the afikomen."
Paltrow, 37, who was
raised in her father's
Jewish faith, posted
this on her personal
blog, which has a
lot of diet advice:
will be easy this
year now that I have
Roden's brilliant book, The Book
of Jewish Food. ... The flavors are
outstanding, and all of the recipes
have been simple to prepare. [On my
blog], I have two different versions
of matzah brei for brunch, and we
have found two gorgeous Napa Valley
kosher wines sure to take your seder
[meal] up a notch."
Opening Friday, April 16, are City
Island and The Joneses, both black
Island stars Andy
Garcia as Vince
Rizzo, an aspiring
actor and prison
guard, who discloses
a personal secret
in acting class and
thereby sets off a
chain of events that
throws his life and
his family's life into chaos. Julianna
Margulies, 43, co-stars as Garcia's
hot-tempered wife. Alan Arkin, 76,
plays his acting coach.
Demi Moore and
David Duchovny, 49,
co-star as a seem-
ingly "perfect" cou-
ple, the Joneses, who
move into an upscale
with their "perfect"
teenage kids. The
Jones family has the
best of everything,
and their neighbors try to keep up.
The neighbors don't know that the
Joneses are actually employees of a
stealth marketing company.