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January 03, 2013 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-01-03

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

arts & entertainment

THAT

The show poster

DOROTHY
PARKER

with Carole

Lempert and,

Writtez&!>n!=1bICl:o1Lr pert

right, the real

Sharp Shooter

Dorothy Parker,

who once said:
"The first thing I
do in the morning
is brush my teeth
and sharpen my
tongue."

Former Oak Parker brings the rapier wit of
poet/satirist Dorothy Parker to the stage.

I

Suzanne Chessler

Contributing Writer

C

arol Lempert, who left Michigan
almost 25 years ago to pursue an
acting career, is returning as both
an actress and a playwright.
Her attention is being given to Dorothy
(Rothschild) Parker, writer and activist,
known for bringing humor to a wide array of
fans but silently suffering personal turmoil
that led to three suicide attempts.
Lempert wrote the one-woman produc-
tion, That Dorothy Parker, and will be per-
forming the title role as well as other charac-
ters important to Parker's life.
The fun and the drama, scheduled by
Jewish Ensemble Theatre, will be presented
at 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at the
Berman Center for the Performing Arts
at the Jewish Community Center in West
Bloomfield.
"I've been touring this show since 1999,
and I love sharing Dorothy's story with audi-
ences, particularly those who don't know
much about her:' says Lempert, 51, in a
phone conversation from the road.
"When people come to hear some of her
famous poems and quotes, they say they
knew them but didn't know they were from
her. I like this educational part.
"The play explores and contrasts her
public self versus her private self so I've
interspersed her funny poems against what
was going on in her life at the times she was
writing them:"
Parker's literary achievements made
her part of the Algonquin Round Table, a
group of famous writers regularly meeting
for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New
York City. Her books include Enough Rope,

Jews

Nate Bloom

Special to the Jewish News

Film Notes

Opening on Friday, Jan. 4, is Not Fade
Away, the first feature film by Italian-
American David Chase, the creator of
The Sopranos. Like that TV show, this
film is set in New Jersey and features
an Italian-American family – with
James Gandolfini once again playing
the father.
But the time is 1964, and the family
is just a normal, blue-collar one. The
central character, Doug, is a teenager
who, inspired by the Rolling Stones
singing "Not Fade Away" on TV, forms
a rock band with two buddies, put-
ting a wedge between himself and his

28

January 3 • 2013

JN

and she regularly wrote for the New Yorker
"I came across a Dorothy Parker mono-
among many other magazines.
logue, The Waltz. It's about a sort of wall-
"The play is sort of in the style of Lily
flower at a dance, and I thought it was really
Tomlin as I present 12 characters:' says
funny. When I finished reading it, I started
Lempert, whose additional portrayals
looking for her other work — short stories,
include writers Edna Ferber (born to Jewish
poems, reviews. I also read four biographies:"
parents in Kalamazoo),
Lempert learned that
Robert Benchley and
Parker's father was Jewish
Alexander Woollcott.
(he was not related to the
`As the creator and pro-
famous Rothschild bank-
ducer, I have a talkback
ing family) and married
after every show. Because
a Catholic woman shortly
I've shared 90 intimate
after the death of Parker's
moments with audiences,
biological mother, who was
I get a lot of joy in sharing
of Scottish descent. The
what each audience is tak-
writer was 4 years old at the
ing away from the experi-
time of her loss.
ence
Parker, educated in
That Dorothy Parker,
Catholic schools, took her
directed by Janice
penname from her first hus-
Greenberg, takes place
band, stockbroker Edwin
on one day in 1943,
Pond Parker. She wrote
Carole Lemper t: "Parker's
when Parker walks into
screenplays with her second
Judaism man ifested itself in husband, Alan Campbell,
the Algonquin to mourn
Woollcott, encounters gawk- her social act ivism."
who also had Jewish heri-
ers (the audience) and remi-
tage.
nisces about her life.
"Parker's Judaism manifested itself in her
"The play started out with a 20-minute
social activism:' Lempert says. "She got quite
version after I was invited to perform in a
involved in creating unions:'
festival; Lempert says. "Audiences wanted
Lempert's Judaism, when she was living in
to know more so the piece has grown. I pre-
Oak Park, manifested itself in participation
miered the current version Off-Broadway in
with B'nai B'rith Girls. She was president of
2008:'
her chapter.
Lempert's interest in Parker was launched
"I was a little kid who was singing and
with the help of her husband, Scotty Watson, dancing around the house says the Oak
a sketch comedian and instructor who has
Park High School graduate, who participated
worked at Second City
in performance activities before studying
"Scotty had wanted to work with me on a
theater at Wayne State University.
show about vaudeville," Lempert recalls. "I
"After I got my degree and toured with
didn't know much about vaudeville so I took
a children's production out of the Detroit
myself to the library and got a book.
Institute of Arts, I thought I would study at

father.
Playing Doug (and looking like a
young Bob Dylan in the role) is John
Magaro, 29, who has done many TV
guest shots and has had a few big film
parts. Magaro is the son of an Italian
Catholic father and a Jewish mother,
both teachers. He was raised Jewish.
Brad Garrett, 52, has a large support-
ing role in the film.

On The Radio

Magaro

I recently heard two
terrific radio inter-
views conducted by
actor Alec Baldwin
on his public radio
series Here's the
Thing. One was with

African-American comedian Chris
Rock and the other with musical leg-
end Herb Alpert, 77.
I thought that the interviews were
brand-new, but it turns out my NPR
station had only recently picked up
this series for broadcast; the Rock
interview was a year old while Alpert
spoke to Baldwin last March. Baldwin
is a great host; Here's the Thing can
be listened to or
downloaded online.
Rock told Baldwin
that half his audi-
ence is white, and
they appreciate
that he doesn't try
and do "cross-over"
material to appeal to
Alpert

York University in Canada to round out my
education. I moved to Toronto, met my hus-
band and stayed for about 20 years.
"The Toronto acting scene is like the New
York acting scene. I could do theater, film,
television and commercials, and I did com-
edy with my husband:'
When Watson got cast in an Off-Broadway
show about six years ago, they decided to
move to New York, where he continues to
appear and teach improv as she pursues
performance opportunities through stage,
television and film.
Lempert's work has included another solo
show, After Anne Frank. Part of it involves
coming to terms with the actress' own spiri-
tuality. Affiliated with a Reform congregation
in Toronto, she joined the Actors Temple in
New York City.
While touring, Lempert maintains a paral-
lel career as executive coach and corporate
leadership trainer.
Before she moved to Toronto, Lempert
appeared in three JET productions, including
Cantorial and Crossing Delancey, and left the
company with two priceless gifts beyond her
stage talents.
"My parents, Thelma and Harold
Lempert, always came to see me, and
they really loved what JET was doing:' she
explains. "They have been volunteering as
ushers ever since:'



That Dorothy Parker will be
presented at 5 and 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan.12, at the Berman
Center for the Performing Arts at
the Jewish Community Center in
West Bloomfield. $42-$45. (248)
788-2900; www.jettheatre.org .

them. However, he shocked Baldwin
when he said that he first tries out
his material on Jews. Rock explained
that he did new routines before an
audience of mostly older Jews in West
Palm Beach, Fla. If they laughed, Rock
said, he knew he would "kill" with
black people.
One highlight of the Alpert inter-
view: "Stan Getz (1927-1991), the late,
great sax player, was like a brother to
me. I produced two albums with Stan,
and he played this one song that was
just ... man, goose bumps were flying
up my back. I said, 'Man, what are you
thinking when you're playing?' and he
says, 'Well, I think like I'm in front of
the [Western] Wall in Jerusalem, and
I'm davening." ❑

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