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September 19, 2013 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-09-19

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arts & entertainment

Sibling Rivalry

JET kicks off 25th-anniversary season with Wendy
Wasserstein's Tony-nominated The Sisters Rosensweig.

Suzanne Chessler
I Contributing Writer


hree actresses are thinking about
Jewish traditions — and what
it means to abandon them —
as they take on the main roles in The
Sisters Rosensweig, the first play in Jewish
Ensemble Theatre's 25th-anniversary sea-
The award-winning play written by
Wendy Wasserstein and directed by
David Magidson runs Sept. 25-Oct. 20 at
the Jewish Community Center in West
The sisters, meeting in London to cel-
ebrate the birthday of the oldest, Sara
Goode (Sandra Birch), evaluate their lives
and relationships, offering comedy amid
more serious moments.
"I am not Jewish, but I don't under-
stand Sara's rejection of her religious
background:' says Birch, who worked as a
resident artist as well as a voice and move-
ment instructor at the Purple Rose Theatre
Company for 20 years.
Birch, a Westland resident, is recall-
ing what she learned about Judaism from
friends and colleagues as she prepared
to appear in another JET production,
Imagining Madoff
"In The Sisters Rosensweig, I am playing
someone who is brilliant and cosmopoli-
tan and going through a midlife crisis:'
says Birch, 52, and portraying someone
54. "I've found it interesting to explore the
underlying human themes in the comedy
Birch, who spent her early career associ-
ated with Canadian theater, has worked in
regional theaters around Michigan.


"I love the diversity:' she says.
While Sara has settled into being a
British banker, the youngest sister, Pheni
(Kristin Condon), has opted for world
travel through journalism.
"Pheni reminds me of an aunt who has
traveled the world teaching English:' says
Condon, 34, an Ann Arbor resident who
lived in many places before coming to
"I learned about the religion by growing
up with a Jewish friend and researching
historical references and rituals."
This will be Condon's first play and first
job in Michigan. Besides appearing in
independent films, she has been seen in
The Cape, Bones and national commercials
on television.
"My character, Pheni, is an intelligent
and powerful woman:' says Condon,
who will be doing choreography work
with John Neville Andrews at the School
of Music, Theatre and Dance at the
University of Michigan. "She's also funny,
light-hearted and easy to relate to:"
Magidson explains that good actresses
have a talent for absorbing other people
into themselves so he does not have to
devote considerable time to explaining
Judaism in preparation for inhabiting a
That outlook is different from his direct-
ing experiences with My Name Is Asher
Lev, which had a more in-depth explora-
tion of religion and included backstage
instruction from a rabbi.
"Characters have a more secular
perspective in The Sisters Rosensweig,"
Magidson says. "But we still talk about
religious issues that are raised in the

Bucatinsky, 47,
outstanding guest
star, drama series

Nate Bloom

Emmy Time
The Primetime Emmy Awards airs 8-11


September 19 • 2013


The Sisters Rosensweig runs Sept. 25-Oct. 20 in the Aaron DeRoy Theatre in the
Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield. Performances are at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays, Sept. 25 and Oct.16, and Thursdays; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, and
Sundays; 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6. $41-$48 with
discounts for seniors, students and groups. (248) 788-2900: jettheatre.org .

JET Season Schedule

The Jewish Ensemble Theatre contin-
ues its anniversary season with the
following productions:

4000 Miles (Nov. 6-Dec.1)

by Amy Herzog
Political and family values come into
play when a young man experiences
tragedy and spends time with his

The Scullery Maid (Dec. 18-Jan. 12)

by Joseph Zettelmaier
In this world premiere, a secret about
her father has life-and-death implica-
tions for a Jewish maid in the castle
of England's King Edward III.

Writing: Pamela
Adlon, 47, and Louis

C.K. (who has one
Jewish grandfather),
also co-stars of
FX's Louie, vie for the comedy series
writing award with David Crane, 56
(Episodes); David Mamet, 65 (Phil
Spector, which also earned him nods
for best director and best miniseries/
movie as producer) and Tom Stoppard,
76 (Parade's End), compete in the
miniseries/movie category; and David
Benioff, 42, is up for drama series


The Diary of Anne Frank (March
24-April) by Francis Goodrich and
Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy
JET's 18th annual production of the
classic play for southeast Michigan
schoolchildren; public performance on
March 30.

Cravings: Songs of Hunger and
Satisfaction (March 22)

by Belle Linda Halpern
Contemporary ballads, Yiddish
showstoppers and Halpern's Jewish-
American culinary journey fill this
show about tasting life.

by Mark Humphrey
A New Year's Eve homage to come-
dian Jack Benny includes party time
for two audiences.

Orchestra of Exiles (TBA) directed by
Josh Aronson
The development of the Israel
Philharmonic Orchestra is presented
in a film that includes commentary by
famous musicians (in cooperation with
the JCC's Lenore Marwil Film Festival).

Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting (Jan.

Other Desert Cities (April 23-May 18)

29-Feb. 23) by Ed Schmidt
The general manager of the Brooklyn
Dodgers wants Jackie Robinson to
play Major League ball and looks to
others in breaking the color barrier.

by Jon Robin Baitz
Emotional blackmail surrounds a holi-
day reunion that introduces a daugh-
ter's script revealing what her parents
want to forget. ❑

Mr. Benny (Dec. 31)

- Suzanne Chessler

Special to the Jewish News

p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, on CBS. Here
are confirmed-to-be-Jewish nominees
in marquee categories.
Acting: Lena Dunham, 27, lead
actress, comedy series (Girls, also
nominated for best director and best
comedy series as producer/creator);
Mayim Bialik, 37, supporting actress,
comedy series (Big Bang Theory);
Mandy Patinkin, 60, supporting actor,
drama series (Homeland); Michael
Douglas, 68, lead actor, miniseries/
movie (Behind the Candelabra); Dan

Left to right: Sandra Birch (Sara), Kristin Condon
(Pheni) and Emily Rose (Gorgeous) play the Rosensweig
sisters in JET's opening play of the 2013-14 season.

(Game of Thrones, which also nabbed

him a best drama series nod as pro-
ducer). Note: All the shows up for best
writing in the variety, music or comedy
special category have some Jewish
writers, including Jon Stewart, 50, for

The Daily Show.

Best series and miniseries/movie
awards go to the show's producers:
Best Comedy Series: Big Bang Theory
(Chuck Lorre, 60) and Modern Family
(Steve Levitan, 51) compete against
Dunham's Girls; Best Drama Series:
Homeland (Howard Gordon, 52) and
Mad Men (Matthew Weiner, 48) go up
against Benioff's Game of Thrones;
Best Variety/Music/Comedy Special:

Lorne Michaels,


(Saturday Night

Live) goes up against Stewart for The
Daily Show; Best Miniseries/Movie:
Brad Falchuk, 40 (American Horror
Story) competes with Mamet for Phil

Oldies Released
New on CD: Andy Kaufman and his
Grandmother, culled from 82 hours
of material comic Andy Kaufman

recorded before his 1984 death via
a small tape recorder he carried with
him everywhere.
New on DVD: Jack Benny: The Lost
Episodes, unreleased episodes of The
Jack Benny Show and color comedy
specials from Jack Benny, who died
in 1974 at age 80. E

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