Theater J announces season of provocative drama and abundant joy

Theater J announces season of provocative drama and abundant joy

Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr and Managing Director David Lloyd Olson have announced Theater J’s 32nd season, which

Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr and Managing Director David Lloyd Olson have announced Theater J’s 32nd season, which includes five plays and a bonus return engagement of a musical masterpiece. Described by The Washington Post as “the most influential Jewish theater company in the nation,” Theater J is excited to invite patrons to join them next season for what promises to be a breathtaking set of plays and musical stories.

David Lloyd Olson, Managing Director, and Adam Immerwahr, Artistic Director. Photo by Aryeh Schwartz.

The new season begins with Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story by Hannah Moscovitch, Ben Caplan, and Christian Barry and directed by Christian Barry. A tale of love between refugees at the turn of the century, Old Stock is a terrific new klezmer musical, performed by the Canadian company that created it. Next is the exquisite modern masterpiece Intimate Apparel, written by two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Set on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1905, Nottage’s original play tells the story of a Black seamstress, her epistolary romance with a Caribbean laborer, and the secret affection shared between her and her Orthodox Jewish fabric merchant.

The third play in the new season will be the side-splitting comedy Two Jews Walk Into a War… written by Seth Rozin and directed by Adam Immerwahr. This two-person play is based on a true story about the last two Jews in Afghanistan. Next in the lineup is Gloria: A Life by Emily Mann, a stirring play that chronicles the life of feminist organizer and political activist Gloria Steinem. Holly Twyford returns to Theater J to direct an all-female cast in this fascinating piece, which invites the audience to join the conversation in the second act. The last production of the season will be the North American premiere of One Jewish Boy by Stephen Laughton, directed by Johanna Gruenhut, Theater J’s Associate Artistic Director. This gripping play follows the story of an interfaith and interracial couple and paints a searing portrait of growing antisemitism in the UK. When the play first opened in London in 2018, it received a massive antisemitic response; posters were defaced, and the writer received death threats. Theater J is honored to bring this important play to American audiences.

In addition to the five-play season, Theater J is pleased to announce the return of an internationally renowned production. The Pianist of Willesden Lane, adapted and directed by Hershey Felder from the book The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, will be presented by Theater J for two weeks in December 2022. The one-woman performance, performed by Golabek herself, sold out when Theater J presented it at the Kennedy Center in their 2018/19 season.

“It’s a season of provocative drama and abundant joy,” says Immerwahr. “It’s a season of side-splitting laughs and tuneful melodies. As the nation’s leading Jewish theater, Theater J is proud to tell stories that highlight the breadth and range of Jewishness around the world — from New York City to London, from Vienna to Halifax. I know our audiences will treasure these heart-filled and conversation-starting plays and musicals.”

“This is the season we have been waiting for and planning toward since the early part of the pandemic,” says Dava Schub, CEO of the Edlavitch DCJCC. “Theater J came back appropriately cautious over this past year — starting with a one-woman show, then a two-person play, and now, looking forward to the 2022/23 season, we are jumping all in. Adam Immerwahr’s masterful fingerprints are all over this lineup and there is not one show in the bunch that you will want to miss.”

“Since reopening in the fall of 2021, Theater J has safely welcomed thousands of audience members back to the Goldman Theater at the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center,” says Olson. “Our COVID protocols have kept our visitors, staff, and artists safe, and we are grateful to our subscribers and patrons who have gathered together to experience the power of live theater.” Throughout the 2021/22 season, Theater J subscribers have been able to take advantage of their “show insurance” subscriber benefit, allowing them unlimited fee-free ticket exchanges if they are feeling under the weather or if someone in their family is exposed to the coronavirus. This benefit will continue to be available to 2022/23 subscribers, who will enjoy the best seats at the lowest prices. Subscriptions are on sale now starting at $129 at TheaterJ.org or by calling the ticket office at 202.777.3210.

In addition to their plays, Theater J continues to lead the field with exciting initiatives such as their Yiddish Theater Lab, online Classes for Theater Lovers, the Expanding the Canon commissioning program for playwrights, and their two New Jewish Play Prizes. Information on these programs can be found at TheaterJ.org.

Theater J’s 2022/23 Season

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story
By Hannah Moscovitch, Ben Caplan, and Christian Barry
Directed by Christian Barry
September 7 – 25, 2022

Sex, religion, and refugees — Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story has it all! A funny and edgy love story interwoven with a high-energy klezmer concert, this folk musical is inspired by the true tale of two Jewish Romanian refugees finding love on the shores of Canada in 1908. Featuring a spectacular performance by genre-bending Canadian sensation Ben Caplan, Old Stock has been wildly popular with audiences and critics alike in Canada, Great Britain, and New York and now makes its long-awaited DC debut.

Intimate Apparel
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Paige Hernandez
October 19 – November 13, 2022

The time is 1905, the place the Lower East Side. Sewing beautiful lingerie gives Esther, an African American seamstress, an intimate look at the love lives of her diverse clientele, but she yearns for a romance of her own. She finds herself in an epistolary courtship with a mysterious Caribbean man, though her heart secretly belongs to the Orthodox Jewish fabric merchant with whom she can never share a touch. Written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur “Genius Grant” Awardee Lynn Nottage (SweatRuined), this moving portrait of love, resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit has become one of the most beloved plays of our time.

Two Jews Walk Into a War…
By Seth Rozin
Directed by Adam Immerwahr
January 11 – February 5, 2023

Ishaq and Zeblyan are the last remaining Jews in Afghanistan. They share the only remaining synagogue that has not been destroyed by the Taliban, and a vital mission to repopulate the Jewish community in Kabul. Plus, they hate each other. Can this cantankerous couple commit to one incredible act of faith to keep their community alive without killing one another first? Part The Odd Couple and part Waiting for GodotTwo Jews Walk Into a War… is a ripped-from-the-headlines, modern-day vaudeville full of schtick, sorrow, and survival.

Gloria: A Life
By Emily Mann
Directed by Holly Twyford
March 8 – April 2, 2023

Gloria: A Life is more than a play — it’s a celebration of human connection. Five decades after Gloria Steinem began raising her voice and championing the voices of others, her call for equality is as urgent as ever. In this exploration of the iconic feminist’s extraordinary legacy and the women who inspired her (including Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Flo Kennedy, Coretta Scott King, and Wilma Mankiller), the first act tells her story, and the second invites the audience to share their own. Gloria Steinem’s stirring and uplifting narrative is a necessary reminder of the importance of speaking up and speaking out. Directed by Holly Twyford (Becoming Dr. Ruth), Gloria: A Life honors one of the most inspiring women of our time.

One Jewish Boy
By Stephen Laughton
Directed by Johanna Gruenhut
June 7 – July 2, 2023

In this bittersweet, sophisticated, and quick-fire new British comedy about antisemitism, Jesse, a nice Jewish boy, falls in love with Alex, a nice mixed-race girl. The love between them is pure and absolute, but Jesse has never been able to shake off the vicious attack that changed him forever. Navigating any relationship is difficult enough, but what happens when you factor in politics and rising prejudice? This provocative play received a massive antisemitic response when the UK production opened in 2018; posters were defaced, and the writer received death threats. Don’t miss the U.S. premiere of this urgent and unflinching comedy, which pits the impact of hatred against the power of love.

ADD-ON:
The Pianist of Willesden Lane
Based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane
By Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen
Adapted and directed by Hershey Felder
December 7 – 18, 2022

After a sold-out run at the Kennedy Center, Grammy-nominated pianist Mona Golabek makes her triumphant return in one of the most powerful performances in Theater J’s history. Set in Vienna in 1938 and in London during the Blitzkrieg, The Pianist of Willesden Lane tells the true and inspiring story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist whose dream of making her concert debut is dashed by the onset of World War II. Despite devastating personal loss, Jura endures through her music and pursues her dreams. Performed by Jura’s real-life daughter, the virtuosic Mona Golabek, The Pianist of Willesden Lane combines enthralling storytelling with breathtaking live performances of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and more.

About Theater J
Theater J is a nationally renowned professional theater that celebrates, explores, and struggles with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. Our work illuminates and examines ethical questions of our time, intercultural experiences that parallel our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the nation’s largest and most prominent Jewish theater, we aim to preserve and expand a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theatergoing experiences.

COVID Safety: All activity at Theater J will continue to be in accordance with regulations from the DC government and CDC, prioritizing the health, safety, and comfort of audience, staff, and artists. Current protocols can be found at theaterj.org and will continue to be updated as they evolve. 

About the Edlavitch DCJCC
Theater J is a proud program of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC). Guided by Jewish values and heritage, the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center engages individuals and families through its cultural, recreational, educational, and social justice programs by welcoming people of all backgrounds to connect, learn, serve, and be entertained together in ways that reflect the unique role of the Center in the nation’s capital.

The Edlavitch DCJCC embraces inclusion in all its programs and activities. We welcome and encourage the participation of all people, regardless of their background, sexual orientation, abilities, or religion, including interfaith couples and families.