Genesis Theatrical ProductionNFP is presenting a new musical “From Generation to Generation” at Stage 773 through May 1st. While this is a touching and moving story about a grandmother’s “legacy” to her unborn granddaughter, I would have to call it a “work in progress” and the perfect play for a synagogue or Temple to put on as its annual fundraiser. Written by Karen Sokolof Javitch and Elaine Jabenis with Ms Javitch writing all of the 16 songs, this is a very sentimental story that has some charm and some comic touches, but in total hasn’t got the chemistry that will allow the “general market” to truly understand the premise. There are many references to the past; from escaping the Holocaust, to the struggles of losing a family member, to an eerie production number where four of the ladies “spoof” Golda Meir, a very important part of the history of Israel.
Directed by long time local director David Zak and choreographed by Heather Haneman, this is a perfect community theater show or as I said earlier, a Temple fund raiser. The story is more for a Jewish audience than other ethnic groups and although many of them will understand and “get it”, this is geared for a specific audience which is why in the program they have definitions for many of the terms used in this play. There are some strong performances in this production, led by Susan Veronica Adler as Rose Lieberman, who is dying of Cancer when her daughter tells her that she is pregnant. This, being a life changing moment is where the story takes us on the “legacy” ride where Rose begins to make tapes speaking of her life to her future grandchild and shares stories of her life with this yet to be child. I have no problem with the concept. It is all the silly “schtick” ( one they do not define in thei glossary- inane little jokes that really do nothing towards making the plot or story more understandable- just there for a laugh) and dialogue that adds nothing to the growth of what Rose must experience during this time in her life.
Think about how you would feel if you knew that you only had a short time to exist and that by the time you were gone a new child would be born, who would have only second hand knowledge of you and your value as a person. With technology today, we can leave more of a legacy than ever before. A video of that person talking to the other means that we would know the sound of their voice and what they looked like, not in a still photo, but in a conversational manner of just speaking to the child and telling stories of the past. Wow! I think back to my childhood and my Bubbie ( grandmother, on my father’s side). I never knew her husband and only saw a few pictures of him. I always felt that it would be a wonderful moment to have a sit down with Max and get to know who he was and his story. Today, we can leave a series of things that will allow those to follow, a feeling that for one brief moment, they knew who we were.
This is the premise of the play and although it gets there, it leaves far to many holes along the way. While I loved Ms Adler and many of the other cast members (the lovely Annamarie Schutt, Ashley Stein, the adorable Nicole Rudakova- who packs a powerful voice, and Darrelyn Marx) I found the ensemble miscast for many of the roles they had to take, but understanding the limited number of performers one can use in a small scale production, they all did a great job, again with a limited script to work with. There were a couple of songs that I would keep, even if a rewrite is done. I absolutely loved “Life Was Simple Then”, “My Bubbie and Me”, “Sabbath Prayer” and of course “From Generation to Generation”
While this show has possibilities, if they want to proceed in order to really reach the general market, they need to tighten up the story and get to the truth about leaving behind something of yourself, in a way that it crosses religious lines. They Greeks, Italians, Mexicans and polish all have similar feelings and emotions. There is no reason that this play has to be “over Jewish” in order to be sensitive. Trust me, these feelings and emotions are the same to us all. Yes there are times you will smile and times that you will feel that little tear rolling down your cheek, but to feel these emotions, “You Do Not Have To Be Jewish”.
“From Generation to generation” will continue at Stage 773 (formerly The Theatre Building) located at 1225 West Belmont in Chicago through May 1st with performances as follows:Thursday,Friday and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and discounts for seniors and students are available. Hey, Bubbies- bring in a photo of your grandchild ( the one you kvell over), buy a senior ticket ( yes, you have to admit to being a senior) and you will get a CD of the music in this production, PLUS- your grandchild’s photo will be placed on the wall- the Bubbie Board for all to see.
To order your tickes, visit the box office, call 773-327-5252 or visit www.stage773.com