BSKI mixes old time radio and JDate in new production

David Crespy

BY ELLEN FUTTERMAN

BSKI mixes old time radio and JDate in new production

The Jewish dating wesbite JDate claims to have more than 450,000 active members worldwide, about half in the United States. One of them happens to be David Crespy, an associate professor of playwriting and founder of the Writing for Performance program for the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Department of Theater.

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They say you should write what you know, so it makes sense that Crespy would turn to his experiences on JDATE as the basis for his play, which is being staged at Brith Shalom Kneseth Israel by the Men’s Club Dec. 18 and 19.

Crespy explains that “Beshert; Or, The Jewish Dating Cycle” is a comedy that explores the experiences of Nadya Finklestein, a divorced woman, who makes a decision to try to find a Jewish spouse for the first time in her life.

“The play is partly based upon my own experiences using JDATE and the rather bizarre and hilarious experiences of the women whom I dated,” Crespy explains. “It is also about having the courage after divorce to take a second chance at love.”

Styled like an old-time radio performance, the play uses dream technique to explore the nuances and comedy of Nadya’s experiences. Crespy says he actually used his own dreams in the writing of the play.

The play is being shown twice on Saturday, Dec. 18 after a noon lunch and 6:30 p.m. dinner; prices vary depending on whether you eat first or just see the play and at 2 p.m. Sunday. So grab your JDate and contact 314-725-6230 for reservations or mail them with payment to: BSKI Men’s Club, 1107 East Linden Avenue, St. Louis, Mo., 63117.

Calling on you

The way networks schedule programming is baffling. It seems the only time viewers can expect a new episode of a favorite show is during a sweep month, the last of which ended in November. So unless you’re really into “Skating with the Stars” and hackneyed holiday fare (with the exception of the beloved “It’s a Wonderful Life’), December is pretty much the pits when it comes to TV watching.

That’s one of the reasons an upcoming PBS mini-series, “The Calling,” sounds so promising. The series follows seven Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim Americans as they prepare for religious leadership and struggle with professional responsibilities, rigorous academics, interactions with congregants and teachers, dedication to lifelong service and occasional spells of doubt and uncertainty.

In addition to that compelling content, the show has a St. Louis Jewish connection.  Stacy Laiderman, who grew up here and was a member of United Hebrew Congregation, is the associate producer on the project. In her mid-20s, Laiderman now lives in Chicago and is doing some interesting work with film and not-for-profits.

“The Calling” is slated to air locally on PBS’ “Independent Lens” at 9 p.m Monday, Dec. 20 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21 on Channel 9. Each installment is two hours. There will also be a public showing It will be shown at the Missouri History Museum at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13.

For more information, go to www.whatsyourcalling.org.

P.S.: Yes, Virginia, there is a Hanukkah Harry

Last week, I wrote about Clayton High senior Phoebe Raileanu, who is starring as “Young Sophie” in the New Jewish Theatre’s production of “Last of the Red Hot Mamas.” Phoebe, who turns 18 on December 8th, wished that as a joint birthday/Hanukkah gift her father, Michael, could come to St. Louis from Los Angeles to see her in the play. Unfortunately, money is tight, Phoebe explained, and the family could only afford to have her mother come last weekend.

After the column ran, a childhood friend of Michael’s turned in frequent flyer points to get him a ticket. Several other readers stepped forward as well, offering to contribute money for a ticket or airline miles. A big thank you to all. I have a feeling Phoebe will never forget her 18th birthday/Hanukkah.