New Jewish Theatre celebrates over Kevin Kline Awards

The New Jewish Theatre has reason to kvell over the recent Kevin Kline Award to Donna Weinsting who played the mother in the three generation play From Door to Door. Donna, who was honored for her “Outstanding Performance by an Actress”, was in competition with productions at 32 other theatres (a total of 97 productions) which were vying for awards in 22 categories. The New Jewish Theatre was the only small professional non-Equity theatre to receive a coveted Kevin Kline Award, the second year in a row that it has achieved such glory. Last year “Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a supporting Role” was given to Gary Wayne Barker for his performance in Driving Miss Daisy.

What’s Wrong With This Picture? by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, will close the NJT’s tenth season. Described as a Jewish Blythe Spirit, the play opens at the end of a week of mourning and is the story of grief-stricken dry-cleaner Mort, whose wife Shirley died the week before after choking on a tough piece of moo shoo pork at the grand opening of a new Chinese restaurant. Despite the comic set-up, the play touches on many challenging themes, such as letting go of our loved ones. Part Jewish sitcom, part loopy fantasy, Margulies skillfully tosses back and forth between hilarity and sentiment in the most illogical situation. Directing it is the tremendously talented Kevin Kline nominee Edward Coffield. What’s Wrong With This Picture? opens today and you have ample time to see it as it runs through May 20 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets, reasonably priced from $18 to $25 can be reserved with a credit card by calling 314-442-3283. NJT, a program of the Jewish Community Center, performs at the Wolfson Studio Theatre of the JCC in Creve Coeur.

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Dance on Widow’s Row is being reprised at the Black Repertory Theatre having been a smash hit in its first production, a world premiere, in 2001. The play centers around the lives of four well-heeled widows who have buried nine husbands between them and are throwing a party for the town’s most eligible bachelors. But beware — the widow’s street is considered jinxed, and their late husbands may not have died of natural causes. It is directed by the Black Rep’s much honored Ron Himes and stars several members of the original cast including Sandra Mills Scott, Lisa Harris and A.C. Smith. Sounds like fun and a perfect girl’s night out vehicle. Dance on Widow’s Row runs through May 20 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square with performances on Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. For tickets, call 314-534-3810.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, an unlikely name for a smash Broadway hit, arrives in St. Louis next week at the Fox on its first national tour. The musical is about six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grownups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. According to my daughter Leslie who saw it on Broadway, this is a brilliant, creative, wonderful show with some touching, uncomfortable moments. It’s interesting that I usually look for a Jewish connection for this column, and with Spelling Bee I found that almost the entire creative crew, from director James Lepine through William Finn, composer and lyricist, are Jewish. This Tony Award-winning musical runs from May 8 through May 20 for 16 performances. Tickets are available by calling MetroTix at 314-534-1111, online at www.metrotix.com or at the Fox Theatre box office.

A Louise Nevelson retrospective opens May 5 at the Jewish Museum in New York and will be there until Sept. 16, just in case any of you plan on being in the Big Apple during the summer. A major feature of the show will be “Dawn’s Wedding Feast”, an all-white room-size installation made in 1959 for a show at the Museum of Modern Art. Over the years bits and pieces of the sculpture have been dispersed and have ended up in private collections and museums. This is the first time it will have been reassembled since a Nevelson show at the Whitney Museum of American Art 27 years ago. At the Jewish Museum’s show, Nevelson works will come from private collections and twelve major museums. From New York, the show travels to the deYoung, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Fransisco, so if you can’t see it on the East Coast you might try to catch it on the West Coast.