New Jewish Theatre’s 20th season includes two revivals of past audience favorites

NJT will revisit ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ in its 2016-2017 season.  NJT last staged the play in 2005. Pictured from the 2005 production are (from left) Diane Peterson, Dennis Lebby and Gary Wayne Barker. File photo: Lisa Mandel

To celebrate its upcoming milestone 20th anniversay season, the New Jewish Theatre will revive two of its most popular shows from the past in 2016-2017.

The season opens Oct. 6 to 30 with the William Gibson blockbuster, “Golda’s Balcony,” directed by Henry Schvey. The one-woman play originally featured Tovah Feldshuh who won a Drama Desk award and was nominated for a Tony Award. It follows the trajectory of the life of Golda Meir from Russian immigrant to American  school teacher to Prime Minister of Israel. Much of the play’s focus is on the defining moment of her public life surrounding the disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War. While suggesting that Meir threatened Nixon and Kissinger with unleashing nuclear weapons if the United States failed to come through with military support for Israel, it shows the struggle between the ideals that lead one to power, and the pragmatic compromises demanded by actual leadership as it asks, “What happens when idealism becomes power?”

From Dec. 3 to 20, NJT will revive Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize winner, “Driving Miss Daisy.” Beginning in 1948, it follows the 25-year relationship of rich, sharp-tongued Daisy Werthan, a 72-year-old Jewish widow in Atlanta and Hoke Colburn, the driver her son Boolie has hired (against her strong protestations) after she has demolished yet another car. Daisy initially regards him with disdain and he is not impressed with her patronizing tone and latent prejudice. We watch as they grow closer over time and the once contentious relationship blossoms into a profound life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries placed between them. Shanara Gabrielle will direct the production featuring NJT Artistic Director Kathleen Sitzer as Daisy and J. Samuel Davis as Hoke. 

The season’s third production (Jan. 26 — Feb. 11), Lynn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel,” is a love story, but not the kind one typically sees. Set in New York in 1905, the audience finds Esther, a black seamstress who lives in a boarding house where she sews intimate apparel for clients ranging from wealthy white patrons to prostitutes. She is longing to end her loneliness.  But even as she begins a correspondence from a lonesome Caribbean man working on the Panama Canal, her heart seems to lie with the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, and his heart with her. Yet the impossibility of the match is obvious to them both. The play offers poignant commentary on a very different era in America. Gary Wayne Barker will direct the production.

Another NJT revival arrives March 16 through April 2. One of the most popular plays NJT has staged, John Logan’s “Never the Sinner” returns in a production directed by Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis’ Artistic Director, Rick Dildine. The play tells the story of the infamous 1924 Leopold/Loeb “Trial of the Century” as Clarence Darrow defends the two entitled young men in the horrific murder of young Bobby Franks. Viewers learn how the two decided to commit the “perfect murder,” just for the thrill of it. Considering themselves Nietzsche’s übermensch (supermen), they concluded they were removed from the moral and social imperatives of the world and proceeded to brutally murder young Franks. Exploring what demons lurked in the minds of these two young men, the play also explores the complex relationship between them.

The season closes with Amy Herzog’s “4000 Miles,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2013. The play, directed by NJT Artistic Associate Edward Coffield runs May 11 to 28. It is a compassionate, intimate and frequently funny play that examines the love of “the family we can choose, the family we can’t, and the healing power of trust.” In this deeply affecting dual-character study, we meet 21-year-old Leo who after suffering a major loss while on a cross-country bike trip, seeks solace from his feisty 91-year-old political activist grandmother Vera in her West Village apartment. Her solitary existence is entirely shaken when Leo appears at the door in the middle of the night. While Leo seeks solace in his grandmother, Vera finds companionship in another person for the first time since the loss of her husband, Joe. As the two ultimately reach each other we discover how two outsiders find their way in today’s world.

Season tickets are now available for the five productions at the same prices as the current season, $170 for Jewish Community Center members and $180 general admission.  NJT also is offering partial subscriptions for the season. Order season tickets online at or call the NJT box office at 314-442-3283. Single tickets will be available beginning Aug. 15 for all shows through the box office or online at