NJT season opens with off-beat, wacky comedy, ‘End Days’

Imagine a play that has as its characters a contemporary Jewish family, a nerdy neighbor boy, physicist Stephen Hawking and Jesus. Welcome to the New Jewish Theatre’s first production of the 2011-12 Season, “End Days” by Deborah Zoe Laufer. It’s an irreverent comedy that opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 in the Wool Studio Theatre at the JCC’s Staenberg Family Complex.

Even the Jewish family in the play is offbeat. Set two years after the horrific events of 9/11, the play finds the Stein family suffering their own post-traumatic stress: Dad hasn’t been out of the house – or out of his pajamas – in two years, teenage daughter Rachel has gone Goth and Mom has become an evangelical waiting for the “Rapture.”

Who will save this family? Jesus? Stephen Hawking? Or Rachel’s awkward new classmate who shows up at their door in an Elvis jumpsuit?

To everyone’s surprise, the invasion of his big heart and blind optimism might be their best hope for a new beginning. Even with this lineup of eccentric characters, the play is both hilarious but poignantly redemptive.

A satirically dark comedy with a moral edge, “End Days is ultimately a story of family and faith, told with zany hilarity that asks us what we would hold most sacred if we knew the end was near.

Eric Little, Artistic Director of Echo Theatre, makes his NJT directorial debut with a cast that includes Nancy Bell, Roger Erb, Clayton Fox, Terry Meddows and Chelsea Serocke. The production runs from Sept. 8 – 25 with performances on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. with additional 7:30 p.m. performances on Sunday, Sept. 11 and 18.

Tickets are available online through the NJT website, www.newjewishtheatre.org or by calling the box office at 314-442-3283.