Theater J to Welcome Home Audiences for its 2019-2020 Season

Newly renovated historic building on 16th Street reopens this summer with an international new musical, DC premieres, and a remounted hit play

Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr and Managing Director Jojo Ruf announce Theater J’s 2019-2020 season, welcoming home audiences to a beautiful and refreshed theater located in the newly renovated Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center on 16th Street. The season includes four plays and one musical, all being produced for the first time in DC, as well as the triumphant return of a recent Theater J hit.

From an intoxicating new musical set in Tel Aviv based on the Song of Songs to the late-career masterpiece by multiple Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee, Theater J’s season celebrates journeys of every kind with a provocative and ambitious slate of plays. Of the six shows, three have future runs: two in New York City and one at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

“We’re thrilled to welcome our audience home to a warm and glowing Theater J inside a beautifully restored and refreshed Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center,” said Adam Immerwahr, Artistic Director. “2019-2020 promises to bring a season of entertaining, smart, funny plays that explore the Jewish experience and the universal human condition with passion, humor, and delight. Welcome home to a season filled with music and heart, that will lift you up and keep you soaring. Welcome home to a season of art that reminds you who you are and where you belong.”

The season launches with the new musical Love Sick, a unique collaboration among internationally-acclaimed Israeli artist Ofra Daniel, celebrated Palestinian musician Ali Paris, and Tony and Olivier Award-nominated director Christopher Renshaw. A musical adaptation of the Song of Songs, some of the most passionate and sensual love poetry ever written, Love Sick received the 2017 Glickman Award for the best new play, and the Theater J production will transfer to a commercial run in New York. Next is Edward Albee’s Occupant, a late work by one of the great playwrights of the 20th century, about his dear friend, the gifted and acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson. This DC premiere brings together the talents of Helen Hayes Award-winning artists director Aaron Posner and actress Susan Rome as Nevelson. The season continues with the second production of Sheltered by Alix Sobler, an award-winning emerging playwright whose works have been seen throughout Canada. This suspenseful and intriguing play about one couple’s journey to save lives will be directed by Immerwahr and stars Helen Hayes Award winners Kimberly Gilbert and Erin Weaver.

2020 continues with the DC premiere of Anna Ziegler’s The Wanderers, which will subsequently be produced in New York. This is the fourth play of Ziegler’s that Theater J has produced, and this poetic modern love story of what we pass on from generation to generation will be directed by Amber Paige McGinnis. Next is the return of the Theater J hit from the 2017-2018 season: Becoming Dr. Ruth, Naomi Jacobson’s Helen Hayes-nominated performance, under the direction of Holly Twyford, of America’s favorite sex therapist. The production moves to Cincinnati Playhouse immediately following its run at Theater J. The season culminates with the new drama Compulsion, or the House Behind by Rinne Groff and directed by Johanna Gruenhut (Actually). Paul Morella stars as a forgotten writer obsessed with The Diary of Anne Frank in a provocative story of passion, show business, and the powerful forces of the market.

Audiences will return to the historic building of the Edlavitch DCJCC in the fall of 2019 to enjoy a renovated Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater, a new ticket office, improved accessibility features, and an enhanced overall theater-going experience. Theater J will continue having readings in its Yiddish Theater Lab and continue offering Classes for Theater Lovers, taught by Immerwahr and Ruf.

Theater J’s 2019-2020 Season

LOVE SICK

Written and adapted by Ofra Daniel
Music by Ofra Daniel and Lior Ben-Hur
Directed by Christopher Renshaw
September 4 – 29, 2019

From an extraordinary collaboration of international artists comes Love Sick, the critically acclaimed new musical that fuses a thrilling original score, Middle Eastern harmonics, dazzling choreography, and an inspired story of passion and awakening. Based on The Song of SongsLove Sick tells the story a young wife in a lifeless marriage who discovers she has a secret admirer. Intrigued, she begins a mysterious and fervent affair, finding herself on a dizzying journey of sexual and personal empowerment. Hailed as “extraordinary…lush…full of surprises” (San Francisco Chronicle), Love Sick’s creative team includes Olivier and Tony Award nominee Christopher Renshaw, internationally-acclaimed Israeli actress/writer Ofra Daniel, and celebrated Palestinian musician Ali Paris.

EDWARD ALBEE’S
OCCUPANT

Directed by Aaron Posner
November 7 – December 8, 2019

Facts are in dispute and words are in question in this late-career masterpiece by multiple Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia WoolfA Delicate Balance). A little Jewish girl from Russia immigrated to the US and became the renowned sculptor Louise Nevelson. In Albee’s Occupant, she’s been invited to participate in an interview—from beyond the grave. Through her ups and downs, her contradictions and evasions, Albee charts the deep inner turmoil and intrepid triumphs of one of the 20th century’s greatest artistic minds. Directed by Aaron Posner and starring Theater J favorite Susan Rome, this surprising, touching, and delicious play is an unabashed exploration of how a pioneer for free-thinking women everywhere found her voice.

SHELTERED

By Alix Sobler
Directed by Adam Immerwahr
January 9 – February 2, 2020

It is 1939, and Hitler’s assault has begun. Though much of the world has turned its back on the Jews of Europe, Evelyn and Leonard Kirsch suspect that the menace is real. This ordinary American couple makes an extraordinary decision that could save the lives of many Jewish children and change the course of history. But first, they must convince their estranged friends to join them in their venture. What begins as a night of cocktails and conversation among neighbors becomes a tense negotiation of politics, morality, and survival – and the stakes are no less than life and death. A suspenseful story that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Featuring Kimberly Gilbert, Alexander Strain, and Erin Weaver.

THE WANDERERS

Written by Anna Ziegler
Directed by Amber Paige McGinnis
February 19 – March 15, 2020

Esther and Schmuli are Satmar Hasidic Jews embarking on an arranged marriage, despite barely knowing each other. Abe and Julia are high-profile celebrities embarking on a dangerously flirtatious correspondence, despite being married to other people. On the surface, the lives of these two couples couldn’t be more different; but the hidden connections between these seemingly disparate people draw the audience into an intriguing puzzle and a deeply sympathetic look at modern love. From the award-winning writer of Photograph 51 and Actually comes this funny, insightful, and moving new play.

BECOMING DR. RUTH

Written by Mark St. Germain
Directed by Holly Twyford
March 27 – April 19, 2020

America’s favorite sex therapist is back! Before she became Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Karola Siegel had to flee Germany in the Kindertransport, become a sniper in Jerusalem, and survive as a single mother in America. Naomi Jacobson, who earned a Helen Hayes Award nomination for the role, returns to Theater J for an unforgettable, heart-warming evening of theater. “Jacobson’s got the Westheimer verve” hailed The Washington Post. Under Holly Twyford’s inventive direction, this was a must-see show of the 2017-2018 DC theater season. Don’t miss the return of this triumphant and life-affirming story of a girl who found her own unique place in the world.

COMPULSION
OR
THE HOUSE BEHIND

Written by Rinne Groff
Directed by Johanna Gruenhut
June 5 – 28, 2020

Sid Silver is a man obsessed. When he learns about a young girl named Anne Frank and her diary, Silver makes it his mission to ensure her tale is heard. But is the manuscript a work of art? A cultural treasure? Or simply a valuable product? As he fights for the diary’s publication and the rights to adapt it into a play, Silver’s idealism turns to fanaticism, and his good intentions may prove to be his undoing. A fascinating, semi-fictional story about one forgotten writer’s battle for one extraordinary girl’s diary. Featuring Laura C. Harris and Paul Morella.

PURCHASING TICKETS: Subscription ticket packages go on sale March 19. Single tickets go on sale July 15. Please call our box office at 202-777-3210 or visit www.theaterj.org

For discounts for groups of 10+ call (202) 777-3210 or email Brian@theaterj.org

Theater J is a nationally-renowned, professional theater that celebrates, explores and struggles with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. Our work illuminates and examines ethical questions of our time, inter-cultural experiences that parallel our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the nation’s largest and most prominent Jewish theater, we aim to preserve and expand a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theater-going experiences.

Edlavitch DCJCC embraces inclusion in all its programs and activities. We welcome and encourage the participation of all people, regardless of their background, sexual orientation, abilities, or religion, including interfaith couples and families.

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