Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The December Rabbi"

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entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"The December Rabbi"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Daydream Theatre Company is the world premiere of an original show by Leonard Xavier Roberts Schwartz called "The December Rabbi". The show is about Benjamin Silverman, a rabbinical student, who finds out what life would be without him in it. It turns out everyone is better off.( Sounds a bit like "It's a Wonderful Life" with many comic twists and turns along the way.) What follows is a comedy about friendship, disco clubs, circumcisions, coexisting, and love. Lenny not only wrote the show but directs it beautifully, too. He has a keen eye for comic situations, having reviewed his ninth show about comic book creators and their trials and tribulations coming to life in "Kung Fu Babies" back in 2002. He says "There aren't too many holiday shows that celebrate Hanukkah. The play isn't the same tried and true story. It's a holiday show from a different perspective than we are used to." Lenny chooses 13 high energy performers who dazzle you with their talent, slapstick and shtick, producing a laugh riot with their crazy and outrageous antics.

Lenny is a talented young writer who has been writing and producing plays for his theatre company for 10 years. He keeps the show in constant motion without any down time in it at all. The scenes move back and forth through time so you can see Ben as an adult and at various ages. Stage manager Jeni Hayden keeps things running smoothly all night long. It opens with a briss and whether it is successful or not. Leading this cast of wonderful character actors is Ian Sauvageau who plays Ben as an adult. He delivers the goods as this young man in love with a girl of a different faith. Ben feels unloved by his parents who never bought him Spiderman underoos. The play explores the ramifications of such a romance since Cindy is of another faith and that is forbidden by the Jewish religion. The voiceover compares being a rabbi to a ninja. The show reveals that sometimes faith comes from places you least expect it to. His brother Paul plays young Ben marvelously. He uses different pitches to his voice to portray Ben at his different ages. He first appears at 5 when he tells the folks he wants to be a Rabbi when he grows up. Maryssa Ann Morse, a gorgeous brunette, plays Ben's love interest Cindy as an adult. (She is originally from Pawtucket,RI and flew in from Los Angeles on November 28 to be in the show.) She is a strong actress who has wonderful comic timing and she shines in her many scenes. Vanessa Blanchette plays young Cindy and in this segment of the show you learn December Rabbi and Potato Latke girl are comic book hero names they chose when Ben was beaten up by some bullies in fourth grade. who will defend them against. This show has something for everybody this holiday season no matter what religion or ethnicity. Maryssa's mother, Barbara Morse Silva who is Channel 10 health reporter plays the role of Ben's mother and she and Robert Reynolds as his father are hilarious with their many funny lines and one scene where they are making love on the sofa is a hoot. One of her funniest lines is when she tells Ben that since he is a political science major, he will soon be a polygamist. The important lesson she gives to Ben is when she explains the world isn't perfect and that love is what matters.

The whole cast do topnotch work in their roles. Not wanting to give away too much, I will give a brief description of them. Another funny character is the Mohel played by Christopher Ferreira who is conceited and confident in all he does. He struts about as a superhero type who is always putting Ben down. One of his funniest lines is when he says he ate a BLT on an osagio cheese roll and breaks down in tears. Rabbi Savage played by Ron Golinger in the scene in his underwear is a laugh out loud moment and he continually acts cool with funny phrases. He also tells Ben that Cindy will have to give up Lent and Narnia. Matt D'Oliveira plays Jeff , a mysterious figure who gets slapped around by Cindy's masochistic friend Wendy played wonderfully by Tara Gray who pulls a knife on Ben the first time she meets him. Matt wears platform shoes that light up on his date with Wendy and he spins a magic dreidel in the second act that helps decide Ben's fate. Sexy Tai Bacani plays Helen, Cindy's mother who likes to grab men's asses. She has a comic dancing scene with Rabbi Savage, Pretty blond Danielle Bouchard plays a guidance counselor who continually steals money from young Ben until Cindy makes her realize she is unworthy of her position. Danielle also plays Tovah who hooks up with Wendy in a briss scene. The unique angel is played by Jill Belanger. Make sure you catch Lenny's show at Bell Street Chapel where I attended Nursery School many years ago when I was 4 and 5 years old. You will laugh yourself silly all night long with the world premiere of a unique show by a very talented writer. (Congrats to Lenny and his wife on the birth of their beautiful daughter, Callie.)The audience is treated to free coffee and pastries with all proceeds going to Bell Street to help them out this holiday season.

"The December Rabbi" (3 - 5 December)
DAYDREAM THEATRE COMPANY
@ Bell Street Chapel, 5 Bell Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401) 290-7865

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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