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Saturday, September 20, 2014

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Comedy brings observant guy and secular gal together

Tags: Arts
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Jesse Nerenberg as Aaron and Jada Rifkin as Eleanor in Can I Really Dte a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?

Can a secular, atheist Jew fall in love with an observant Jew? This is at the heart of Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke?, a fast-paced comedy by New York playwright Amy Holson-Schwartz.

The show, presented by Teatron Theatre, runs at the Studio Theatre at the Toronto Centre for the Arts from Feb. 29 to March 11.

The play, which premièred in New York City last year, draws from the life of the writer Holson-Schwartz, who is currently studying in London, England. Holson-Schwartz describes herself as a pretty committed Jewish atheist who’s pretty sure she’s supposed to be with a Jewish guy. 

Holson-Schwartz’s agent approached Teatron artistic director and founder Ari Weisberg with the script, and Weisberg loved it. 

“It is a romantic comedy that tells the story of young Jews today and their dilemmas and options,” Weisberg, who’s also the show’s director, said.

“In this particular case, we have Eleanor, a PhD candidate, who is 26 years old. Eleanor was raised as a very secular Jew, and is not sure how much Jewish identity she has or wants to have. She goes on Birthright and comes back very disappointed because of her angst vis-a-vis Judaism.”  

When she comes back from her Birthright trip, she is introduced to Aaron, a nice, good-looking doctor who is observant. “So here is the crux of the matter, Weisberg said. “The two are trying to breach their differences because they do enjoy each other’s company and they love each other.”

The Toronto-based cast of six includes Jada Rifkin – no stranger to Teatron – as Eleanor and Jesse Nerenberg, playing Aaron the doctor.  Rounding out the cast are Adrianna Prosser, Scott Leaver, and Teatron Theatre veterans Reva Lawry and Ron Boyd. 

Weisberg said people will not only be entertained by the show but also that audiences of all ages will relate to it. He feels it speaks to both the younger generation and to the more mature theatregoer, who may see their children and grandchildren experiencing similar situations.

 “What comes out at the end of the play is that different people have their own way of reaching their goal of being Jewish. As long as you can be open to different ways, we have ways to keep our people together. It is not just a Jewish theme, it is global and in all societies. If we are open to other people’s ideas and rituals, then the entire society will gain,” added Weisberg, who has been at the helm of Teatron Theatre, a company devoted to producing Jewish-themed plays, for nine seasons.

Tickets at www.teatrontheatre.com, 416-781-5527 or at the Toronto Centre for the Arts box office.

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