773’s Generations

I went to Opening Night of Stage 773’s new production of From Generation to Generation with hopes high.  This is just my kind of thing, but alas, it’s not quite ready for prime time.

Generation is the story of “Rose Lieberman,” a feisty Jewish widow who’s in the midst of chemotherapy when she learns that her only daughter, after years of trying, is finally pregnant.  Rose shares her deepest fear with her Rabbi (Will I live long enough to meet this already treasured granddaughter?), & he convinces her to record an Ethical Will.

Most of the plot revolves around Rose telling her story “into a tape recorder,” punctuated by visits (from family members & friends both living & dead) which interrupt her reveries.  Some of this is terrifically heart-felt, but way too much is shtick or worse.

And all too often Rose herself is lost in the on-stage happenings when her own unique story becomes an excuse for didactic lessons about the entire history of 20th Century Jewry.  For example, there’s a totally misplaced duet called “Soldier Song,” in which Rose’s son-in-law “Elliot” sings about Watergate and Vietnam, while her dead nephew “Herschel” (in a very green & well-pressed Zahal uniform) sings about sacrificing his life for Israel.  Oy! 

On the otherhand, there’s a genuinely funny number in which Rose and her buddies pay tribute to Golda Meir by dancing around in baggy dresses topped by wigs with buns.  It’s a hoot!

Susan Veronica Adler (who’s done some fine dramatic work in local productions of Pangs of the Messiah and Torch Song Trilogy) gives her all as Rose, but she simply doesn’t have enough to work with here.  Most of the women (daughter “Marsha,” BFF “Norma,” neighbors, etc) do well enough, but the male characters are all badly used.  The cast members who actually succeed best are the two youngest: Nicole Rudakova & Annamarie Schutt.  Their small parts are both well-crafted & well-performed.

Karen Sokolof Javitch wrote the music & lyrics, & co-wrote the book with Elaine Jabenis.  I suggest they keep polishing & try again in the future.  Meanwhile the current production closes 5/1/11.  Click HERE to purchase tickets online, or call the Box Office: 773.327.5252

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