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The Sisters Rosensweig

The Sisters Rosensweig

by Wendy Wasserstein

September 25 - October 21, 2012

Nominated for 5 Tony Awards, Wasserstein’s thoughtful and hilarious family drama reunites three Jewish-American sisters in London to celebrate the birthday of the eldest, Sara. Between unexpected chances at love and managing Sara’s teenage daughter, the three sisters look to have it all, but can’t quite keep from tripping over their family baggage. A captivating portrait of three uncommon women coming to terms with their differences, respect, and love for one another.

Illustration by: Jamie Hogan

Running time: 2 hours, 45 min - including a 15 minute intermission.

 

 
September 25, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
September 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
September 27, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
September 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
September 29, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Parking & Directions
September 29, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Parking & Directions
September 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 3, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 4, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 5, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 6, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 7, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 11, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 13, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 16, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 17, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 18, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 18, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Parking & Directions
October 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 20, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Parking & Directions
October 21, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Parking & Directions

Biddeford Journal Tribune

THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG
Review by Greg Morell


The very first thing that greets audiences attending Portland Stage's set. It's the opulent interior of a London penthouse, the setting for THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG.

There are three Rosensweig sisters: Sara, Gorgeous, and Pfeni. The three sisters grew up in a traditional Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York under the thumb of a powerful Jewish mother. However, each sister has followed a drastically different life path.

Sara is a very successful banker, now divorced, and living in London with her teen aged daughter. Sara is about to celebrate her 54th Birthday by throwing a dinner party for her sisters and their invited guests in her luxurious London apartment  where all the play's action takes place. She is preparing a sumptuous dinner highlighted by her signature cassoulet. She is a great cook, blessed with good looks, a fine figure, and an incisive intelligence. However, she is a bitter
woman, cold and calculating, with a sharp tongue.

Her youngest sister, Pfeni, is a globetrotting travel writer with a penchant for solving the injustices of the world. As the play opens, she flies in from one of her missions in foreign lands to celebrate her sister's birthday weekend.

The middle sister, oddly named Gorgeous, is a Jewish housewife from Newton, MA, married to a lawyer and devoted to her rabbi, who she never tires of quoting. She's loud, brash, and a bit trashy-but she's the life of the party. A constant source of humor and energy, she's addicted to food, shopping, and shoes.

The three sisters share a  deep affection for one another, yet they are in continual conflict and  consternation. This clash of sniping siblings is the central core of the play. But adding to the chaos and clamor is a hyper-kinetic bisexual theater director enjoying a whirlwind affair with the youngest sister, Pfeni, when she is not galavanting around the third world.

Pfeni's flamboyant theater director treats us to a wacky dance in his tidy-whitey BVD's as he sings Motown classics at 6 o'clock in the morning. He brings with him to the  birthday dinner his colleague, Mervyn, a Jewish furrier from New York. Mervin is a middle aged dumpling of a man yearning for love and making a concerted effort to win the attention and interest ofSara.

Additionally, Sara's teen aged daughter is having an affair with a rowdy British punk sporting a ridiculously spiked mohawk hairdo and an equally ridiculous plan to participate in a political revolution in Lithuania.

The overall acting of the ensemble is polished, the dialog is fast and crisp. The convoluted intersection of relationships is interesting and thought-provoking as the characters are challenged to come to terms with their heritage and their own personal foibles.

A stand-out performance is delivered by Carole Healey as Gorgeous, the middle sister from Newton. After the heel breaks on her newly purchased $400 shoes she launches into a long diatribe that regales us with the story of the breaking her shoe along with the breaking of her marriage and her seemingly comfortable life in Massachusetts.

Also noteworthy are the comic machinations of  William Zielenski as the outrageous and genial theater director, which provide a hearty and welcomed zest to the production.

An important thematic in the show is the development of the relationship between Mervyn, the New York furrier and the twice divorced Sara as she comes to terms with her history and heritage. Credibility is stretched at how such an accomplished woman could fall for such a matzo ball of a man.

The play was written by Wendy Wasserstein and first opened in 1990. It was the first play composed after her Pulitzer Prize winning "Heidi Chronicles. Much of "The Sisters Rosensweig" is reflective of her own personal history.

THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG  continues through October 21.


September 29 

Review: 'Sisters Rosensweig' has fun exploring issues

By STEVE FEENEY

Wendy Wasserstein's "The Sisters Rosensweig," which opened the 39th season for the Portland Stage Company with purpose on Friday night, is a play that almost has too much in it.

Threads of social, historical, political, economic, religious, ethnic, gender, literary and other issues are woven through the 1992 play's fabric. If all that seems daunting, the play's generous strands of comedy and warm emotions are there to provide relief.

Wasserstein was exceptionally good at combining the serious and the silly in her writings throughout her all-too-brief career (she died at age 55). She used some of the basics of her own life -- being single, Jewish, well-educated, cultured and a feminist -- as well as the events of her time to create theater pieces in which likable characters, particularly female characters, try to make sense of their lives.

The author acknowledged a debt to Chekhov with this play, but her love of classic Broadway theater also comes through clearly here, under the direction of Chris Grabowski.

Though they enjoy many material comforts (the play takes place in an upscale London home), the sisters of this show long for "hope and rebirth" even as they fiercely defend themselves against criticisms of what they've accomplished so far. There's a lot of give and take about whether their Jewish-American heritage is a help or a hindrance to them in a changing world, as well as debates about what they should be willing to sacrifice for emotional security.

Played by Amy McDonald, Sara, whose 54th birthday is the occasion for the gathering of her siblings and their friends, is smart and successful in the man's world of international banking. She resists the advances of guest Mervyn, played by John Plumpis, a fast-talking furrier with a sensitive heart.

Sister Pfeni, a writer and self-styled "wandering Jew" played by D'Arcy Dersham, longs for the flamboyant Geoffrey, played by William Zielinski.

And Gorgeous, the seemingly least complicated sister, played by Carole Healey, wants to be respected for sticking closest to their mother's ideal of the traditionally successful woman.

McDonald employed the tough, "hard woman" tone of the mover and shaker she was playing at Friday's performance. When she softened a bit at the end, the contrast added to an appreciation of what had gone before.

Dersham inhabited her "eccentric" character more easily and offered a number of fine acting touches when not speaking. Her Pfeni seemed real in a way that her sisters sometimes did not.

Healey was a comedic hoot as the sweetheart who chases taste while always searching for just a "moment of pure, unadulterated happiness."

Ron Botting and Michael Dix Thomas round out the male cast as quaint (each in his own way) Britishers who ultimately don't quite fit with the Rosensweig clan.

Megan Dorn, as Sara's college-age daughter, sums up the play's most serious question about whether her family is destined to be made up of "people who will always be watching and never belong."

Maybe, but they are fun to watch and think about in this impressive production of a very well-wrought play.
 

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

 

 

 

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006), was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, the youngest of five children. As a young woman, Wasserstein remembered going to the theater and wondering where all the girls were; a question that would inspire a lifetime of writing. Her first play Any Woman Can’t was produced off-Broadway in 1973, followed by her breakout work Uncommon Women and Others in 1977. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1990 for The Heidi Chronicles, a play which also won a Tony Award and a New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Wasserstein was a groundbreaking feminist playwright who used her work to explore women’s relationships to each other; as well as to religion, politics, ethnicity, economics, and, of course, men. Andre Bishop, Artistic Director of Lincoln Center Theater said of her, “In Wendy's plays women saw themselves portrayed in a way they hadn't been — wittily, intelligently and seriously at the same time. …it was not the case 25 years ago. She was a real pioneer.” Wasserstein passed away from cancer at the age of 55. Portland Stage has previously produced her play Third in 2009, directed by Paul Mullins. 

ABOUT THE CAST

Ron Botting (Nicholas Pym) In 1978 while teaching for Jack Romano at Stage Door Manor, Ron began working with composers Keith Levenson and Tony nominee Jeanine Tesori on The City Suite at The Westside Arts Theatre and on several musicals produced by Shami McCormick at The Depot Theatre in Westport, NY.  In NYC Ron has acted at the Obie Award winning Jean Cocteau Rep for Robert Hupp, Ohio Theatre, Tiny Mythic Theatre, HERE, St. Clements Theatre, Primary Stages, in play readings for the NY Theatre Workshop, and most recently appeared at the Cherry Lane Theatre for FringeNYC.  A devoted student of Kristin Linklater, Ron also studied with Tina Packer at Shakespeare & Co. where he was deeply influenced by choreographer Susan Dibble and Clown Master Merry Conway.  At Maine State Music Theatre Ron worked with Donna Drake on Aida and Chuck Abbott on South Pacific and Camelot.  Since 1996 Ron has been an affiliate artist at Portland Stage working with Tony Award winning director Bart Sher on productions of Romeo & Juliet and Scapin and most recently Ron appeared in last season's world premier of Raymond Chandler's Trouble is My Business.

 

D'Arcy Dersham (Pfeni Rosensweig) is thrilled to be working at Portland Stage for the first time. Work at other theaters includes: The Syringa Tree, Absurd Person Singular, Homebody/Kabul, The Skin of our Teeth, Dinner with Friends, A Christmas Carol, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors (Trinity Repertory Company); Body Awareness, Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater); Lazarus Disposed, 1:23, Falling Up (Perishable Theatre); A Bright Room Called Day, Amadeus, King Stag (Elemental Theatre Collective); The Grapes of Wrath (The Gamm); Hotline, To Kill a Mockingbird, Irene's Riff (The Vineyard Playhouse). A graduate of Trinity Rep Conservatory's M.F.A. Acting program, D'Arcy also holds a B.A. in Dramatic Lit from Oberlin College, and studied physical theater under Jacques Lecoq at L'École Internationale de Théâtre in Paris. She teaches Speech at the Brown University/Trinity Rep M.F.A. Program, and is a member of Elemental Theatre Collective, a group of actors, playwrights and directors producing original work together since 2004.   

 

Megan Dorn (Tess Goode) Portland Stage Debut! Megan is thrilled to be a part of this production! Credits include the Los Angeles premiere of Parade (Iola Stover), the west coast premiere of Jerome Kern's Zip! Goes a Million (Peggy Grey), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Marcy Park), Closer (Alice Ayres), Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Marina), Rent (Mrs. Cohen/ensemble) and Hair (Crissy). Megan was also involved in the creation, development and performance of the original play Necessary Monsters. B.F.A. Boston Conservatory. Many thanks to my family, and to the entire Bagala family.

 

Carole Healey (Gorgeous Teitelbaum) has acted at most of the major regional theatres in the country including; The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Hannah Jarvis in Arcadia, Jacquenetta in Loves Labors Lost ), Missouri Repertory Theatre (Ruth in Blithe Spirit), The Utah Shakespeare Festival, company member for 12 seasons (Lady Macbeth, Portia in Julius Caesar, Kate in Taming of the Shrew, Regan in King Lear, Golda in Fiddler on the Roof, Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest and many others.) The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, company member for three years (Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream, Elvira in Blithe Spirit), Southwest Shakespeare (Lady Macbeth, Kate in Taming of the Shrew), Great Lakes Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Theatreworks (CA), Kingshead Theatre (London), Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Olney Theatre Center, The Cape Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public and many others. Television and Film: Law and Order, The Guiding Light, The Understudy. Ms. Healey received her MFA from the Professional Theatre Training Program at The University of Delaware.


Amy McDonald (Sara Goode) is appearing for the first time at Portland Stage.  She has recently returned to NYC after spending many years in Minneapolis where she was busy raising her son, acting and teaching acting. She has acted on many stages including; The Guthrie Theater, The Jungle Theater, The Illusion Theater, The Cricket Theater, Williamstown Theater Fest, Indiana Rep, The Second Stage, Sacramento Theater Company, Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Caldwell Theater Company, Woodstock Theater Company, The Mixed Blood Theater, Harbor Light Stage, The History Theater, The Hidden Theater and Workhaus Collective. She is a company member of Thirst Theater in Minneapolis. Film credits; Joe Somebody, Autistic License. T.V. credits; As the World Turns, Guiding Light.  She was a faculty member at The Guthrie Theater's Education Department and at St Paul Conservatory for the Performing Artist. She holds a Bachelor of Music from The University of Iowa and an MFA in Acting from NYU.

 

John Plumpis (Mervyn Kant) In October John will appear as John Barrymore's prompter in the two-actor film Barrymore starring Christopher Plummer.  The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. He and Mr. Plummer toured the play across the US and Canada following its Broadway run in 1998, and reunited for a Toronto revival in the winter of 2011. Most recently John spent his summer playing Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at North Carolina's Flat Rock Playhouse.  National companies:  Five years as Timon in The Lion King; Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor. New York:  The Actors' Company Theatre (company member, 19 productions); Roundabout; Playwrights Horizons; Primary Stages; The Mint; The Lark, Repertorio Espanol. Regional:  Yale Rep; Shakespeare Theatre Company, DC; Portland Center Stage; Paper Mill Playhouse; Cleveland Playhouse; Maltz Jupiter; University of Delaware REP, Mason Street Warehouse; Missouri Rep; PlayMakers Rep; Shakespeare festivals nationwide. Training:  MFA, University of Delaware.  Teaching:  Over 50 colleges and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals.  Some of his thoughts on Theatre have even been published ... Go figure.

Michael Dix Thomas (Tom Valiunus) is thrilled to be making his main stage debut with Portland Stage. Previously he has performed at PSC in The Little Festival of the Unexpected, and in The Maids, produced by the Intern Company. He has appeared recently with Lorem Ipsum (Ubu Roi, Blood Wedding, The Pageant Wagon Play, The Threepenny Opera, Ghosts, and Weeping & Blubbering), Ziggurat Theater Ensemble (Aquitania), Fenix Theater (Love's Labors Lost), Mad Horse Theatre Co. (Six Degrees of Separation), AIRE Theater (Brendan), and Kill Mike Theater (Henry V.). Michael is a founding member of Lorem Ipsum, Kill Mike Theater, and PortFringe and he currently resides in Portland.

William Zielinski (Geoffrey Duncan) Bill is thrilled to be making his début with Portland Stage. Regional Theatre includes: The Seagull Quintessence Theatre, The Lieutenant Of Inishmore Theatre Exile, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Peoples Light And Theatre Company, Shining City Theatre Exile, Eventide, The Denver Center Theatre, The Seafarer, Arden Theatre Company, Arsenic And Old Lace Baltimore Center Stage, and To Kill A Mockingbird Virginia Stage Company. Film and TV: Do No Harm (NBC), The Wire (HBO), Future Weather, Night Catches Us, The Lovely Bones, Flikken Maastricht (for Dutch TV), and Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell. At any given moment, Bill can be found living in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, or Amsterdam.

 

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION TEAM

Chris Grabowski (Director) has been a frequent collaborator with Portland Stage, having previously directed Ellen McLaughlin's Iphegenia and Other Daughters, Brian Silberman's Manifest, Donald Margulies Collected Stories (with Kristen Linklater), Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, and most recently Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep. Other credits include directing and writing A Forest in Arden, Leo Bassi's C Colombo Inc, and George Walker's Love and Anger, all for New York Theater Workshop where he was also Associate Artistic Director. Also in New York he has directed off-off Broadway, and has directed at the Juilliard School, NYU Tisch School of the Arts and the Stella Adler Conservatory. Chris has worked regionally at the Yale Repertory Theater, The Denver Center, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz among others.  He is a frequent guest director for the Academy for Classical Acting, a joint venture of the Shakespeare Theater of Washington and The George Washington University, where he specializes in the plays of the Jacobean era.  Chris is a Professor of Drama at Vassar College where he has been Chair of the Drama Department and Director of the Experimental Theater, for which he has directed 33 productions. 

Anita Stewart (Set Designer) has worked as a set and costume designer at leading theatres across the country, including: the Guthrie, Seattle Rep, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, A.R.T., Steppenwolf, Hartford Stage, Dallas Theater Center, Long Wharf Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, Boise Contemporary Theater, New Jersey Shakespeare and Portland Stage Company. Anita's desire to play a meaningful role as an artist in a specific community brought her to Portland Stage Company in Maine as Artistic Director, a company for which she had previously done significant freelance design.

B. Christine McDowell (Costume Designer) has spent the last twenty years involved in professional and academic theatre, including teaching/design positions at The University of South Florida, The College of William and Mary, and SUNY New Paltz; currently she is the faculty costume and set designer at Bates College.  After completing an MFA at the Yale School of Drama she began her regional design career, including 5 years as the resident designer for The Virginia Shakespeare Festival, shows at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, SoHo Rep and other New York off-off Broadway shows, and summer stock productions in the Hudson Valley.  Christine also spent four years touring internationally as a staff member for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and a year working as a freelance costume professional in London for various West End and European companies. Most recently she has been the resident designer for Shakespeare South Africa, a touring company that visits communities in The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where Shakespeare is a rare commodity. Her next international endeavor will be designing and conducting workshops in Colombo, Sri Lanka this December. Christine would especially like to thank Anita Stewart and Chris Grabowski for this pleasant and somewhat unexpected reunion and chance to work at Portland Stage.

Stephen C. Jones (Lighting & Sound Designer) Design credits include Sacramento Ballet, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Alley theatre, B Street theatre, Capital Stage Theatre Company, Sting and Honey, Sacramento Theatre Company, and Foothill Theatre Company. He also works as a theatre consultant, specializing in the renovation of historic performance spaces and houses of worship. Stephen did his graduate work in theatre design at the University of Houston. He serves as the assistant professor in the drama department at Vassar college where he teaches design.

Myles C. Hatch (Stage Manager) is currently enjoying his 13th season stage-managing with Portland Stage. During the past twenty two years, Myles has worked in stage management with such diversified theatres as The Freeport Shakespeare Festival (ME), Maine State Music Theatre (ME), The Theater at Monmouth (ME), Arden Theatre Company (PA), Baltimore Shakespeare Festival (MD), Everyman Theatre (MD), Rep Stage (MD), Horse Cave Theatre (KY), New Stage Theatre (MS), Round House Theatre (MD), Source Theatre Company (D.C.), Washington Stage Guild (D.C.), Washington Jewish Theatre (D.C.), Asolo Theatre Company (FL), Westport Country Playhouse (CT), and the YALE Summer Cabaret (CT). Myles will next stage-manage A Christmas Carol here at Portland Stage. Myles is a member of the Actors' Equity Association.


2013-2014
SEASON

 

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
by August Wilson
SEP 24 - OCT 20, 2013


Vigil
by Morris Panych
OCT 29 - NOV 17, 2013


Santaland Diaries
by David Sedaris
Dec 3 - DEC 22, 2013
In the Studio Theater

A Christmas Carol
by Hans Christian Andersen
NOV 29 - DEC 22, 2013


Trouble Is My Business

by Joseph Vass
JAN 21 - FEB 16, 2014

Veils
WORLD PREMIERE
by Tom Coash

FEB 25 - MAR 16, 2014


Tribes
by Nina Raine
MAR 25 - APR 13, 2014

The Savannah Disputation
by Evan Smith
APR 22 - MAY 18, 2014