Performers rehearse Indecent at the Performing Arts Center

The Concord Players present INDECENT

By Andrea Roessler - Correspondent

Inspired by true events surrounding the 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture and by others as an act of traitorous libel, The Concord Players are pleased to present Indecent.

Pulitzer prize-winning Paula Vogel’s play is very topical for today’s world as it delves into love relationships, antisemitism, homophobia, the power of politics, and more while still providing light-hearted and comedic moments. Indecent opened on Broadway in 2017 to sensational reviews.

Indecent charts the history of an incendiary drama and the path of the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it. This historic piece of Yiddish theater played to thousands across the capitals of Europe before making its Broadway debut in 1923, only to be shut down on opening night by the vice squad because it was “indecent”.

Making their directorial debut on the Concord stage, Shira Helena Gitlin (they, them, theirs) is a Boston-based director, dramaturg, gender consultant, and musical theater enthusiast. Despite the serious themes of Indecent, Gitlin also manages to bring out the light in the play, accentuating the joy of community in the story and how important it is for people to support each other.

John Small of Concord plays Otto, the cultured and traditional, albeit cynical, Elder, among other roles. John moved to Concord in 1962 when his father, William Small, was hired as the principal of both Concord’s Willard & Ripley elementary schools. In 1999 John and his wife, Mary, moved back to Concord and after attending a performance of Little Women in 2002 he decided to start auditioning for his hometown theater company. Over the years John has appeared in the Concord-based Town Cow Theater Company and more than a dozen Concord Players’ productions.

Indecent 1 NoCrop
Performers rehearse Indecent at the Performing Arts Center

Dan Kelly plays Lemml, the Stage Manager – a country tailor who becomes the leader of the Yiddish Art Theatre of Lodz troupe who holds fast to his belief in the transformative power of performance. Dan is no stranger to Eastern Massachusetts community theater over the past thirty years. Despite his last name, Dan has Jewish ancestry and is especially proud, and humbled, to be appearing in this production.

Kate Beattie of Arlington plays the traditional and motherly Vera, and other roles. Kate is active with several community theaters and has Concord ties, as she graduated from high school in town.

Michael Jay plays Avram, a rebellious, ambitious and passionate character. No stranger to the Concord Players stage, he has appeared in leading roles in the recent productions of Barefoot in the Park and Sense and Sensibility. Michael also plays the brilliant Polish-Jewish playwright Sholem Asch, author of God of Vengeance.

Aiden O’Neal of Newton plays Chana, a sweet, earnest and passionate ingenue, among multiple other parts. Audience members may recognize her as she recently appeared on the Concord stage as Kate McGowan in Titanic: The Musical and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Aiden is now thrilled to represent the other part of her heritage playing a wonderful collection of Jewish women.

Judi Olson is making her Boston area stage debut, after recently moving back to the United States, in the role of Halina – sly, protective and quick to adapt, among other characters.  Indecent became one of Judi’s favorite shows after seeing it on Broadway and, after spending the last decade working in costumes, is delighted to step into the shoes of such interesting characters (rather than providing them for someone else).

Jon Linden plays the traditional and conservative Mendel, along with other characters: Nakhmen, a member of the Polish Yiddish literary salon, a Rabbi, a New York police officer, and a Producer at the Provincetown Playhouse. Jon has performed regularly with The World’s A Stage Players, Concord Players’ Shakespeare Troupe, and is excited to be sharing the Indecent stage with his wife, Wendy Linden, a member of the ensemble. Wendy, marketing director for Hebrew College in Newton, is performing her first indoor production with the Players after appearing in productions on the lawn of the Concord Library with The World’s A Stage Players.

As part of the ensemble, Joel Hersh of Framingham can often be seen working on both sides of the curtain and not just in Concord. With a degree in Theater from UMass/Amherst he also directs, stage manages, and runs sound and lighting, and other things.

Rounding out the ensemble cast, and making her Concord Players debut, is Alison Butts, a recent graduate of UMass/Amherst where she studied Theatre, Communication and Arts Management and puts her skills to good use in community theater.

Don’t miss this outstanding cast of actors, a script in Yiddish and English, and accomplished musicians performing live music of the era as The Concord Players present a multi-media event that is enlightening, soulful and moving.

Performances at The Performing Arts Center, 51 Walden St., are Feb. 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 8 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19. This play has mature themes so parental guidance is recommended.

For tickets and more information, including an introductory video and in-depth interview with the director, please visit: www.concordplayers.org or call 978-369-2990 and leave a message.

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