At the JCCNNJ’s opening Arts & Culture event on October 24, our audience members experienced the story of “Bar Mitzvah Boy”, which was so funny and touching that it transported them out of their daily lives and took them on a journey through laughter, tears, heartache and joy. That is the beauty of theatre.
Produced by Jewish Plays Project and directed by its founder, David Winitsky, “Bar Mitzvah Boy” written by Mark Leiren-Young was the 2017 Winner of the national Jewish Playwriting Contest. Fresh off of its five-city production run (Vancouver, Berkshires, Toronto, Winnipeg, Los Angeles), this play came to New Jersey, with its original JPP cast, actors Annie Meisels and Philip Hoffman.
Northern New Jersey’s own Geoffrey Cantor was a guest speaker and cameo actor. He shared, “As theater artist, I’m always looking for opportunities to find connection between my art and my Jewish identity. The JCCNNJ is creating a unique opportunity for our community to experience theatre at this level so close to home—especially with a play that so expertly explores our heritage, culture, and values.”
At face value, “Bar Mitzvah Boy” is the story of a cynical grandfather, Joey, who insists on squeezing in his bar mitzvah ceremony quickly before his grandson has his own. However, as Joey’s relationship with Rabbi Michael Levitz-Sharon — a woman leading a small synagogue and facing her daughter’s cancer diagnosis unfolds, the audience learns the story is much more than it seemed. The push and pull conflict of faith, family secrets and marital strife dug deep and captured the audience’s hearts completely.
Audience members exuded joy at coming together and experiencing a Jewish theatrical moment locally. “A fantastic evening of community and theatre,” said one audience member.
Rounding out the event, audience members enjoyed a cocktail reception upon arrival and a question and answer session with the playwright, director and actors at the end of the evening.
For more Arts & Culture events, click here: www.jccnnj.org/events.