Towle Theater breaking down cultural barriers with "Jewtopia"

2013-04-29T00:00:00Z Towle Theater breaking down cultural barriers with "Jewtopia"By Times Staff nwitimes.com
April 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

HAMMOND | A sketch that became a full-length play, the longest running production in Los Angeles theater history and a star-studded movie production, has now become a part of the Towle Theater’s collection of eclectic theater productions.

The theater, 5205 Hohman Ave., in collaboration with director Marty Grubbs, presents "Jewtopia" for the next three weekends, May 3-5, 9-11 and 17-19. Show time is 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

“It talks about several stereotypes of Judaism. I believe it has the ability to break down some cultural generalizations through humor,” actor Will Snyder said.

Written by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, "Jewtopia" unfolds as the story of two 30-year-old single men.

Chris O’Connell, a gentile, will do just about anything in hopes of marrying a Jewish girl so he’ll never have to lift a finger again. Adam Lipschitz, a Jewish man, is faced with the pressure of finding a Jewish girl to please his family’s old country traditions, but couldn’t get a date if his life counted on it.

After meeting at a Jewish singles mixer, the two form a dating alliance. O'Connell promises that he will help Lipschitz find the Jewish girl of his dreams if Lipschitz will show O'Connell the ropes in the Jewish world. Cultural and familial stereotypes collide, cultures clash and chaos ensues.

“To me, it’s like Blazing Saddles, it makes jabs at stereotypes even outside of Judaism. It also shows family dynamics and you get a glimpse of what others’ dynamics are like and many people can relate to this,” said actor Aaron Itzcak.

The cast of Jewtopia includes Snyder, of Chicago;  Itzcak, of St. John; Sabrina Conti, of Chicago; Sherry Sweeney, of Hobart; Kevin Sherman, of Hammond; Dan Ball, of Schererville; and Jin You, of Chicago.

For Itczak, an educational technology trainer with the Lake Central Corporation, rehearsing for "Jewtopia" has become a learning experience deeper than memorizing the lines and mannerisms of his on-stage character.

“Several years ago, my great aunt went back to Poland to learn about our ancestry. While inquiring about our last name, Itczak, they replied that Itczak is Jewish, not Polish.

"We recently learned we were culturally Jewish, but lived in Poland. While rehearsing for this production, I keep realizing how closely related to this culture we really are. Some of the stereotypes ring so true to my family life,” he said. “It makes me laugh out loud sometimes while rehearsing.”

Tickets are $17.

Free, well-lit, secured parking is available off Fayette Street, near the theater's back entrance, and in a new lot on Hohman Avenue across from the theater. Visit www.towletheater.org or call Kevin Bellamy, director of administration, at (219) 937-8780.

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