Ran Avni, founding artistic director of Jewish Repertory Theatre in New York City told Playbill On-Line May 30 his non-profit company is still alive and kicking, and looking for a home following the loss of its residency at Playhouse 91 more than a year ago.
Some folks in the theatre community wondered if the Off-Broadway JRT, which produced Kuni-Leml, The Gathering, A Majority of One, The Jazz Singer and many other works in the past, had disappeared in the last year. The JRT's last major mainstage work was a musical, A Naughty Knight, back in May 2001.
But Avni said the board is active and he and his colleagues at the not-for-profit are searching for a place to take up residence, perhaps sharing a space with another company. Finding a home is the obstacle slowing JRT's return to its traditional four show season, Avni said.
"We prefer to be in one space" rather than presenting at various theatres, he said. "We have a traditional audience that likes to know where they are and where they're going."
In 2001-2002, JRT has presented an "abbreviated season" of staged readings and two concerts: Two by Two and the current Vagabond Stars (to June 2). Avni said fundraising is continuing in the company, which was dealt a blow last fall when its incoming managing director, Laura Rockefeller, was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
JRT has to its advantage a subscriber list, and there are always plays coming in. "One thing that's never been a problem is the amount and quality of scripts," Avni said. "In years past we thought that was going to be one of the difficulties. Finding new material is not at all the problem..."
JRT is presenting a special four- performance concert revival of the musical revue, Vagabond Stars, the first musical presented by JRT back in 1980, May 29-June 2 in Manhattan.
Vagabond Stars received critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience response in 1980 and consists of some of the most famous tunes and skits from the Yiddish Theatre, performed in English.
This is the first major revival of the show, which has a book by Nahma Sandrow, music by Raphael Crystal and lyrics by Alan Poul. Performances are at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th Street.
The cast includes Susan Schrot, Steve Sterner, Stuart Zagnit (Seussical), Jonathan Hadley and Cheryl Stern, under the direction of Ran Avni.
Performances run 8 PM May 29-30 and 3 PM and 7 PM June 2. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling (917) 606-8200.
— By Kenneth Jones