For all the press given to new and renovated theatres on 42nd Street, not to mention the proliferation of storefront playhouses on the Lower East Side, one bit of renewal snuck in under the radar: The Susan Bloch Theatre, for several years the home of the American Jewish Theatre, has been refurbished by new owner Eric Krebs and now reopens for business. Renamed "The Maverick Theatre," the 140-seat venue no longer houses the AJT, but its first production would certainly be comfortable under the old auspices.
In Dreams and Gimpel, a two-part, one-man show, began previews at the Maverick March 6 and opens there March 19 for an open run. David Margulies adapted and performs the piece, which adapts short stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Delmore Schwartz. Singer's "Gimpel the Fool," translated from the Yiddish by fellow Nobel Prize-winner Saul Bellow, tells of a simple man cruelly misused by townfolk. Schwartz's "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities," follows a courtship in turn-of-the-last-century Coney Island.
Actor Margulies' credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs and Conversations with My Father, as well as Off-Broadway's Bashevis, Tales of I.B. Singer. TV viewers can catch him as Tony Soprano's lawyer on "The Sopranos."
Designing In Dreams are Rich Latta (lighting), Tina Haworth (costumes) and Valerie Green (sets), with Fay Simpson serving as directorial consultant.
According to Maverick spokespersons at Cohn Davis Associates, owner producer Krebs also manages the John Houseman and Douglas Fairbanks Theatres. Asked about the Maverick's resurgence, Krebs told Playbill On-Line, "It's been a complete upgrading and renovation, with new carpets, new drapes, new plumbing, new painting, new lighting fixtures in the entrance way. It's the same configuration, though, still three-quarters in the round and a problematic nine-foot ceiling." For tickets ($35) and information on In Dreams and Gimpel at the Maverick Theatre, 307 West 26th St., call 212-239-6200.
— By David Lefkowitz