Jest A Second!, James Sherman's sequel to his hit comedy, Beau Jest, will open at Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse Feb. 7 after a world-premiere in 1995 at the birthplace of the original Beau Jest, Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre, and productions at Lake George Dinner Theatre and Meadowbrook Theatre.
Playwright Sherman e-mailed Playbill On-Line to say that his show will open in New York at Playhouse 91 on East 91 St. (home of Jewish Repertory Theatre) on June 7. Dennis Zacek, the original director and Artistic Director of the Victory Gardens Theater, will direct.
Picking up where Beau left off, Jest A Second shows Sarah and her non-Jewish escort-turned-boyfriend now married. Now Sarah's brother, Joel, is in the midst of a divorce and has met a new love. Good news: Randy's a doctor and Jewish! Bad news: Randy's a man, and Joel's ex will use this against him in her custody battle.
Asked where he got the idea for a sequel in which the brother turned out to be gay, Sherman wrote, "My best friend in the world is a gay man with children. Also, among the MANY productions of Beau Jest I have seen over the years, I saw one in which the actor playing Joel gave me pause to wonder if the character might be gay. I played Joel once myself and played it as if I was gay to see if there was anything to contradict that possibility -- There isn't."
With the success of Jest I & II, can a third be far behind? "As an opening night gift for Jst A Second, I was given "the top ten third installation titles," including "Jest Another Minute," "Jest Cause," Playing Joel and Sarah's parents will be real-life husband and wife, Marilyn Chris and Lee Wallace, who appeared as Mr. & Mrs. Goldman in Coconut Grove's 1993 Beau Jest. Chris appeared on Broadway in Lenny and The Seven Descents Of Myrtle and Off-Broadway in Allen Ginsberg's Kaddish. Lee Wallace starred on Broadway in The Apple Doesn't Fall, The Cemetery Club, Zalman Or The Madness Of God and Grind. Off-Broadway's original Sarah, Dee Dee Friedman, will reprise that role here. She was also Bella in the national tour of Neil Simon's Lost In Yonkers. David Czismadia (of TV's "All My Children") plays beau Bob. Michael Oberlander is Joel; Gary Schwartz (Kiss Of The Spiderwoman is Randy.
Robert Kalfin, director of the Folksbiene Theatre's current Yiddish show, The Maiden Of Ludmir, directs the Coconut Grove Just A Second. The designers are Steve Lambert (set), Ellis Tillman (costumes), Thomas Salzman (lighting) and Steve Shapiro (sound).
Running through March 2 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse on Main Highway, Jest A Second begins previews Feb. 4. For tickets ($30-$35) and information call (305) 442-4000.
--By David Lefkowitz