Richard Topol (Indecent) will lead an Off-Broadway premiere stage adaptation of Leslie Epstein's 1979 novel King of the Jews, set to play HERE Arts Center beginning October 24 ahead of an October 28 opening night. The run will continue through November 19.
Topol will be joined by Rachel Botchan, David Deblinger, John Little (Cabaret), Daniel Oreskes (West Side Story), Allen Lewis Rickman (Relatively Speaking), JP Sarro (Orange is the New Black), Dave Shalansky (Gilmore Girls), Jonathan Spivey (The Front Page), Erica Spyres (Paradise Square), Wesley Tiso (Chicago P.D.), and Robert Zukerman. Casting is by Jamibeth Margolis.
The work, which Epstein adapted for the stage, follows a group of Jewish people in a café forced by German occupiers to establish a self-governing group that will decide who lives and dies in the ghetto surrounding them. Epstein's stage adaptation premiered in Boston in 2007.
Alexandra Aron is directing the Off-Broadway bow, leading a creative team that includes scenic designer Lauren Helpern, lighting designer Zach Blane, sound designer Jane Shaw, costume designer Oana Botez, and prop designer Sarah Pencheff-Martion. Emily Paige Ballou is production stage manager, and Michal IV. Mendelson is assistant stage manager. John Breen is producing for Parkman Productions.
"When I adapted my novel King of the Jews for the stage, I aimed to capture the essence of humanity’s most challenging moments," shares Epstein in a statement. "This small café becomes a microcosm of the larger world and its most profound moral dilemmas. The struggle of the Judenrat echoes in stark form many of the choices, including that between good and evil, democratic instincts, and the ruthlessness of fascism, that stands before us now. We, too, must discover what these ordinary men and women do on their stage: cowardice, of course, and foolish pride and egoism, but also resilience, the ability to laugh, the strength to resist, and in the end, a degree of hidden wisdom that cries out to those with power over others: there are moral limits beyond which no human beings can be asked to go. Their past is very much with us in our own present."
Tickets are available at Here.org.