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Ensemble Theatre Company Presents Hit Comedy ‘Bad Jews’

Ensemble Theatre Company at the New Vic continues its exciting 2015-16 season with playwright Joshua Harmon’s savagely hilarious Bad Jews, an uproarious and thought-provoking exploration of faith and family.

Directed by Jonathan Fox, Bad Jews performs in Santa Barbara April 14 through May 1, 2016. The company will then travel to Frankfurt for the German premiere production.

In Bad Jews, Daphna Feygenbaum swears she is the most devout Jew in her family. After all, she has plans of joining a vegan rabbinical school in Israel.

But when her less observant and equally opinionated cousin, Liam, arrives after their grandfather’s funeral to lay claim to his cherished chai necklace, a hilarious battle between the holy and holier-than-thou ignites.

A cramped Manhattan apartment becomes the setting for a sidesplitting quarrel about family and faith with Liam’s blissfully naïve girlfriend, Melody, and his younger brother, Jonah, caught in the middle.

The sometimes-controversial play, whose posters were banned from the London Tube system on the grounds that it could cause “widespread or serious offence,” will carry a special significance in its German premiere production at English Theatre Frankfurt.

“It’s exciting to be taking ETC’s production of Bad Jews to Germany for its premiere there,” said Fox, ETC’s executive artistic director. “The play presents interesting challenges — not least of which is its title, which is how non-observant Jews often refer to themselves — but I think the play speaks to the thorny dynamics within all families and speaks in a very funny way.”

This is ETC’s second international collaboration. In 2008, ETC took its production of Old Wicked Songs to Vienna, where it was the Austrian premiere of the play.

Bad Jews received its world premiere at Roundabout Underground and was the first production to transfer to the Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre (Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Award nominations, Best Play).

The play has become one of the most popular comedies of recent years, taking Broadway and the West End by storm. The New York Times hails Bad Jews as “the best comedy of the season,” and the New York Post proclaims it’s “delicious, nasty, good fun.”

The breakthrough script for Bad Jews catapulted playwright Joshua Harmon into the global theater spotlight. Acclaimed as “cheerfully fearless” by the Chicago Tribune, Harmon’s work has been produced and developed by Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, Ars Nova and Actor’s Express, where he was the 2010-11 National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence.

He has received fellowships from MacDowell, Atlantic Center for the Arts, SPACE at Ryder Farm and the Eudora Welty Foundation.

Harmon is a recent graduate of Juilliard and is currently at work on commissions for Roundabout Theatre Company and Lincoln Center Theater. His newest play, Significant Other, opened at Roundabout this summer to rave reviews.

Making her ETC debut as the fiery and ferocious Daphna is Eden Malyn, who returns to the stage after making a major splash in television.

Malyn’s TV credits include the wildly popular American Horror StoryCriminal MindsCastle and House of Lies. She will be featured in a recurring role of Erin Sikowitz on seasons three and four of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.  

Starring opposite Daphna in the role of Liam is Adam Silver, who earned an Ovation Award nomination for his performance in Stupid F*cking Bird at Theater @ Boston Court.

Silver’s additional Los Angeles credits include Sleepless in Seattle at Pasadena Playhouse and Sons of the Prophet at The Blank Theatre. He has also been seen in Chicago in Steppenwolf’s productions of Cross Town and No Place Like Home, as well as Second City’s Unauthorized Biography.

Rounding out the talented young cast is Cory Kahane in the role of Jonah, which he recently performed at Chicago’s Theater Wit and Royal George Theatre, and Stephanie Burden as Melody, who has been featured in performances at Fords Theatre, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center and Round House Theatre in Maryland.

The design team for Bad Jews includes scenic designer Charlie Corcoran, costume designer Dianne K. Graebner and lighting designer Pablo Santiago.

The 2015-16 ETC season has been generously sponsored by The Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation. Production support for Bad Jews comes from Ruth and Alan Heeger, with additional support from Sybil Rosen.

Founded in 1979, Ensemble Theatre Company is Santa Barbara’s leading professional, resident theater company. Under the leadership of Executive Artistic Director Jonathan Fox, ETC has attracted accomplished performing artists from around the country.

The 2015-16 Season is its third in the New Vic, ETC’s newly renovated 294-seat performing arts venue.

Tickets are currently on sale for the 2015-16 Season, which ends with Noël Coward’s Fallen Angels (June 9-26, 2016).

Performances for Bad Jews run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m., with a Saturday 4 p.m. matinee performance April 23 and a Tuesday 7 p.m. show April 19.

Youth tickets are available for age 29-and-under for only $20 each. Single tickets are available through the ETC box office at 805.965.5400 or online at etcsb.org.

For group sales information, call 805.965.5400.

— Charlie Rohlfs is the director of marketing and public relations at Ensemble Theatre Company.

 

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