YENTL TO CLOSE NJT SEASON, MARKING 40 YEARS SINCE ITS CLOSE ON BROADWAY

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Pictured: Shanara Gabrielle and Andrew Neiman; Photo by Eric Woolsey

 PLAY OPENS ONE DAY EARLY AT NJT

(St. Louis, April 18, 2016) – Yentl, the play about a Polish-Jewish girl who dresses like a boy in order to study holy teachings in a Yeshiva, gets an extra jolt of sexuality and energy with the addition of songs by pop songwriter Jill Sobule, in the production that opens Wednesday, May 11 at the New Jewish Theatre. The play with music is adapted from the Isaac Bashevis Singer short story “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.” The play (opening a day earlier than usual – on Wednesday, May 11) will run through June 5.

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Pictured: Shanara Gabrielle and Andrew Neiman; Photo by Eric Woolsey

In 19th-century Eastern Europe, options for young women are few, and education is forbidden. But Yentl has been able to secretly pursue her studies, which are her life’s passion, under the tutelage of her father. After he dies, her only hope of achieving her dreams is to disguise herself as a boy. When she falls in love, Yentl must decide whether or not to reveal the truth. The play, while set in the 19th century, tells a very contemporary story of search for identity and women’s equality. Sobule’s music reinforces that with its contemporary sound that combines a pop/rock/klezmer feel.

This marks 40 years exactly since the play — then without music — closed on Broadway in May 1976 (featuring Tovah Fedlshuh as the title character). Written by playwright Leah Napolin with the blessing and cooperation of I.B. Singer, the work is often seen as a feminist proof text, positing that women, too, have the brains and drive to tackle the male-driven world of talmudic study. It is a statement supporting education for women, which is still forbidden today in many cultures.

Singer/songwriter Jill Sobule who wrote the music for this production, (including new music just added) hopes that this remounting of Yentl will introduce a new generation to Singer’s beloved and surprisingly relevant tale. This is only the third production of the script with Sobule’s music. In the original 2012 Florida production, playwright Napolin reported that particularly younger audiences of teens identified with Yentl as an outsider seeking to find her own voice within a very proscribed world. Sobule has been working with the cast and Music Director and will return for opening weekend.

NJT has added an additional performance, an early opening, on Wednesday, May 11 at 7:30 PM at a discounted price of $27 per ticket. (Tickets for other dates $39-50 – $43.50.) The run will continue through Sunday, June 5. Edward Coffield directs the large cast which includes Shanara Gabrielle* as Yentl and Andrew Michael Neiman* as Avigdor, the man she falls in love with. Supporting cast includes Peggy Billo*, Will Bonfiglio, Amy Loui*, Terry Meddows*, Brendan Ochs, Jennifer Theby Quinn, Luke Steingruby, Taylor Steward and Jack Zanger. Musical director Charlie Mueller will work with a band of three musicians and many of the actors on stage will also occasionally be playing instruments. Ellen Isom will choreograph the show. Tickets available at newjewishtheatre.org or 314-442-3283. All performances at the Wool Studio Theater, 2 Millstone Campus Dr, 63146.

Warning: the play contains brief nudity.

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