Stage West Knows How to Handle with Care
How does someone cope with the loss (literally) of a much-loved relative on Christmas Eve, in a country where she doesn’t speak the language? Maybe life, or perhaps Fate, has a few surprises in store, in Jason Odell Williams’ sweetly funny Handle with Care, which begins a 5-week regional premiere run Thursday, December 8.
Ayelet is on a special trip in Virginia with her beloved grandmother, Edna, when the unforeseen happens, and Edna dies. By Jewish custom, her body must be buried within 24 hours, and Ayelet is waiting for a delivery service to come with the box of Edna’s remains, so she can fly back to Israel for the burial. Just one problem: the van has been stolen while the less-than-diligent delivery guy Terrence was at a gas station. He can’t communicate with Ayelet, who speaks only Hebrew. So he calls his Jewish best buddy, Josh, to come talk to Ayelet—but the only Hebrew Josh knows is what he calls “twice-a-year shul Hebrew.” Now what?
Reluctant to spend much time with each other at first, they gradually begin to find ways to communicate, and to open up a bit about their lives. Meanwhile, in flashback scenes, we learn more about Ayelet’s relationship with her grandmother, and the purpose of their trip. And over the course of the evening, we (and Ayelet and Josh) find that they have much more in common than they could have known. Is a happy ending in store?
This charming play is the perfect holiday entertainment, and is sure to give audiences ‘all the feels.’ A don’t-miss!
“A hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy…which exudes gobs of comic energy and insight.” – The New York Times
Jason Odell Williams is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer as well as an award-winning playwright and novelist. Hailed as a “postmodern Clifford Odets” by the L.A. Times and “this country’s newest Eugene O’Neill” by the Santa Monica Daily Press, his play Church & State was nominated for Best New Play by the Off-Broadway Alliance and L.A. Ovation Awards. Church & State was selected to be an NNPN Rolling World Premiere with productions in Los Angeles and Rochester before running for over 100 performances Off-Broadway at New World Stages. Jason’s first play Handle With Care was a New York Times Critics’ Pick, ran for over 100 performances Off-Broadway starring Carol Lawrence, has been produced over twenty times since 2011 in the U.S. and Canada, and won three Theatre Bay Area Awards including Outstanding Production. Other plays: Baltimore in Black & White (the cell theatre), Someone Else (NC Stage), The Science of Guilt (DR2), Going Offline (Fells Point Corner Theatre), The Jungle Gym (American Globe Theatre). Readings: Primary Stages, The Blank, The Lark, EST, as well as developmental readings starring Norbert Leo Butz, Matthew Lillard, and Tovah Feldshuh. Jason was a winner of the 2012 Hudson Valley Writers’ Center contest and the winner of the 2011 Fixitsolife Theatre playwriting contest. He lives in New York City with wife and daughter.
Handle with Care will be directed by Illana Stein, based in New York, whose credits include work locally at Amphibian Stage Productions, as well as Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, and off-Broadway for Theatre for a New Audience. The cast features Mor Cohen, whose many credits include Norah/Noor in SCOOP for Roy Arias Stages, off-Broadway, as Ayelet, and Lisa Fairchild, last at Stage West as Hazel in The Children, as Edna. Blake McNamara, last at Stage West as Danny in War Words, will play Josh, while Aaron Kozak, who appeared as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors at Theatre Unleashed LA, will make his Stage West debut as Terrence.
Set design is by Clare Floyd DeVries, with lighting design by Jared Land, costume design by Laurie Land, sound design by Jorge Guerra, and props and set décor by Lynn Lovett.
Handle with Care will preview Thursday, December 8 at 7:30 and Friday, December 9 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, January 8. The opening night reception will be after the performance on Saturday, December 10. Additional performances will be Wed, Dec 21 and Wed, Dec 28, at 7:30; there will be no performances Sat, Dec 24, Sun, Dec 25, Sat, Dec 31, or Sun, Jan 1 Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. Masks are recommended, but not required at this time. Ticket prices are $40 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $45 on Saturdays and Sundays, with $20 tickets for the two preview performances. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are advised). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.