Chaim Potok’s award-winning book, The Chosen, has for the second time been transformed into a mesmerizing play. A universal story of relationships in their multitude of forms makes this play something for everyone – Jewish or not.
Written by Mr. Potok and Aaron Posner, the show now playing at The Fountain Theatre stars Jonathan Arkin as David Malter, Alan Blumenthal as Reb Saunders, Dor Gvirtsman, and Sam Mandel and is directed by Simon Levy.
The location is Williamsburg, Brooklyn, against the backdrop of World War II, when two young Jewish men meet in a baseball game. No ordinary game this event it plays Danny (Dor Gvirtsman), the son of the local Hassidic leader, against Reuven (Sam Mandel) the son of a modern Orthodox journalist. An accidental pitch injuring Reuven develops a life-long friendship between the two boys.
Despite both being Jewish their subcultures differ greatly. Reb Saunders is not only a Hassid but the Tzadik or leader. Having guided his people out of Europe he is the one all look to for answers on their lives. It’s expected that Danny as his eldest son will continue the dynasty and inherit the position including marrying the woman chosen for him. Like many Hassids, Reb Saunders feels that they must wait for the return if the Messiah before considering a Jewish state. Reuven, on the other hand, as a modern Orthodox boy, studies Talmud at a yeshiva, keeps kosher, and the Sabbath but is not considered as religious by the Hassidic community. Like his father, Reuven supports the creation of an Israeli state.
Because of their differences, Reb Saunders needs to approve his son’s friend…and with reservation he does until he realizes that Reuven’s father supports the Israeli state and bans the friendship.
The relationship between the two fathers and sons function at opposite ends. While Reuven and his father have an open give and take to exchange ideas, the Reb raises his son in silence wanting Danny to think for himself. The trouble is Danny is thinking and he’s not sure he wants to inherit this life. He wants to be a psychologist …and can’t bring himself to tell his father. He needs his friend to help him do so. Whereas Reuven who decides he wants to be a rabbi instead of a mathematician is encouraged by his dad to follow his heart.
The emotional scenes not only between the fathers and sons but also as the Reb davens (prays) for guidance will bring tears to your eyes. The smattering of Hebrew (done correctly) is explained clearly for those who might not understand the meanings. In the end, each family must come to terms as to the raising of their sons and their own futures.
Set design was done by DeAnne Millais while Terri Roberts worked with the props. Linda Michaels did makeup and hair. Michelle Young designed the costumes and Donny Jackson worked the lights. Miranda Steward was production stage manager. The Fountain Theatre producer is James Bennett with Deborah Culver as the producing artistic director, Stephen Sachs is the co-artistic director and Scott Tuomey is the technical director. Barbara Goodhill works as Director of Development and public relations are done by Lucy Pollak.
The superbly acted play runs until March 25, 2018, with performances on Saturday and Mondays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm and is well worth not one but several visits. Tickets run between $20-40 but on Monday nights they have a Pay-What-You-Want. For tickets call The Fountain (323 663- 1525) or go online.
Parking is available for $5 but the lot is small so get there early if you want to park there.
This is a play that will bring tears to your eyes and make you want to hug your children.