Two of the stars of the George Street Playhouse production of Bad Jews are newcomers to the theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Alec Silberblatt and Amos VanderPoel also sat down with WBGO's Doug Doyle to talk about the show.
The smash hit comedy Bad Jews is making its New Jersey premiere, directed by Jessica Stone.
Bad Jews premiered at the Roundabout Underground to critical acclaim in October 2012 before transferring to Roundabout's larger off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre in October 2012. The New York Times called it "The Best Comedy of the Season" at that time with the playwright Joshua Harmon receiving several prestigious awards for his show.
Alec Silberblatt plays "Liam Haber", a self-proclaimed "bad Jew" who may actually be an atheist. When Silberblatt was asked if there is such a thing as a "bad Jew"?
“Is there such a thing as a good Christian or a bad Christian, or a good Muslim or a bad Muslim, a good Hindu or a bad Hindu? You could make the argument, and I think Liam would make the argument, all this stuff it doesn’t matter. We’re just putting labels on something when we’re all just trying to be good people and trying to live in the world."
Silberblatt's character "Liam" and his high-strung and unbending cousin "Daphna"argue over who should inherit their grandfather's treasured heirloom "Poppy's" Chai necklace. The verbal battle begins over the necklace the night of "Poppy's" funeral: Silberblatt says his character wants the necklace to propose to his sweetheart "Melody":
“It’s always fun to watch people get angry, whether it’s your uncle at Thanksgiving or at Passover or whatever. Or people on stage, there’s a long history of people laughing at people getting very, very angry and saying things that maybe later they’ll regret saying."
Daphna is played by Laura Lapidus and Maddie Jo Landers portrays Liam's girlfriend.
The role of Liam's younger brother, "Jonah Haber", is played by Amos VanderPoel. VanderPoel agrees Bad Jews pushes the audience beyond its comfort zone when it comes to religion:
“What faith means to the current generations and how that differs from people who grew up like baby boomers. Their parents are survivors of the holocaust. What faith means to them and how they go about displaying that, whether that’s doing community service or in Liam’s case not honoring tradition. What does it mean to them, and does that make people bad Jews?"
Both men in the show praise the work of director Jessica Stone. VanderPoel says Stone knows all about the importance of timing in a comedy:
“Jessica she is a veteran actress and director, she’s got a great eye for comedy, for timing and she’s almost like a conductor in a lot of ways for how she wants the dialogue to flow, the rhythms that each character is in and how it clashes and works together with the other characters. She’s done a great job at orchestrating this play.”
Stone is making her GSP directorial debut.
VanderPoel earned his BFA at Syracuse University. VanderPoel played "Taylor" in the 2013 film Delivery Man starring Vince Vaughn.
Silberblatt's BFA is from the University of Cincinnati. He's also a writer and is a member of the Middle Voice Theater Company at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Greenhouse Theater Company, both in New York.
Click above to hear Doug Doyle's in-depth interview with Silberblatt and VanderPoel.