Crossing Delancey

By Susan Sandler


Directed by Karin Cunningham
February 3 to 19, 2012


Read the Reviews: Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW

Photos:
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Volunteer of the Production

Barbara Talaska

Jenny Kosek talks about the show!

Cast 

Denise Meagher

Idiala "Bubbie"

Jenny Kosek

Isabelle "Izzy"

Matt Lovison

Sam

Mark Neufang

Tyler

Tammy Vrba

Hannah

Production Staff 

Director

Karin Cunningham

Stage Manager

Debi Mumford

Assistant Director

Corey Richards

Lighting Designer

Scott Fudali

Properties Designer, Running Crew

Monica Santroch

Sound Designer/Board Operator

John Santroch

Costume Design

Aleta Bernard

Scenic Designer, Master Carpenter, Set Decorator

Michael Talaska

WCT's 'Crossing Delancey' delves into finding love

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
February 9, 2012

WAUKESHA -What was once a predominately Jewish neighborhood through the latter half of the 20th century, Delancey Street is now a bustling multi-ethnic, artsy thoroughfare in New York City's lower east side.

As in many cities, where you live determines how you are perceived or even how you perceive yourself. In the Waukesha Civic Theatre's production of "Crossing Delancey," a 1988 film starring Amy Irving, we experience the crossing of lines, the venturing into new territory and how that affects the various characters.

It is Isabelle's (Izzy) story, a young Jewish woman who is experimenting with a life that differs from that of her heritage. She lives alone, works in a small bookstore that caters to upcoming artists and educated readers. Though she loves her Bubbie (grandmother) and visits her faithfully, she longs to be her own person and not succumb to marriage by coercion as advocated by Bubbie and the local matchmaker.

She is attracted to Tyler, a novelist who frequents the bookstore to check on his sales, and when he finally unexpectedly agrees to meet her for a drink, she is so flattered that she leaves Sam, the pickle man, stranded in Bubbie's kitchen, waiting for his date to arrive.

Sam has been solicited by Hannah, the aggressive matchmaker, to be the perfect soulmate for Izzy, a good, hardworking Jewish man with roots in the community. Bubbie approves of the match and applies her inimitable pressure.

This story isn't exactly a good ad for feminism or independent thinking, but it does come off as a charming romantic comedy with many laughs provided by Bubbie and Hannah, the stereotypical, interfering Jewish mothers, doing everything to control the lives of their kith and kin.

Denise Meagher all but steals the show as Bubbie, the self-impressed termagant who is both lovable and challenging. Her misguided love of her granddaughter is as genuine as it is maddening.

The matchmaker, played by Tammy Vrba, was somewhat difficult to understand at times, but we definitely can't miss her aggressive strategies. She plunders food and single women with equal passion.

Both suitors are well defined and starkly contrasted. Tyler, suavely portrayed by Mark Neufang, is attractive and wily while Sam (Matt Lovison) is almost too sincere, solid and understanding to be believable. Yet, there is something dear about him.

The metaphor about the hat is clever and ties everything together. It is good sometimes to experience change and risk, even if it leads to a return to what you were trying so hard to escape. Jenny Kosek as Izzy captures this transformation nicely as she teeters between choices.

The time lapse between scene changes was somewhat distracting and seemingly unnecessary since Bubbie's apartment and the bookstore are both set up from the beginning. But overall, it's still a charming little play that the audience was obviously enjoying.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2011

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Big characters fill WCT's 'Crossing Delancey'

Marilyn Jozwik
February 7, 2012

Waukesha Civic Theatre's "Crossing Delancey" is remindful of miniature paintings, with detailed scenes in the space of postcard.

In the short space of 90 minutes, the show painted a charming picture of 20-something Izzy (Jenny Kosek) who adores her grandma Bubbie (Denise Meagher), but doesn't think she needs any help finding a suitable mate.

Also in that short span, the play manages to sketch out Bubbie and her unique qualities shaped by her Jewish heritage.

Izzy works at a small bookstore and is enamored of a local author named Tyler (Mark Neufang), an arrogant fellow who only has eyes for his latest book and how it is selling despite Izzy's attempts to be noticed. Meanwhile, Bubbie has enlisted her friend, Hannah (Tammy Verba), a matchmaker, to work her magic on Izzy.

Hannah introduces Izzy to Sam (Matt Lovison), who owns a pickle shop, but Izzy is star-struck by Tyler and shows no interest in the sweet and eager entrepreneur. When Sam sends a thoughtful gift to Izzy she begins to see the possibilities. Izzy finally snaps out of the dream world she's created with the author and sees Sam in a new light.

The show is a character study, and that character is Bubbie. Kosek wisely stays out of the way of Meagher's characterization of the consummate Jewish matron, whose mantra is "loneliness is a sickness." Bubbie simply can't believe her granddaughter can be happy without a man in her life and she uses all her wiles to make sure Izzy doesn't spend much more of her life alone.

Meagher, as Bubbie, fills the stage. She spits to exorcise a distasteful sentiment, dances and sings while she bakes and raves about her past beauty, many suitors and culinary skills. She is, in the common parlance, a drama queen. As Jenny, Kosek is engaging but never upstages Meagher's Bubbie.

If Bubbie isn't enough of a character for one stage, the show adds the meddling matchmaker, Hannah. This is one of Verba's larger roles with WCT in recent years and it's great to see her stretch her time on stage with this outlandish character. Verba's Hannah is in your face, unabashed about her opinions and about her love of eating. Most of her lines are delivered with a mouthful of food as she devours Bubbie's blintzes and other goodies. She must have consumed a whole meal onstage. Hannah's ample character wears big bling, big glasses and bright colors to match her bombastic personality. When Bubbie and Hannah are on stage together there isn't a dull nanosecond.

Neufang as the egotistic author, Tyler, wears his self-worth on his sleeve, making it especially fun when he gets his comeuppance.

Not to be overlooked is Lovison's Sam, who is likable from the moment he presents Izzy and Bubbie with a bagful of his prized pickles. Lovison possessed probably the most consistent of New York Yiddish accents on opening night, while Meagher and Verba occasionally lapsed and Kosek simply did without.

Director Karin Cunningham had a veteran WCT cast to work with and presented a fast-moving, thoroughly entertaining little gem of a comedy.

Michael Talaska handled the set design and oversaw construction of a three-layered set jammed with numerous elements without looking the least bit cluttered, including a well-appointed kitchen, a full-shelved bookstore and an outdoor park bench area. Bubbie's kitchen is so realistic - from the little round-top refrigerator to the formica-topped table - you can almost smell the kugel!