The solid cast handles all the complications brilliantly. Special kudos to
Grant and young Grey in portraying the volatile mother/daughter
complexities. Throughout, the family members come together and separate in
violent, angry combinations, achieving a certain amount of sympathy as
well as dismay. Sometimes close to being two-dimensional, they manage to
avoid becoming mere caricatures. The whole, compelling experience is
heightened by the physical arrangements of a stage which intersects the
audience. Twenty-four seats in tiered rows flank either side of the set.
This combination of dining room, living room, and kitchen is merely a
handbreadth away, drawing the audience into the action.

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The star, Sally Staats, is not Fanny Brice. Neither is she Barbara Streisand. It doesn’t matter because Staats has made this stage her own with a winsome, touching performance. She and Rob Ibanez, as the gorgeous, gambler Nick Arnstein share a magical chemistry. Even those who may think the 1968 movie version with Streisand and Omar Sharif can’t be topped will be surprised by what the immediacy of a well-done stage production can achieve. Staats and Ibanez are surrounded by a talented ensemble of actors, singers and dancers. Fanny’s long suffering mother is played with verve by Meagan Piccochi, who is especially delightful in interactions with her comedic poker-playing girlfriends. Jessica Noelle Evans nearly steals the show as noisy neighbor Mrs. Strakosh, and stately Bob Sanders is perfect as the often-thwarted showman, Florenz Ziegfield.

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My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy

Last February, as I sat reviewing a one-man play in a Florida theater, an immediate thought hit me: “This is a perfect show for Skokie!”

I was right! Brad Zimmerman’s My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy just opened at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts for a 4- week run, and it is a perfect match — just as funny and delightful the second time around as it was originally.

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