Beverly FriendFlorida ReviewsREVIEWS

A Jew Grows in Brooklyn 2.0

Mizner Park Cultural Center
Coral Springs Center for the Arts
Written by Jake Ehrenreich
Co-directed by Jon Huberth and Lisa Ehrenreich

 Reliving the Past; Enjoying the Present

You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn 2.0,” but it
helps. It also enhances the experience if you are a senior citizen brought
up in a major urban area (preferably a borough of New York– any borough)
and retired in Florida — especially if you have sufficient memory loss to
have forgotten jokes older than you are so that you can hear the punch
lines with fresh delight. An added plus would be if nostalgia causes your
heart to beat faster and your eyes to fill with tears at sensitive

The Florida audience fulfills all these criteria and more as they respond
to versatile actor/director Jake (aka Yankel) Ehrenreich in his new play,
an update of an earlier, quite successful version, both based on his book:
“A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, The curious Reflections of a First Generation
American” (published in 2010).

Versatility does not begin to do him credit as a performer as he adds a
marvelous singing voice, skill in playing the trumpet, the trombone, and a
complete drum set in addition to his ability as a standup comic. We visit
his past via pointed recollections interlaced with ancient black and white
photographs and film clips that capture the styles and memories of parents
and other relatives. We visit high points in his life as they move from a
history of his parents as Holocaust survivors, to his Bar Mitzvah, through
schooling, trips to the Catskills, his courtship and wedding and
ultimately the Briss (ceremonial circumcision) of his own son — all in 90
minutes without intermission.

We meet everyone: immigrant parents who struggled towards success, a
feisty aunt, playmates and colleagues. Not only do we hear about them, but
we actually meet them as Ehrenreich recreates certain characters. This is
highly successful in a vivid Catskills memory where he takes on the
specific roles of waiter, emcee, band members and the star of a typical
hotel’s nightclub experience. Throughout, the audience gasps with delight,
showing instant recognition of photos of such places as the restaurant
where so many stopped for refreshments (and bathroom trips) on their way
from bustling New York to their fun-filled Catskill vacations.

Every now and again, Ehrenreich playfully kibitzes with the audience,
asking names, joking with their answers, and engaging them in mutual
memories. He could be their son, their brother, or even their earlier
selves. They relive his experiences taking them on as their own. It is a
Beverly Friend, PHD, Member American Critics Assn.

Mizner Park Cultural Center, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton (Feb 2-26),
877-238-5596. Thursday 3 and 7 pm, Friday 8 pm, Saturday 3 and 8 pm,
Sunday 2 and 5:30 pm  and the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2885
Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs (March 10-12), 954-344-5990. Friday 8
pm, Saturday 3 and 8 pm, Sunday 2 and 5 pm. Tickets ($39-69)