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Monday, January 31, 2011

I Am an 89 Year-Old Russian Jew

Well, not really, but I will shortly be on the stage portraying one. It all came about like this. A few weeks ago I was sent an email by Richard Albert, Artistic Director of the newly-created Columbus Civic Theater, asking me if I would be interested in auditioning for the part of the furniture dealer in a production of Arthur Miller's play "The Price." Since I had never communicated with Mr. Albert before, nor heard of the Columbus Civic Theater (this is just its tenth show), and, truth be told, had never even read the play, I was nonplussed by this unexpected email. Since I collect plays (I own thousands), I investigated my shelves and discovered I owned three copies (I've always been a great fan of Arthur Miller), so I sat down and read it.

"The Price" is a four-person play about two brothers and the wife of one of them who are faced with having to make a fast sale of their deceased father's old furniture, so they summon an 89 year-old Russian Jew named Gregory Solomon, a licensed furniture dealer in NYC, and ask him what price he'll offer them for the furniture. I'd assumed that the furniture dealer would be a small part, but no. All four parts are quite large, and Gregory Solomon's part is a plum one (he's the comic relief, though he has his own dark secrets). Moreover the "price" of the title refers not only to this sale, but also to the price we all pay for the decisions we make in life. I was blown away by the play and the chance to play such a terrific part, and responded to a subsequent email from the director, Bo Rabby, that I'd happily kill anyone he liked if he'd cast me as Gregory Solomon.

An audition was promptly held and I was given the part on the spot. Rehearsals began immediately. And they damn well better have started that fast since the play will open in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, February 24, and play twelve performances: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the last weekend in February and the first three weekends in March. There are no Sunday performances, nor any matinees, with the curtain always going up at 8 p.m.

The website of the Columbus Civic Theater states:

"The Civics' mission is to present the great works of the world theater. The basic canon of western theater, the most notable, mentioned or referred to work being the most important. The main goal is to broaden the education and experience of our community to make them as theater literate, as possible."

Its current production is Oscar Wilde's comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest."

I'm neither Russian, Jewish, nor 89 years of age. The irony is that usually I'm too old for the parts I want to snag, but in this case I'm decades too young. Nor do I have a Russian-Yiddish accent in my repertoire, but Danielle Mari, who plays the wife in "The Price" and who was Goneril to my King Lear in 2008 (she recommended me for the part of Solomon), is an expert at dialects. She's coaching me on getting it right, and I sure hope she succeeds with her Yiddish-challenged student. The photo is of some other actor playing Gregory Solomon in a different production of "The Price." Things will be fine if I look even half that good.

The Columbus Civic Theater is located at 3837 Indianola Avenue (corner of Blenheim and Indianola). The outside of the building looks like the filling station it used to be (but the inside is splendid and comfortable, intimate and cozy). Directions can be found at

I'm very impressed by the professionalism of Bo Rabby, the director, and the other three very talented actors I'll share the stage with.

Come see our play if you can. If interested call (614) 447-7529 to reserve tickets (they are around $20.00 each, with certain variations), or go to:
Related Posts:
"Douglas Whaley, Actor," August 14, 2010
"Another Opening, Another Show: Doug is in 'Hamlet'," April 29, 2011
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

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