Story of hope, resilience told through play

LONG BEACH - Two sisters separated by the Holocaust reunite in the aftermath of World War II in Barbara Lebow's "A Shayna Maidel," opening June 11 at International City theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.International City Theatre first presented "A Shayna Maidel" as part of its 1992 season. "Our audiences were deeply affected," said Shashin Desai, ICT artistic director. "We wanted to reprise one play from our archives in celebration of our 25th anniversary and this beautiful play kept calling to me." The production follows Rose Weiss (played by Laura Howard), who emigrated to America as a young child with her father, Mordechai (Larry Eisenberg). Ill with scarlet fever, older sister Lusia (Liza de Weerd), stayed behind in Poland with Mama (Julia Silverman), planning to follow later. Now, it's 1946 and Rose is a young woman living in Manhattan when she learns that Lusia has been liberated from a concentration camp and is coming to New York. After a 15-year separation, the two women are almost like strangers and must struggle to reconnect. "This is not a depressing play about the Holocaust," Desai said. "Lebow develops the relationship between these two women, sisters who are virtual strangers, with insight and gentle humor, and in the end it's an uplifting, even cathartic experience." "A Shayna Maidel" premiered in 1985 at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Conn., and it opened in New York City a year later. Since then, it has been performed to acclaim in theaters all over the country. Mel Gussow, theater critic for the New York Times, called the play "a deeply personalized study of sisterhood, family and a crisis of faith. Moving among her characters and shifting back and forth in time, the playwright draws a comprehensive portrait of a family devastated by war." "A Shayna Maidel" runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., June 11 through July 3. Tickets are $32 and $37 on Thursdays, $37 and $42 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night, which is $50 and $60. For reservations and information, call the ICT box office at (562) 436-4610 or visit

********** Published: May 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 5