Pat Launer Pat Launer

The Sum and Its Parts


Lisa Kron is a trailblazer. The acclaimed actor/playwright has written and performed deeply personal, autobiographical monologues that are unique in structure and immersive for the audience. Most famously, she wrote the book and lyrics to a musical based on the best-selling graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, “Fun-Home,” which won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical… Read More »

The Jewish Millennial Dilemma, on Stage at Cygnet


Admit it. Somewhere along the line, whether you’re secular or observant, the back of your neurotic brain has taunted you by saying, “You’re a bad Jew.” The play called “Bad Jews,” by Joshua Harmon, has clearly struck a chord…and not only in the Jewish community. It’s been a big success in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington… Read More »

The Universal Accessibility of an Incredibly Jewish Play


Sarah Goldman is a Nice Jewish Girl whose parents just want her to marry a Nice Jewish Boy. A doctor wouldn’t hurt. There’s only one problem. Sarah’s been having a secret relationship (well, secret from her family, anyway), with a guy with the unlikely name of Chris Kringle. Needless to say, he isn’t Jewish. But… Read More »

The Many States of Hershey Felder


Fresh from his tour de force performance as Leonard Bernstein in “Maestro,” which went straight to Broadway after its record-smashing performance in San Diego, Hershey Felder is at it again. He had sworn off the composers – with Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Frederick Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt firmly under his belt –… Read More »

Klezmer, Exorcism and Love


“It’s my favorite play,” says Todd Salovey of S. Ansky’s 1914 masterwork, “The Dybbuk.” “It captures everything I love about theater. I think it’s unabashedly spiritual, and the logic of the play is spiritual logic. It’s the idea that a promise made between two friends that’s broken can have a devastating effect on their children’s… Read More »

The Sound and Fury of War


It seems that war is always with us. Kids stage assaults with guns. Teens play battle-drenched video games. Young adults go through military training and the bloody, real-life war experience. And then, the aftermath: depression, PTSD, and the painful process of integrating back into civilian life. If you survive. This is the trajectory, from age… Read More »

Defining Forgiveness – It’s an Inside Job


Something was rotten in the borough of Brooklyn.An upper middle class Jewish man murdered his wife and married her sister. This is not just the stuff of Shakespeare. Due to the uncanny, unnerving narrative parallels, Brenda Adelman calls her family story “My Brooklyn Hamlet.” It reads like fiction, and it certainly was a tragedy. But… Read More »

Theater Life, for Ben Fankhauser, is “Beautiful”


It’s been a wild ride for Ben Fankhauser, who’s traveled pretty far in his 27 years. He spent his first five in Switzerland, his father’s native land. His mother was a Jewish psychologist from Detroit, where the couple met. When his parents divorced, Mom took her two sons and relocated to Cleveland, where her sister… Read More »

Comedy Unscripted


Take a hefty heap of kvetching, add a dollop of self-deprecation, a grain of gossip and a smattering of smart-aleck. Simmer in sarcasm and serve on wry. And there you have it: Jewish humor! “It comes from centuries of oppression,” says Gary Kramer, founder of National Comedy Theatre, by way of explaining why there have… Read More »

Phil Johnson Wants to Tell You “A Jewish Joke”


It’s a bit of Borscht Belt, laced with a little strychnine; a play about a funnyman who’s faced with a not-so-funny crisis of conscience. Phil Johnson, a beloved local comic, writer and musical theater maven, realized early on that, like generations of Jewish jokesters, his humor helped him through a lot of tough times. “I… Read More »