Pat Launer Pat Launer

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 »

Multicultural Delight


Jewish and arts just seem to go together. And each summer, for the past 23 years, they’re officially joined and celebrated at the Annual Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, a delight for all ages and artistic tastes. Last year’s event was the highest selling in JFest history, and this year promises to be… Read More »

What the F#$%?!?!?


When someone asks the four-year-old daughter of playwright Aaron Posner the name of her father’s play, she shouts, “Stupid Fucking Bird!” She knows to say it only at home. Posner’s very personal response to Chekhov’s “The Seagull” has a very deliberate title. “I figure that anyone who’s offended by the title won’t come see the… Read More »

Art Imitates Life at Scripps Ranch Theatre


Two middle-aged New York sisters, both hyper-concerned with their appearance. One eats compulsively; the other obsessively pursues plastic surgery. Their conversations are fast-paced, snappy and funny. They could so be Jewish. But in Jon Lonoff’s “Skin Deep,” they come from a large Irish-Catholic family. The plus-sized sister, Maureen, who has a well-used altar in her… Read More »