God of Vengeance Staged Reading with Live Music by Grammy winning artist, Lisa Gutkin
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Start with the Kaplan Theatre stage at Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center (the J).  On that stage, put eleven of Houston’s finest professional actors performing a Staged Reading of Sholem Asch’s 100+ year-old play, God of Vengeance (which was shut down for obscenity during its 1923 Broadway run).  Stir in exciting new Klezmer music composed especially for this performance, combined with pieces originally composed for the Tony Award-winning play, Indecent - all written and performed live by Grammy Award-winning violinist, singer and songwriter Lisa Gutkin of the Klezmatics, along with local musicians.  Combine all of these on Saturday, November 10 for one night only and what do you get?  A thought-provoking evening of Theatre and Music, reverence and irreverence, and love and repression that will haunt audiences long after the final words and notes have been echoed. 

In the few years since its relaunch after a 20-year hiatus, Theatre at the J has already created two unforgettable evenings of Staged Readings with the plays Broken Glass by Arthur Miller, and Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd floor.  This year’s reading of God of Vengeance, its most ambitious yet, will take the series even further.  Pushing new boundaries by combining such evocative music with this raw, gripping script has proved a fascinating process for all involved.  Said Lisa Gutkin, “The God of Vengeance is a story that needs to be told over and over again. It speaks to human respect despite life’s difficulties, and as such haunted all of us who created Indecent. I’m thrilled to be working with musicians Villie Shumanov and Don Jacobs to provide an underscoring to support these beautiful themes.” 

After considering bringing Indecent to Houston audiences as a Staged Reading, Theatre at the J ultimately decided to go back to the source work that Indecent is based on Sholem Asch’s 1907 play, God of Vengeance.   Originally written in Yiddish, it played throughout Europe to hugely enthusiastic audiences for years before coming to the Yiddish theatre of New York’s lower East Side, where it also played to excited crowds and was eventually translated into English, leading to the ill-fated Broadway production of 1923.

In recent years, interest in the play has seen a resurgence.  New translations and adaptations have been created, and new productions mounted for the first time in many decades.  “Now Theatre at the J is combining Isaac Goldberg’s 1918 Authorized Translation from the Yiddish with Lisa Gutkin’s wonderful music to create an entirely new ‘animal,’ and Houston audiences are in for an experience they have never encountered before,” said director Steve Garfinkel, who also serves as coordinator for the J’s Theatre Program.  “We are additionally thrilled to be offering a reading of this translation this year, on the centennial anniversary of its creation.”

Actors in the piece include: Malinda Beckham, Trevor Cone, Brad Goertz, Haley Hussey, Megan Jankovic, Bryan Kaplun, Scott Lupton, Carl Masterson, Lydia Meadows, Amanda Marie Parker and Whitney Zangarine.  Houston-based musicians playing in the piece with violinist Lisa Gutkin are: Donald Jacobs on woodwinds and Villie Schumann on accordion. 

The performance will take place at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, 2018, in the Kaplan Theatre at Evelyn Rubenstein JCC – 5601 S. Braeswood, 77096.  For tickets and information visit or call 713-729-3200

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