From left, Georgina McKee, Chris Crawford and Brian Webb Russell star in American Stage Theatre’s production of “My Name Is Asher Lev,” through Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Raymond James Theatre.
ST. PETERSBURG – American Stage Theatre Company’s production of “My Name Is Asher Lev,” a new play by Aaron Posner adapted from the best-selling novel by Chaim Potok, opens Friday, July 19 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg.
There will be previews on July 17 and 18. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m. Matinees are Saturdays and Sundays, 3 p.m.
Special performances are as follows:
• Pay What You Can Nights – Sundays, Aug. 18 and 25, 8 p.m.
• Tuesday shows – Aug. 6 and 20, 8 p.m.
• Wednesday matinee – Aug. 21, 3 p.m.
• Twilight shows - Aug. 10, 18, 24 and 25, 5 p.m.
The second play of the company’s 2012-13 Summer Series, this production of “My Name Is Asher Lev” is an area premiere. The play is a winner of the 2013 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play.
“My Name Is Asher Lev” takes place in the years following World War II at various locations in Brooklyn, New York. The story follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hassidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise. When his artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith. This adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist.
The production does include brief nudity in the context of a woman modeling for a painting.
T. Scott Wooten is directing and handling the sound design for American Stage Theatre’s production of “My Name Is Asher Lev,” which will be performed in one act with no intermission. Originally from Arkansas, Wooten was the artistic associate of American Stage for nine seasons before leaving to join the stage management team at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. American Stage audiences will remember his directorial work with productions of “A Steady Rain,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Fully Committed,” “The New Century,” “Tuesdays With Morrie,” “Sleuth” and “Krapp’s Last Tape.”
The cast features Chris Crawford (Asher Lev), Brian Webb Russell (The men: Father, Uncle, The Rebbe and Jacob Kahn) and Georgina McKee (The women; Mother, Anna Schaeffer the art collector and Rachel the model). Both Crawford and Russell are returning to American Stage.
Crawford was last seen in last summer’s hit, “The Foreigner.” Other regional credits include several freeFall Theatre productions such as “John & Jen,” “Romeo + Juliet” and “A Christmas Carol.” He is the 2007 National Winner of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Award for Acting, as well as the Mark Twain Award for Outstanding Comedic Performance.
Russell was last seen at American Stage in productions such as “7 Homeless Mammoths Wander New England,” “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” “The Seafarer,” “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” and “Barefoot in the Park.”
Russell was the recipient of a Jeff Norton Award for his work in American Stage's “Barefoot in the Park.” He has garnered two First Night Awards in Nashville for his performances in “Biloxi Blues” and “Kiss Me Kate!”, and was the 2001 recipient of the Ingram Theatre Fellowship awarded annually by the Tennessee Arts Commission.
McKee will be making her debut at American Stage. She lives in Milwaukee where her recent credits include “A Christmas Carol” (Milwaukee Rep), “1000 Words” (Forward Theater Company) and “In The Park With George” (Skylight Music Theatre).
In addition to Wooten’s directing and sound design, the artistic staff also includes Jerid Fox, scenic designer and properties master, Adrin Erra Puente, costume designer; Megan Byrne, lighting designer; Karla Hartley, production stage manager; and Timon Brown, as technical director.
Potok’s novel “My Name Is Asher Lev” was published in 1972.
Potok was was an American Jewish author and rabbi. He is best known for his first book, “The Chosen,” a 1967 novel which was listed on The New York Times bestseller list for 39 weeks. The book sold more than 3,400,000 copies.
The novel “My Name Is Asher Lev” follows Asher Lev, a Hasidic Jewish boy living in New York City. The boy is a loner and an aspiring artist. Lev wrestles with tradition as he matures and finds himself constantly challenged by the friction between religion and art.
Posner, a freelance director and playwright, has won Barrymore Awards as both a director and playwright, and Helen Hayes Awards for Best Director three of the last nine years. His published and produced adaptations include “The Chosen,” “My Name Is Asher Lev” and “Sometimes a Great Notion.”