It’s been said to closely resemble one of those commercial comedies by playwrights like Neil Simon and Woody Allen that were so popular with the Jewish audiences that dominated Broadway during the 1960s.
Jason Odell Williams’s romantic comedy Handle With Care opens in a nondescript motel room somewhere in Virginia with an Israeli woman screaming in Hebrew at a flustered courier who speaks only English. The woman is in a panic because her dead grandmother’s body has apparently been lost in transit to the airport. But when the courier summons his Jewish buddy to help translate, the stage is soon set for romance.
Currently running off-Broadway, Handle With Care opens Feb. 20 in Toronto in a production by Teatron Toronto Jewish Theatre, directed by Ari Weisberg and starring Zack Amzallag, Tal Shulman, Gloria Valentine and Tal Rosenzweig. Toronto Centre for the Arts, Studio Theatre, 5040 Yonge St., Feb. 20 to March 2. www.teatrontheatre.com
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Names in the News: Debbie Werner, who joined the Toronto Jewish Film Festival as director of operations in 2009 and became managing director in 2012, was recently appointed TJFF’s executive director, festival co-founder and artistic director Helen Zukerman announced last week. TJFF describes itself as the largest Jewish film festival in the world. Its 22nd season runs May 1 to 11, 2014.
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Names in the News II: Howard Rotberg, who heads the publishing company Mantua Books, is also a writer and property developer, and now an artist. Recently he announced he created several digital works of art on political and cultural themes. He is selling limited numbers of prints of these works for $250 to $500 each, “with sale proceeds going to my publishing company that publishes pro-Israel and anti-cultural relativism authors around the world who are being shunned by mainstream left-liberal publishing houses.” Details at www.mantuabooks.com
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New & Recent CDs: One hundred years after the births of songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (both in 1913), Toronto jazz vocalist Sam Broverman pays tribute to both titans in a new CD, Leftover Dreams. Cahn wrote, with Saul Chaplin, the 1936 classic Until the Real Thing Comes Along; with Van Heusen, All the Way and Call Me Irresponsible; and, with Jules Styne, Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry. These are among the 15 tracks on Leftover Dreams, which is available at www.brovermusic.com
Jordana Talsky’s debut album, Standard Deviation, features the Toronto vocalist-songwriter in eight jazzy selections including Old Devil Moon (Lane/Harburg) and When the Sun Comes Out (Arlen/Koehler). www.jordanatalsky.com
Toronto-based jazz singer Ilana Waldston’s new album, I Could Laugh Out Loud, features polished material by Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, and Irving Berlin, as well as lesser-known numbers such as Hanukkah in Santa Monica which she describes as “perhaps the first ever Chanukah cha cha number.” www.jazznlaughs.ca
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Jazz-Pride Partnership: This year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival is partnering with the World-Pride 2014 Toronto celebration this summer, beginning with a joint opening ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square on June 20. “What better way to kick off two of Toronto’s biggest festivals than with a co-presented free performance?” says Josh Grossman, artistic director of Toronto Downtown Jazz. Headliners of the jazz fest, which runs June 19 to 28, include Hiromi, Buika and Measha Brueggergosman. www. torontojazz.com.
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Arts in Brief
• Kidlit! a Jewish literary festival for children hosted by the Koffler Centre of the Arts and the Prosserman JCC, takes place Family Day, Feb. 17, at the Prosserman JCC, 4588 Bathurst St. Registration, kofflerarts.org or 416-638-1881.
• Tarragon Theatre presents Marry Me A Little, a “charming and bittersweet tale about love, loneliness and commitment” filled with Sondheim rarities from his early career. With Elodie Gillett and Adrian Marchuk; directed by Adam Brazier. Previews from Feb. 26, runs March 5 to Apr. 6. $21 to $53. 416-531-1827, www.tarragontheatre.com
• Museum Diaries, a six-part TVO series, takes viewers behind the scenes to unmask the mysteries of the Royal Ontario Museum. Each episode mixes science, history and intrigue as it variously explores ancient societies, the discovery of new species, dinosaurs, DNA and the mummies of ancient Egypt. Fakes & Frauds Exposed, the first in the weekly series, airs Tuesday Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.
• Tabletmag.com has published the late Yiddish writer Chava Rosenfarb’s diary entries upon being liberated from Bergen-Belsen in 1945. The “stunning document of survival” was translated by Rosenfarb’s daughter, Goldie Morgentaler, a professor of English at the University of Lethbridge. www.tabletmag.com
* Moving to Stand Still, the performative video work of Israeli artist Sigalit Landau, continues at the Koffler Gallery, 180 Shaw St., until April 6. 647-925-0643.