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I Now Pronounce
by Tasha Gordon-Solmon
Directed by Edward Coffield
New Jewish Theatre
May 18, 2019

Graham Emmons, Jessica Kaddish
Photo by Jon Gitchoff
New Jewish Theatre

For the last show of its 2018-2019 season, New Jewish Theatre has invited its audiences to a wedding. Tasha Gordon-Solmon’s I Now Pronounce is probably best described as a comedy with dramatic moments, telling a series of inter-connected stories within the context of one eventful wedding. As directed by NJT’s Artistic Director Edward Coffield, the production is a sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious, highly memorable event.

The structure of the play is, for the most part, episodic, with stories playing out over the course of one night involving the wedding of Nicole (Jessica Kaddish) and Adam (Graham Emmons), detailing the aftermath of an unexpected and shocking event that happens during the ceremony. An aging, forgetful Rabbi (Craig Neuman) introduces the story with some background information that gets increasingly mixed up as the speech–along with the mimed ceremony–progresses. Then, it’s over, and as familiar “wedding reception”-type songs play over the scene transitions, the story in all its comedy and drama unfolds. We meet the bride and groom, who individually try to deal with the events of the ceremony and its implications for their relationship, as well as the bridesmaids and groomsmen, including the bubbly, adventurous Michelle (Delaney Piggins), the initially more level-headed Eva (Frankie Ferrari), the brash, crass Dave (Will Bonfiglio) and the recently married but lovelorn Seth (Ryan Lawson-Maeske). Through the course of the evening, the characters interact and play out dramas of their own, involving some commonly accepted “wedding story” cliches, but also with some real moments of insight. There’s also a fun concurrent side story involving a trio of flower girls (Millie Edelman, Abby Goldstein, and Lydia Mae Foss) who find their own adventures and offer their own unique perspective of events. Although sometimes it seems like too much is going on at once, ultimately it’s a fun story and a celebration of hope in the midst of chaos and unpredictable life events.

This is an ensemble show, with a fairly broadly characterized cast of characters, and the actors play their parts well. Emmons and Kaddish, as the loving but sometimes combative newlyweds, lead a fine cast of local performers. Also strong are Piggins as the well-meaning but flighty Michelle, Lawson-Maeske as the sullen Seth, well-matched with Ferrari as the seemingly dependable but surprising Eva, and Bonfiglio in a somewhat unusual role for him as the boorish Dave. Neuman has some excellent moments as well, starting off the play memorably as the Rabbi, and young Edelman, Goldstein, and Foss are simply delightful as the flower girls. It’s an excellent, cohesive ensemble with strong chemistry, contributing to the overall comic energy of this production.

The whole wedding atmosphere is represented with authenticity here by means of David Blake’s detailed set, Michele Siler’s meticulously well-suited costumes, and excellent lighting by Tony Anselmo and sound by Amanda Werre. The choice of music throughout the production is especially notable, as well–with hits from ABBA, Cyndi Lauper, and others featured in the transition scenes and seeming especially appropriate for the setting. Director Edward Coffield’s staging is well-paced, as well, building up to a fun, upbeat conclusion.

I Now Pronounce is a memorable conclusion to the season for New Jewish Theatre. It’s not the deepest of stories, but there are some poignant moments and a lot of well-timed comedy. What stands out the most, though, is the top-notch cast. The curtain call is a real treat, as well.

Ryan Lawson-Maeske, Will Bonfiglio, Graham Emmons
Photo by Jon Gitchoff
New Jewish Theatre

New Jewish Theatre is presenting I Now Pronouce at the Marvin & Harlene Wool Studio Theatre at the JCC’s Staenberg Family Complex until June 2, 2019

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