Currently at Actors’ Summit is the very funny romantic comedy “Handle with Care” by Jason Odell Williams. The play ran Off-Broadway recently and was the vehicle for the return of Carol Lawrence, who first struck Broadway gold as Maria in the original “West Side Story.” The story involves Ayelit (Natalie Sander Kern), who is visiting America with her grandmother Edna (Marci Paolucci). Edna unfortunately dies on Christmas Eve morning, and Ayelit is left with the task of shipping the body back to Israel for a prompt burial. Unfortunately, the delivery man, Terrence (Arthur Chu), loses the box with the grandmother inside. So he calls his best Jewish friend, Josh (Keith Stevens*), because he is sure he can speak Hebrew. Well, if it was only that easy! The results are comedic and surprisingly romantic, and a hot mess of characters navigating a crazy situation.
Constance Thackaberry* (director) does a great job with this piece, with great casting and keeping the pace cooking while knowing exactly when to dim the lights and let the moment simmer.
Kern (Ayelit) is FANTASTIC! If I were Actors’ Summit, I would rent a furnished apartment upstairs, install a fire station pole, and let her slide down into every show I produced. Kern is on full cylinders from the second the play begins and she never stops. A recent transfer from Pensacola, FL, she is an incredible addition to the acting chops in the area. She also handled the Hebrew with deft accuracy, while learning the language phonetically, and assisted by Hebrew Coach Oudi Singer. Both are masterful at what they do, as teacher and student. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Stevens embodies Josh with great comedic timing and one-liners to die for. With charm and a solid lovable character, he kills it in the role. He shows a beautiful arc of letting the past go and enabling himself to understand it is ok to have a future and love again.
Arthur Chu’s Terrence reminds me of Tom Arnold, if he graduated from Animal House--not the sharpest tool in the shed. Chu brings sublime dysfunction to his character. I would not be surprised if her had to use his own delivery GPS to get home. Playing it over the top with his amazing summations of life and intellect, he certainly is an audience favorite. Marci Paolucci brings a warm and loving quality to Edna. Without bravado, she establishes a great connection with the audience and with her on-stage daughter.
The production staff supports this production with aplomb. Kevin Rutan+ (Technical Director) does great work, as well as Anna Bose (Stage Manager) calling a great show.
There are a lot of laughs here, and some very impressive performances. I mean, seriously, where else can you see a Jewish Christmas play in the spring?
Kevin Joseph Kelly
*Member of Actors’ Equity, the professional association of actors and stage managers in the United States.
+Member of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
March 27 - April 13
$10-$33 Reserved Seating
Order Tickets Online
Actor's Summit at Greystone Hall
103 High Street, Sixth Floor
Akron, OH 44308