Photo by Mikhail Torich
Eric Phelps (r.) stars as Paul, apparent actuality abating his boyish brother Danny — played by John Garvey — in a arena from “Leaving Brooklyn.”
By Tammy Scileppi
Some of the best plays assume to be the ones that are aggressive by gritty, poignant, sometimes amusing real-life events, and absolute people.
That’s what makes Brooklyn-born and Jamaica, Queens-raised writer, Jeff Mandels’ newest endeavor, “Leaving Brooklyn,” such a relatable and allusive story.
Directed by Tony-nominee Bill Russell (“Side Show”), this bottomward to apple account examines all those adored things that anybody holds dear, including family, friends, love, and for abounding New Yorkers, baseball. And you’re apprenticed to acquisition that’s what makes it a accurate winner.
Let’s face it. Activity — the complicated, roller coaster ride that it is — is a mix of joys and sorrows. So, it’s abating to watch and acquaintance article accustomed that you can acquaint was accounting beeline from the heart.
Luckily, you can t Queens Theatre’s New York premiere of “Leaving Brooklyn” this weekend, through Oct. 21.
So, why Brooklyn?
“Everyone in the apple has heard of Brooklyn. It provides resonance,” Mandels said, answer that it’s the play’s specificity that makes this adventure so universal. “The added specific the adventure the greater the admirers engagement.”
The year is 1955. Eisenhower is in appointment and association are afterward the Dodgers’ countdown to their aboriginal Apple Series Championship. The comedy centers about the Feldmans, a blue-collar, baseball-loving family, whose patriarch, Lee, is a above accessory alliance baseball player. Working adamantine to accommodate for his adoring wife, Dot, and their two sons, Paul and Danny, Lee tries to eke out a active by demography on assorted architecture jobs.
While an able-bodied Paul has been arrive to a Dodgers training camp, we appear to accept that his boyish brother, Danny, isn’t destined to comedy baseball. And a bright Aunt Pearl, who is up from Florida, livens things up with her amative adventures.
Before his new comedy came about, Mandels wrote a adventure alleged “Johnny Boy.” It all started with an Aha! moment.
“Shortly afterwards 9/11, my daughters and I alternate to New York (from Seattle) for my mom’s funeral. I busy a car and collection accomplished the breadth in Jamaica area I grew up,” he recalled. “I anchored the car for a few account and aloft abrogation I anticipation to myself, ‘I accept to address a comedy about this place.’ And I did. It’s now alleged ‘Leaving Brooklyn.’”
The accomplished casting includes an absorbing mix of acclimatized New York performers, as able-bodied as one amateur authoritative his able amphitheater debut.
You may accept apparent Jonathan Gregg (Lee) in accepted television shows including “Ray Donovan,” “Jessica Jones,” and “High Maintenance.” He has additionally performed in several plays, as did Barbra Wengerd (Dot), who additionally appeared on TV in “Law and Order: SVU,” “The Family,” and “I Shudder.”
According to Mandels, rehearsals were captivated at Ripley-Grier Studios on West 38th Street in Manhattan. And from the account at Queens Theatre in November 2016 until aperture night, the absolute action took about two years.
“This is a atom of the absolute time involved. From apperception to its aboriginal assembly by Garry Marshall at Garry’s Falcon Theatre in Burbank, Calif., to the accepted production, has been abounding years,” Mandels said. “I ashore the comedy in a drawer for about a decade to assignment on others and took it out afresh in 2015-2016 to resume assignment on it. Afterlight afterwards afterlight afterwards revision. They say, ‘You never accomplishment a play, you artlessly carelessness it.’”
Mandels said his admired affair was watching the director, casting and artistic aggregation “make abracadabra and accompany the comedy to life.”
The constant baseball fan was acquisitive to allotment some absorbing capacity about his growing up years in Queens, with TimesLedger readers.
“I actual abundant enjoyed active in Jamaica. Good times, addicted memories, aboriginal loves,” he said. “I abounding PS 95, again Van Wyck Junior High and Jamaica High School.”
As an adolescent, adolescent Jeff consistently played brawl in the streets with friends.
Mandels confused to Greenwich Village about 1971, lived there for about a dozen years and again confused to Seattle, Wash., in 1983.
He and his wife, who is a benumbed instructor, currently alive on a horse acreage in Sammamish, Wash., about 22 afar east of Seattle.
And now, Mandels is animated to be back, visiting his hometown and debuting his play.
While autograph wasn’t consistently his passion, attractive back, Mandels said he began to apprehension the appulse his acknowledge you addendum were accepting with accompany and he started autograph “whatever and wherever” he could.
“I took black classes at the New School for playwriting and radio drama, and again absolutely started autograph my aboriginal comedy in 1975, but set it a until anon afterwards 9/11. I took a bit of a break,” he recalled.
Besides “Leaving Brooklyn,” he has accounting three added plays, “Speech,” “Who loves ya, baby?” and his accepted autograph project, “Informed Consent.”
Queens Theatre’s Executive Administrator Taryn Sacramone said the area is captivated to accompany Mandels’ latest assembly to the date in the World’s Borough.
“I’m appreciative that we are bearing ‘Leaving Brooklyn,’” Sacramone said. “It’s about ancestors and the adulation and conflicts that appear from family. It’s a absolute antithesis amid hardships and joy. I anticipate it’s a adventure that will bell with our audiences.”
The bulletin he wants to convey, according to Mandels, is that “We shouldn’t booty time, or anyone we apperceive and adulation for granted, because we don’t absolutely apperceive what tomorrow brings.”
“Many plays blow the intellect. Some plays blow the heart. Fewer plays accept an access on both,” he added.
“Leaving Brooklyn” will adroitness the date at Queens Theatre — amid at 14 United Nations Ave. South in Corona — Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21, at 3 p.m. Tickets amount $20 and can be purchased by calling the box appointment at (718) 760-0064 or by visiting www.queenstheatre.org.
Posted 12:00 am, October 18, 2018
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