‘Sisters Rosensweig’ puts females at forefront at Kent County Theatre Guild

From left, Rebbeca Craft as Sara Goode, Terri Faust as Pfeni Rosensweig and Patti Gatto as Gorgeous Teitelbaum, star in “The Sisters Rosensweig,” which starts tonight at the Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The story of three middle-aged Jewish-American sisters, “The Sisters Rosensweig,” takes the stage at the Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse starting this weekend for a run of five shows.

The witty and heartfelt piece centers around a dinner party in honor of Sara Goode, a successful American banker celebrating her 54th birthday at her residence in London.

The Wendy Wasserstein-penned play originally ran on Broadway in 1992 and earned five Tony nominations, including Best Play, and one win for actress Madeline Kahn.

“The Sisters Rosensweig” is being performed for the first time by the Kent County Theatre Guild, but co-director Maureen Levine is taking her second stab at directing the show after doing it while living in New Jersey about 15 years ago.

“I actually prefer comedies but I’ve always loved Wendy Wasserstein’s writing. So obviously this show is a joy to direct,” said Ms. Levine, who is at the helm with Nancy Muller.

She’s been involved in theater since she was only 5 years old, coming from a home of thespians and going on to marry a theater lover.

The cast of the Kent County Theatre Guild’s production of “The Sisters Rosensweig,” is comprised of, from left, Bruce Leister as Geoffrey Duncan, Paul Janiga as Merv Kant, Terri Faust as Pfeni Rosensweig, Patti Gatto as Gorgeous Teitelbaum, Adara Ryan as Tess Goode, Steve Givens as Nick Pym, Mason Taylor as Tom Valinus and Rebbeca Craft as Sara Goode. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“I’ve just always loved the theater,” she said. “Even after doing it for years, there are always new experiences and new challenges you meet along the way.”

Although Ms. Levine said the challenges with this production have been few.

“It’s been a pleasure working with this cast and all our stage crew are very experienced. Everyone’s really been doing a great job since day one,” she said.

The eight-member cast consists of veterans with more than 25 years of experience to an actor participating in her first show.

Terri Faust of Clayton decided to audition after talking to an actor friend and hearing how interesting and fun being in a production can be.

“I decided to come audition and didn’t expect to get the part but I was really excited when I got the call a week or two later,” she said.

“So far the experience has been great. It’s interesting walking in someone else’s shoes and it’s been fun to do something outside my comfort zone.”

Her character, Pfeni, is the most eccentric of the three sisters, a journalist who travels around the world and refuses to settle down in any one place for too long.

From left, Paul Janiga as Merv Kant, Adara Ryan as Tess Goode, Mason Taylor as Tom Valinus and Steve Givens as Nick Pym, gather for a scene from “The Sisters Rosensweig.” The Wendy Wasserstein play was nominated for five Tonys and won one. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Ms. Faust has had plenty of support along the way, especially from her castmate Rebecca Craft of Slaughter Beach who has been involved with the Kent Theatre Guild since the early 1990s.

“This is my first time acting in about 15 years because there just aren’t very many parts for women of a certain age,” said Rebecca Craft of Slaughter Beach portraying the role of Sara.

“But since the play does focus on middle-aged characters, I think it’s a show a lot of audience members will be able to relate to.”

After coming back from such a long acting hiatus, Ms. Craft said it has been a learning curve getting back into the groove of memorizing lines and perfecting timing, but the cast has been great working together.

Mason Taylor of Dover is well in practice, acting at Caesar Rodney High School and participating in the occasional guild show.

“I actually was put in drama class by accident freshman year,” said Mr. Taylor, who portrays Tom, the boyfriend to Sarah’s daughter Tess, who is played by Adara Ryan.

“I decided to wait it out and just see how things went until I could get assigned to a different class but I ended up liking it and have stuck with it through all of high school.”

He’s acted in a wide array of plays and has been thriving during the leadup to “The Sisters Rosensweig.”

“I love everyone at the Theatre Guild and everyone comes out to every rehearsal trying their hardest and pushing one another to do their best and I think that’s really going to produce a great show,” he said.

“My character is a rebel and revolutionary in the early 1990s,” he said. “He pushes his girlfriend Tess to get out there and do things she wants even though she has a protective mother.”

All of the show’s characters, including the three sisters, are very different people, which audience members may be able to relate with their own families.

“It’s really a shame that this story has to be condensed into only two hours because each character is very complex and has a story of their own to tell,” Ms. Faust said.

The tale serves as a reminder that even in middle age, all of life’s journeys have yet to take place and there’s always a new world of possibilities awaiting you.

“I think that people will see some of themselves in the show, which is what the writer goes for in all her plays,” Ms. Craft said.

Bruce Leister as Geoffrey Duncan courts Terri Faust as Pfeni Rosensweig. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Ms. Faust agreed.

“We have all been in a place where we thought either a relationship or some sort of life plan was heading in a certain direction when it wasn’t, and from those realizations come challenges but also new possibilities.”

Guild veterans Patti Gatto, playing the third sister, talk radio host Gourgeous Teitlebaum; Bruce Leister as the on-again, off-again, bisexual lover of Pfeni, Geoffrey Duncan; and Paul Janiga, who portrays Merv Kant, a friend of
Geoffrey’s, help round out the cast.

This show is not recommended for children under 13.

“The Sisters Rosensweig” takes the stage at the Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and June 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10 to $20 and available online at kctg.org or at the door, 140 E. Roosevelt St., Dover.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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