LEWISTON — It’s a very good evening at the theater when you walk out smiling, and glad you met some people you would like to visit again.

That’s the warm feeling you’ll get from “Crossing Delancey,” the current production at The Public Theatre.
Five excellent actors deliver a just-right blend of cultural and generational challenges as “Bubbie, a feisty Jewish grandmother, insists that a matchmaker is the cure for grand-daughter Izzy’s appalling unmarried condition.
Deanna McGovern as Isabel and Ben Rosenblatt as Sam, the pickle man, are the objects of Bubbie’s well-intentioned efforts with matchmaker Hannah. McGovern and Rosenblatt are making their first appearances on The Public Theatre stage, and they are well-paired in the romantic lead roles.
Carole Schweid gives a spot-on powerhouse performance as Bubbie and Marina Re’s portrayal of the persistent matchmaker provides lots of laughs.
Peter Simon Hilton also gives a fine performance as Tyler Moss, a self-centered author whose visits to Izzy’s uptown bookstore lead her to misguided infatuation.
Under the direction of Christopher Schario, TPT’s executive/artistic director, “Crossing Delancey” is a sure-fire audience pleaser. Comfortable and easy-going are words that sum up his presentation of “Crossing Delancey.”
That’s high praise for this show, because The Public Theatre has a big local following for this brand of entertainment. A large audience at opening night gave resounding approval.
Schweid’s portrayal of 80-year-old Bubbie is delightful. She captures all the familiar Jewish characteristics of New York’s Lower East Side. Food is central to those traditions, and she always has something to offer her guests. The kitchen table is her arena in the unrelenting matchmaking endeavors.
Theatrical credits for Schweid include the original cast of the famous musical, “A Chorus Line,” and she appeared on the TPT stage as the grandmother in “Over the River and Through the Woods” in the 2007-08 season. She reappeared in TPT”s productions of “Beau Jest,” “Deathtrap,” “Rumors,” and “Broadway Bound.”

Hilton was in TPT’s “Moonlight and Magnolias” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

McGovern and Rosenblatt come to the Lewiston stage with strong theatrical credentials. McGovern has appeared at many regional theaters and beyond. Rosenblatt recently returned to the United States from Paris where he performed in “Waiting for Godot” at the Commencez! International Beckett Festival.
An attractive and functional  set has been provided by Judy Staicer, who has been set designer for numerous TPT productions. The left side of the stage is Bubbie’s kitchen; the right side is the uptown bookstore; a park bench comes to front center in several scenes, particularly for Hannah’s collaring of Sam for some die-hard matchmaking.
Playwright Susan Sandler’s five-character stage version of “Crossing Delancey” was made into a 1988 movie with Amy Irving and Peter Riegar. The film has a considerably larger cast in which Sandler herself had a role. If the tone of “Crossing Delancy” seems to have a Hallmark Channel feel about it, that’s quite understandable. Sandler also wrote the screenplay for “Cost of Living,” a Hallmark film.
With lots of humor and heart, “Crossing Delancey” at TPT is excellent family entertainment. Lighting is by Bart Garvey and costumes by Kathleen Payton Brown.
The Public Theatre’s annual silent auction is being held in the lobby during the run of the production. Also offered is a free pre-show wine-tasting to be held in the theater lobby on Thursday, May 12, beginning at 6:30 p.m. It’s hosted by Rails Restaurant.
Remaining performances of “Crossing Delancey are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, May 12 and 13, at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15. There is an extra matinee at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14. Tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for 18 and under.
For tickets call 782-3200 or visit www.thepublictheatre.org.
The Public Theatre is at 31 Maple St., Lewiston.


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