by Jennifer Maisel
Directed by Jessica Bauman
A funny and moving new play about the joys and heartbreak of family. Faced with their father Marvin’s worsening Alzheimer’s, the four grown Price daughters return for the final Passover celebration in their childhood home. Lily, their overwhelmed mother who’s taken up cursing, is planning to put Marvin in a nursing home and sell the house. Each daughter arrives with her own baggage: Michelle picks up a total stranger to pose as her nice Jewish boyfriend; Angel seduces her ex on the roof; Claire fights with her fiancé about wedding plans; Julia, pregnant with her lesbian life partner, psychoanalyzes everyone except herself. Marvin does not recognize any of them. But when he takes the lead at their last seder, a magical moment occurs which gives the women the strength and courage to finally move forward.
THE LAST SEDER received a National Foundation for Jewish Culture New Plays for Production grant, before receiving the Fund for New American Plays Award from the Kennedy Center, as well as the Charlotte Woolard Award for Promising New Voice in American Theatre.The play has been produced at The Organic Theatre, Chicago; Theatre J, DC; Ensemble Studio Theatre -LA Project; Teatro da Juventude, Brazil; Park Square Theatre, St Paul; and St. Louis Repertory. The screenplay adaptation of THE LAST SEDER won Showtime’s Tony Cox Award.
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This gentle, comic drama by Jennifer Maisel about a family coming together during a difficult time features simmering tensions that can occur at any time of year. Much to the credit of the director, Jessica Bauman, The Last Seder runs smoothly….Greg Mullavey, as Marvin and Kathryn Kates, as Lily are standouts. Mr. Mullavey is unafraid to portray the demeaning effects of Alzheimer’s before flashing glimpses of the splendid father and husband Marvin once was; Ms. Kates slides knowingly into the demanding role of Lily, furious at her lot but determined not to despair. …. Ms. Maisel has sketched a touching portrait of an aging family facing enormous change…. her play is steeped in universal themes audiences of any affiliation can appreciate… it’s in the spirit of thanks for blessings received — a mindfulness that’s always in season.
– The New York Times CLICK HERE for full review.
THE LAST SEDER, a heartwarming play about a family gathering for Passover amidst difficult personal trials, is a must-see….Standouts include Gaby Hoffmann and Kathryn Kates. Known for her roles in Sleepless in Seattle and Now and Then, Hoffmann exhibits substantial maturity and depth, while Kates’ comedic timing balances out the story’s sad undercurrent. Go to this show (but remember to bring along a box of tissues when you do)!”
– Inside New York
A warm and offbeat humor courses throughout“
– The Daily News
An intelligent and sympathetic story that is superior to much of what finds its way to the Great White Way. And director Jessica Bauman does extraordinary work.”
– The Jewish Daily Forward
“Marvin, the patriarch (heartbreakingly played by Greg Mullavey)…His wife, Lily (Her feisty indifference is perfectly captured by Kathryn Kates)…Scenic designer Gabriel Hainer Evansohn’s pitched-roof set is a marvel…[an] uniformly excellent cast.”
– BackStage CLICK HERE for full review.
A spectacularly beautiful and moving event that will have you weeping with both sadness and joy. Sharply written without being overly sentimental, the Seder captures each character’s situation with intelligence and grace, tenderly displaying their humanity and showing just what it means to be a family. Regardless of religious belief, each person takes part in the proceedings, leading to a heartbreaking finale that you will never forget. It will stay with you at Seders to come — and make you want to attend a Seder if you never have before.”
– This Week in New York CLICK HERE for full review.
Very entertaining…Director Jessica Bauman keeps the action flowing smoothly aided by Graham Kindred’s intricate lighting and Gabriel Hainer Evansohn’s imaginative set design. The older couple anchors the large and diverse ensemble, all of whom are committed to the material and well cast in their respective parts….its fine performances and timely message of inclusion make THE LAST SEDER a family gathering well worth attending. “
– Show Business Weekly
Relevant and timely….director Jessica Bauman capably keeps the plot aloft…a first-rate ensemble as they engage in banter, accusations, hair-pulling, love-making and fist fights….Maisel’s play touches a chord within its viewers. Who among us has not gone through some aspect of this family story?”
– All About Jewish Theatre
THE LAST SEDER connects with its audience…The show really shines. Best known for his portrayal as the husband of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Greg Mullavey’s performance is textured and layered… Jennifer Maisel’s script is touching.”
– Times Square Chronicles
The staging is poetic…. THE LAST SEDER will stay with the audience a long time. The humor, the delicious performances, the staging make a painful subject not only endurable, but entertaining.”
– Things I Love About New York City
The play builds well into a culminating point of catharsis for the entire ensemble when the story finally arrives at the actual Seder dinner itself. Greg Mullavey plays Marvin Price with brutal honesty that is undeniably heartbreaking. Any audience member who has been affected by the disease will recognize and relate …The performances in THE LAST SEDER come from honest, believable places….The piece at its core is undoubtedly coming from a good place.”
– Theatre Is Easy
A compelling drama…the acting is impressive.”
– The Playfixer
Kathryn Kates brings humor and nuance to the central role of Lily…And as Michelle, Gaby Hoffmann creates a complex portrait of a young woman struggling to please her father as he begins to vanish before her eyes… the strange connection that develops between Michelle and Kent (a quite likable Ryan Barry) is the play’s most unexpected delight.
– Capital New York
“Jennifer Maisel’s gentle drama…is steeped in themes and sentiments that resonate in any season….the main story benefits greatly from Mr. Mullavey’s standout performance.”
– The New York Times “Theater Listings, Jan 4-10, 2013” CLICK HERE for full review.