Monday December 17 4:17 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Two Sisters separated by Distance and War try to connect in "A Shayna Maidel"

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It’s 1946, and Rose Weiss (Bri Sudia), a modern young woman, has a good job. Her Manhattan apartment may be tiny, but it’s all hers, at least until her father, Mordechai Weiss (Charles Stransky), bangs on her door one morning to deliver the news that her long-lost sister was alive and arriving in New York on Tuesday. He tells Rose that her sister will live with her, so she needs to take time off work, that she should sleep on the couch and give her sister the bed, and to keep kosher.

Although Rose moved out, Mordechai still lives in Brooklyn with the same people who sponsored him as an immigrant, and manages their store. Mordechai is a man who always knows best – even when he doesn’t – so he makes a lot of decisions for his family without talking to them.

That night, Rose gets a surprise when her sister, Lusia Weiss Pechenik (Emily Berman), arrives at her door. When Lusia asked her not to tell their father about her early arrival, she agrees. They spend the weekend getting to know each other. Lusia is thin, pale and haunted. She’s searching for her husband and mourning the death of her baby. Rose tries to be compassionate and nurturing to her sister, but Lusia won’t let her.
Lusia has haunting dreams about Mama (Carin Schapiro Silkaitis) and her best friend, Hanna (Sarah Wisterman), who died in the concentration camp. She’s positive her husband, Duvid Pechenik (Alex Stein), is still alive although she can’t find his name on any of the lists.

When Mordechai shows up on Tuesday, he’s happy to see Lusia, but hurt and angry that his daughters didn’t call him. His daughters are hurt and angry right back. Lusia is angry with her father because he took Rose and left for America, leaving her and her mother behind, but she’s furious that he could have gotten them out before the war, but wouldn’t go into debt to do it. Rose is upset that her father would never tell her anything about her mother and sister.

I found myself tearing up when Mordechai and Lusia compared lists – Mordechai asking and Lusia confirming when and where his wife, his siblings and their spouses, and all the other family members died.
Collette Pollard’s vintage set really set the mood. I particularly loved that kitchen, especially the small wringer washing machine.

Anyone who sees “A Shayne Maidel” should gain a better understanding of immigration. It’s become a topic fraught with drama – and it’s such an easy target for political attacks that no one is interested in asking important questions like …
• Who are these people?
• Why are they trying so hard to get to America?
• Why don’t they look (dress) like us?
• Why don’t they learn/speak better English?

Emily Glick will replace Bri Sudia in the role of Rose Weiss starting October 22nd.

Special events:
• Post-Show Discussions on October 11th, 14th, and 17th.
• Pre-Show Discussions on September 30th and October 3rd.
• Company Member Discussion on September 23rd.
• Captioned Performance on September 29th.
• Sunday Scholars Panel Discussion on October 7th.

“A Shayna Maidel” runs through November 4th at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Avenue, Chicago (inside the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ). TimeLine offers discounted parking at the Standard Parking garages at Broadway Center, 2846 N. Broadway ($8 with validation); or the Century Mall, 2836 N. Clark ($9 with validation).

Running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes, with an intermission. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30; Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 4:00 and 8:00 pm; and Sundays at 2:00 pm. There is no performance on September 19th. There will be an additional matinee on Thursday, September 20th at 2:00 pm. Tickets range from $40-$54. FYI (773) 281-8463 x6 or www.timelinetheatre.com.