Theater Review 88.
(photo credit: )
Professional Women's Theater
Gerard Behar Center
Jerusalem May 13
As the name of the group suggests, Professional Women's Theater's "Spotlight 2009" performance on Wednesday night was indeed professional, and the lineup of 11 women recently selected in the organization's Wanna Be a Star competition - plus assorted guest artists - proved that women-only productions need not compromise on a high standard of talent.
Many of the women who showcased their singing, dancing and acting abilities in the competition finale have been practicing their art for years, and several have had professional training. There was little difference, however, between the level of talent displayed by the finalists and that of the guest performers; most of the newcomers were obviously comfortable on the stage, and producer Annie Orenstein told The Jerusalem Post that the finalists had been deliberately interspersed with the veteran artists in the evening's program to show that they already belonged in that league - a decision that was evidently well-founded.
While PWT does not specify a preference for religious content in its competition (its stated aim is "to advance and promote female performers' careers throughout Israel"), most of the women strove to connect their performances to Jewish spiritual sources. Charismatic young singer Shaindel Antelis, for instance, introduced her pop tune "When I Get a Raise" as a reminder to appreciate God's blessings, and other song lyrics were largely based on biblical and Talmudic verses and concepts - even original pieces, such as Linda Tomer's powerful "The Prayer," and "Grow" by Michal Yardeni and Yiskah Sarah Petit.
Guest dancer Avital Schwartz's impressive "Binyanim Atzmi'im," a dreamlike modern acrobatic piece on a rope, was described as expressing "the Jewish woman's yearning to connect to her source and purpose while being grounded in the material world."
A particular treat was guest performer and soul singer Nomi Teplow, whose "Rikdi Rachel" (Dance, Rachel) put an inspiring new spin on the classic image of the weeping matriarch, and whose rendition of Reva L'Sheva's "Ahavat Yisrael Baneshama" brought the audience to its feet to join in the dancing.
Despite some technical difficulties, the performers managed to overcome them gracefully, and the supportive and relatively patient audience made for an overall pleasant, friendly atmosphere.