'Sawyer' for JEST's 20th

Sold-out English-speaking production enhances the children's play with songs and costumes.

JEST (Jerusalem English-Speaking Theater) is kicking off its twentieth anniversary celebration with the much-loved American classic, Tom Sawyer. The play, based on Mark Twain's 1876 bestselling novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, paints an idyllic picture of boyhood along the Mississippi River. Under the guidance of veteran JEST director Leah Stoller, the cast of 15 children and 10 adults enhance the simple children's play with songs and costumes. Called "an American classic with music," Tom Sawyer will be performed for nearly sold out crowds of children and adults alike. The lead role of Tom, a mischievous boy with an active imagination, is performed by Maayan Shrell-Fox. Natan Bateman plays Tom's outcast sidekick Huckleberry Finn, while Moriyah Green takes on the role of Becky, Judge Thatcher's attractive daughter who stirs Tom's romantic sensibility. Though the cast is largely made up of native Hebrew speakers, the talented child actors tackle the show in English. Since its inception, JEST - an all-amateur, all-volunteer operation - has received an outpouring of support from the community, says Stoller. The theater group was originally created for non-Hebrew speakers unable to understand Israeli theater. But now, after a successful 20-year run, it also attracts native Israelis who appreciate English theater. Three of the five showings are already sold out, but tickets are still available for Wednesday, January 11 at 8:30 p.m. and Thursday, January 12 at 8 p.m. at the Hirsch Theater, Beit Shmuel, Mercaz Shimshon. Tickets and information at (02) 642-0908 or 620-3455.