Edward Coffield, Artistic Director of the New Jewish Theatre, has announced two exciting, live and in-person performances to take place in the Fall and Winter of 2021.

The first show will be Ari Axelrod’s Jewish Broadway, featuring Broadway star Ari Axelrod.  Two performances are planned, Saturday evening, October 16 and Sunday afternoon, October 17.

The second show, Cabaret at the J:  A Little Song, A little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants! starring Eric Williams and Sharon Hunter are scheduled, on Saturday evening, December 18 and Sunday afternoon, December 19.

Tickets for all performances, which will be held at the Staenberg Family Complex in Creve Coeur, go on sale August 15 at newjewishtheatre.org

Coffield says, “We are so excited to return to live performances!  These amazing shows featuring top line talent are the perfect way to kick it off. 

We also look forward NJT’s return to the Wool Studio Theater beginning January 2022 when we will launch a full season of shows.”

ABOUT THE J:
The J is an interactive, multi-generational gathering place that offers a variety of programs and services to both the St. Louis Jewish community, and the community at large. The Jewish Community Center provides educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building and recreational programming and offers two, state-of-the art fitness facilities, all designed to promote physical and spiritual growth. Everyone is welcome at the J.

St. Louis’ vibrant theater community just got a little brighter with the addition of new performing arts organization Moonstone Theatre Company.

Moonstone was founded by St. Louis native Sharon Hunter, who serves as the company’s artistic director and producer. Hunter has made a name for herself nationally as a professional actor, singer, director and producer. Most recently Hunter was performing and producing in New York City, but decided to move back home to start Moonstone.  St. Louisans may recognize her as the original host and producer of KEZK’s “Pillow Talk” or her time hosting at Y98.

“Moonstone Theatre Company was founded in response to my vision for creating a cultural theatrical environment in St. Louis to inspire actors and artists to do their best work,” Hunter says. “St. Louis is a great theatre city and I think it’s wonderful to be a part of that cultural conversation. It is essential for the arts to contribute to this conversation particularly during challenging times.”

Hunter says the name Moonstone combines two things close to her heart.

“I have always loved the moon. I gain energy, clarity and inspiration from the moonlight. I knew I wanted the word moon somewhere in the company title,” she says. “I was also committed to finding a way to incorporate my former NYC acting coach, the late Peter Flint, and his name in there as well.  He was like a true father figure to me, and I thought that since “flint” is a stone then I could put that together and create Moonstone.”

Hunter says Moonstone will focus on producing works that challenge and enlighten audiences on important and socially relevant topics including equality, diversity, mental illness, addiction and sexual harassment and assault.

“Theatre truly is a reflection of life,” says Hunter. “I’m happy to be back in my hometown where I began and collaborate with so many talented artists and actors. There is something very special about returning to St. Louis and having the opportunity to bring new ideas and experiences to an art form I dearly love.”

“How exciting for St. Louis that another wonderful Theatre Artist with great entrepreneurial chutzpah is broadening our vibrant theatre community,” enthused Edward Coffield, the artistic director and producer at New Jewish Theatre.  “There is such great legacy here in St. Louis when savvy theatre practitioners are willing to plant roots and continue the tradition of great theatre in St. Louis.”

Moonstone’s debut production, “The House of Blue Leaves” by John Guare, will open at the Wool Studio Theatre at the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur, 63146) on Thursday, July 16, 2020, directed by Annamaria Pileggi. Auditions for the show will be held Saturday, October 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the JCC, and callbacks will be held at the theater on Monday, October 28. Those wanting more information about the audition process can register online here or email [email protected]

Moonstone Theatre Company’s Mission Statement

Moonstone Theatre Company is a new professional performing arts organization which will offer the community a wide range of quality theatrical productions while supporting local arts and education. Moonstone Theatre looks to inspire, entertain and challenge audiences with productions that range from the classics to new works. Moonstone Theatre Company celebrates the power of the theatre to illuminate our diversity and enlighten our shared humanity.

The New Jewish Theatre is proud to announce its 2019-2020 season, which opens in October. Artistic Director Edward Coffield introduced the lineup as an examination of identity that asks, “Who are we and how did we get here?”

The opening production honors the legacy of Neil Simon with his funny and sweet play, Brighton Beach Memoirs.

Next comes Fully Committed, a hilarious play and a complete tour de force, featuring forty wildly diverse characters played by one actor, NJT favorite, Will Bonfiglio.

Audiences will love the thought-provoking, beautiful play My Name is Asher Lev, adapted by Aaron Posner from the novel by acclaimed writer Chaim Potok. 

We are the Levinsons, by Wendy Kout, is a bittersweet, compelling story about parents and children, and people who come into our lives and change us. This will be only the second production of the play and a St. Louis premier.

The season closes with Stephen Sondheim’s Putting it Together, a witty and wonderful musical revue, featuring some of the greatest music written by the Broadway legend.

“I am thrilled to continue the tradition of theatre at the J. I think the plays and musical that comprise the 2019-20 season will engage and excite the community. In my brief time leading the New Jewish Theatre, I have learned that our audience loves the stories we share, and I know their lives are changed by that experience,” Coffield said.

The NJT performs at the J’s Wool Studio Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146). Season subscriptions are priced at $205 – $210. Subscription packages are available as a classic five-show package or the very popular NJT Flex Pass, which allocates six passes to be used at the patron’s discretion.

Single tickets will be available in mid-August. Subscriptions will be on sale May 13, 2019 at the NJT Box Office, by calling 314-442-3283 or online at newjewishtheatre.org

Beginning this weekend with the opening of “District Merchants,” the New Jewish Theatre will offer  free tickets to all furloughed government workers. 

In conversation with New Jewish Theatre and Jewish Community Center (JCC) staff members, the idea emerged as something they could do to show their support for the furloughed workers.

“Part of the work we do is share stories with the community and create conversations.  At a time when thousands of government employees are out of work we wanted to open our doors for them,” Edward Coffield , Artistic Director of NJT.  Any government employee can receive 1 free ticket to any performance of “District Merchants” by presenting a government work ID at the box office. District Merchants opens Thursday and runs through February 10th.  www.newjewishtheatre.org  314/442-3286

In addition to free theatre tickets, for the duration of the government shutdown, the JCC (with  locations in Creve Coeur and Chesterfield) will offer free membership for affected workers. To verify eligibility, they must show a current government-issued ID.

http://www.newjewishtheatre.org

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By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Edward Coffield likes to make people laugh.
As a director, his forte has been comedy, and this past year, he has helmed “Life Sucks” and “An Act of God” at the New Jewish Theatre, where he took over the reins as Artistic Director from longtime chief Kathleen Sitzer, who retired in July after 22 years.
Kathleen programmed the 2018-2019 season, and he collaborated with her. The season opened with “Raging Skillet” on Oct. 3, then “An Act of God” Nov. 29 – Dec. 16 and continues with the upcoming “District Merchants” Jan. 24 – Feb. 10, “Time Stands Still” March 28 – April 14, and “I Now Pronounce” May 16 – June 2, a wedding comedy, which he will direct.
In assuming the Artistic Director position, Coffield said he wanted to deepen and extend the relationship he had with the company for 16 years, most recently as associate artistic director.
“New Jewish has a very steady and loyal audience who are smart and love a great story,” he said.
During his tenure at NJT, he directed “Yentl,” the original 2005 production of “Driving Miss Daisy,” “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” and the award-winning “Jacob and Jack,” among many others. He was nominated for a Kevin Kline Award for “From Door to Door” and by the St. Louis Theater Circle for his work on the farce “Is He Dead?” for St. Louis Shakespeare.
Currently, he is working on “District Merchants,” which is being directed by Jacqueline Thompson.
This adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” takes love and litigation, deep passions and predatory lending to a new level as it explores race, religion, power and money in America.
“I am very excited to produce this play. When Kathleen Sitzer (NJT’s founding Artistic Director) was planning the 2018-19 season we had several conversations about producing ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ which we had produced previously in 2005. It is one of those plays that continues to remain relevant. The Jewish people read the Torah year after year. Not because the Torah changed but because we change. Maybe that is true with great plays, they should be revisited,” he said.
“Kathleen knew about this adaptation and we both like Aaron Posner the playwright (author of “Life Sucks”) – so it seemed like the perfect time to produce this play. Posner expertly blends humor, emotional truths and topics that make people think. He is able to create characters who are deeply flawed, like we are. In his ‘uneasy’ comedy, he wants us to look at a snapshot in time, the Reconstruction Era, but what he has written is relevant to audiences today,” he said.
What might be his calling card, the signature of a Coffield production?
“People tell me I have a knack for casting well,” he said.
Coffield recently directed the comedy “An Act of God,” which the New York Times referred to as “A gut-busting-funny riff on the never-ending folly of mankind’s attempts to fathom God’s wishes through the words of the Bible and use them to their own ends.”
In this 2015 play by David Javerbaum, God decides to introduce revised laws and doesn’t hold back.
“It’s funny, funny, funny,” he said, “plus Alan Knoll.”
Coffield and Knoll have worked on more than a dozen productions.
“We are close friends. He might be the funniest actor I know,” he said.
After three decades here, he will only take on certain projects.
“I will not direct a show that does not speak to me emotionally or intellectually,” he said.
In addition to running the J, he is on the faculty of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University, and freelances as a director. He has directed for Insight Theatre Company, St. Louis Shakespeare, Stray Dog Theatre, Ozark Actors Theatre and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and the former Orange Girls company.
He spent 28 years at The Rep as production manager.
“He understands how the theatre business works. He connects well with artists, technicians, staff and contributors,” said Steven Woolf, Artistic Director of the Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis, when Coffield was announced as NJT Artistic Director.
Working in the local theater community has its rewards, Coffield noted.
“We are a great theatre town and we continue to grow and expand. It is a very exciting time to be a theatre maker here,” he said. “I am so honored to be part of a great theatre community.”
The downside is: “There is a lot of theatre here and scheduling can be tricky,” he said.
As a new year is about to begin, he is excited about what’s ahead.
“I look forward to continue the growth and success of NJT,” Coffield said.
For more information, visit www.newjewishtheatre.org
Here are Edward’s answers to our Take Ten Questions:
Why did you choose your profession/pursue the arts?
“From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a producer. I suppose at that point, I did not really know what that meant. I have come to learn that it means leading the collaborative process of theatre on stage and off.”
How would your friends describe you?
“Funny.”
How do you like to spend your spare time?
“Avid Foodie and Cook.”
What is your current obsession?
“Old episodes of “Perry Mason.”
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
“As gregarious as I am, I am very shy.”
Can you share one of your most defining moments in life?
“Years ago, in summer stock, I was stage managing a production of “Hello, Dolly!” One night as we are about to start the title song, I looked in to the audience and watched a 60-something man put his arm around his (I presume) wife. They snuggled together and sang along at the top of their lungs. I was so touched, I laughed and then teared up. It was a great reminder of the power and sweetness that the theatre has to make people change.
Who do you admire most?
“My late twin brother Philip. An actor and director – he taught me about theatre and most importantly, he taught me how to laugh.”
8. What is at the top of your Bucket List?
“A trip to Italy, Israel, Argentina …..it’s a long list.”
What is your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?
“Farmer’s Markets.”
What’s next?
“Directing ‘I Now Pronounce’ for New Jewish Theatre.”
More about Edward:
Name: Edward (Eddie) Coffield
Age: 54
Birthplace: New Mexico
Current location: University City
Family: 2 cats (Barnaby and Cornelius), amazing father and siblings, and the greatest friends in the world.
Education: University of Texas at Austin
Day job: Artistic Director-Producer the New Jewish Theatre
First job: Long John Silver – “Ahoy, can I help you!”
Awards/Honors/Achievements: Multiple nominee Best Director- Circle Awards and Kline Awards
Favorite quote/words to live by: “Prance with vigor.”
A song that makes you happy: “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin.