It’s Jewdy’s Show; My Life As a Sitcom by Judy Gold and Kate Moira Ryan; original music by Judy Gold; Lyrics by Kate Moira Ryan and Judy Gold; additional material by Eric Kornfeld and Bob Smith. Directed by Amanda Charlton.
Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
Judy Gold; photo: T. Charles Erickson
A very Jewdy moment; photo: T. Charles Erickson
"There are no role models for us."
Growing up with television provided a respite for Judy Gold from her Jewish, New Jersey existence. Sitcoms showed her how "real" families lived and treated one another. Half hour bites of TV reality gave her the impression that somehow life could be wonderful with a mother who wore pearls to make dinner, teachers who were supportive and huggy, friends of all races and financial backgrounds would co-exist easily and it was okay to be a dike. Just as long as you never discussed it with your mother. All of it the perfect fodder on which to raise a stand-up comedian who just happened to be a 6 foot 3 inch tall Lesbian Jewess. Who had two sons. And wanted her own sitcom. Really.
That is the premise for a one-woman play at the Nikos Stage, part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival spaces, with almost familiar songs, about a girl named Judy Gold who lived that life described above. Is the show autobiographical? I would say it is. Is this public declamation of the story of how an emotionally abused child grew up - incessantly - to become a national treasure of little value worth your time? I would say it is.
Judy Gold is a funny, tall, talented woman. Her story, as she tells it in about eighty minutes without intermission, is hilarious. And don’t worry about the ethnic humor or the sitcom references. If you miss one now and then she will probably tell you why and not apologize for the joke or your inability to understand it.
The show plays out on a set designed by Andrew Boyce that provides ample space for Judy’s memories, and some of yours as well, to be emphasized by photography. Marcus Doshi lights the show so that Judy is always the brightest spot on the stage and Alex Neumann provides enough sound to make you wonder about how many people are actually in this show and where they might be hiding.
In the course of the evening Gold gets to play both her parents and her sister, her lover and her sons and her new lover and a psychiatrist. She gets to chat with television producers about her life as a sitcom. She manages to show us, rather then simply tell us about, her childhood, her college years, her early days in New York City, her life on the road and her relationship with the two boys she raises as a somewhat single mother. If you have ever wondered what a tour-de-force is, you can see for yourself as the actress and comedian puts herself through the paces of exposing as many sides of her personality and the personae who surround her as humanly possible in the time allowed.
Frankly, if she had added another ten minutes it would have been just fine with me. Her choices are wonderful and her comedy is both droll and affective. And effective too. For this short run in a theater with limited seating, the options allowed are run, do not walk, to the box office for tickets.
It’s Jewdy’s Show plays at the Nikos Theatre at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance at 1000 Main Street through July 4. For tickets and information call the box office at 413-597-3400 or go to www.wtfestival.org.