Cast members of “Indecent” rehearse Wednesday at Perseverance Theatre in preparation for the play’s scheduled debut on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Cast members of “Indecent” rehearse Wednesday at Perseverance Theatre in preparation for the play’s scheduled debut on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

‘Indecent’ features cast of multiple personalities retelling tale of controversial historic play

Actors take on many emotions, accents and personas in play debuting this weekend at Perseverance.

The casting call for all of the characters except one speaks volumes about the experience both the actors and audience are in for when Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” debuts this weekend at Perseverance Theatre.

“Plays several characters in the show,” notes one character description that is identical in most ways to four others. “Must be able to differentiate between characters physically, vocally, and stylistically. Roles vary from upbeat, snobby, and eager. Must be able to sing, dance, and do/learn Yiddish and Lithuanian accents. Must be willing to engage in both same-gender and opposite-gender kisses, same-gender touching and get rained on onstage. There will be an intimacy director.”

That’s the description for Chana, played by Jessica Faust, who responded to the call for a female solo vocalist ages 20-35 of any race/ethnicity. The variances for other characters are for traits such as emotions (“excitable, worn out or hopeless, and naive” for one male character and accidents (Polish for the same character).

Hannah Wolf (right), director of Perseverance Theatre’s production of “Indecent,” confers with cast members Chris Stahl (left) and Roblin Gray Davis during a rehearsal Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Hannah Wolf (right), director of Perseverance Theatre’s production of “Indecent,” confers with cast members Chris Stahl (left) and Roblin Gray Davis during a rehearsal Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The reason for the versatile cast is “Indecent” is about the story behind the real-life Yiddish play “God of Vengeance,” written in 1907 by Sholem Asch, which was subjected to censorship and fierce opposition due to its lesbian protagonists. “Indecent” follows the historic play during its troubled journey to stages on Broadway and in Europe.

“Except for one person they all play four or more roles,” said Hannah Wolf, who grew up in Juneau and now lives in Los Angeles, who is directing “Indecent.” “And so they’re constantly switching between characters and time periods because the play also crosses about 50 years. And we see the characters age on the actors. So we see the younger actors play younger versions of the characters and then the older actors play older versions of the characters. So it’s a massive, exciting challenge for actors and this company is really like showing up.”

“Indecent” is scheduled at Perseverance Theatre from Feb. 16 until March 3, before moving to the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Fine Arts Building Mainstage from March 16-24. The play was first produced in 2015, had a Broadway run in 2017, and won Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play and Lighting Design in a Play.

Ayla Rose Barreau (left) and Jessica Faust rehearse a scene for the stage play “Indecent” at Perseverance Theatre on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Ayla Rose Barreau (left) and Jessica Faust rehearse a scene for the stage play “Indecent” at Perseverance Theatre on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Wolf, who has worked in various roles for Perseverance Theatre for more than 20 years, said she accepted the role of directing when approached because she felt the theater’s space was ideally suited for the production.

“The play is really built on the audience always being seen — it’s a play about a play,” she said. “And so our audience in the Juneau space in Perseverance — and also in Anchorage — is really crucial. They are important members in how this troupe puts on the play.”

“And so because the Perseverance space is built in a way where the audience is really close to the stage and the actors are going to be in the aisles — it’s not interactive at all, but the physical intimacy with the audience in that space just lends itself to the idea that everybody is here on this evening and we are telling the story together.”

Playing the stage manager Lemml in the historic play — the one role not requiring a multitude of character traits — is Chris Stahl. Other cast members include Ayla Rose Barreau as Halina. Jack Scholz as Avram, Enrique Bravo as Mendel, Roblin Davis as Otto and Carin Silkaitis as Vera. Choreography is by Tatiana Pandiani, scenic design by Iman Corbani, lighting design is by C. Archer Touchet and costume design by Peggy McKowen.

The production will also feature live music by David Romtvedt on accordion, Beth Leibowitz on clarinet and Lisa Ibias on violin.

Ticket and additional information is available at www.ptalaska.org.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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