Adam Immerwahr to Make DC Directorial Debut with Theater J's The Last Schwartz

Aug 9, 2016
The Last Schwartz

Nothing is funnier than family dysfunction. The Last Schwartz begins a year after Papa Schwartz's death and the entire Schwartz family is on their last legs--except of course for Papa, who is in the ground. Norma's husband isn't speaking to her, Herb and Bonnie are having baby troubles, and Simon wants to be an astronaut. Throw a sexy wanna-be Hollywood starlet into the mix, and you've got the recipe for a memorial service gone perfectly wrong. Will the Schwartz family survive? Will their connection to their culture and heritage live on? And will any of it matter if our planet doesn't remain habitable, anyway?

"When I finished reading this play, I immediately knew it was the perfect way to start my first season at Theater J," says Adam Immerwahr, Artistic Director of Theater J. "It is an exquisite and delicious comedy, full of joy and delight, even as it asks us to think about the very future of Judaism and humanity itself. Whether you are Jewish or not, you'll recognize the Schwartz family instantly, and I know you will be thrilled to spend this very surprising, very moving, and very funny evening with them."

Deborah Zoe Laufer has written seven full-length plays. Her first play, The Last Schwartz, was part of a reading of Julliard playwrights at Florida Stage, which was produced their following season, marking Laufer's first professional production. Since then, her plays have been produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Geva Theatre Center, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Portland Stage, and over 80 other theaters around the country, in Germany, Russia, and Canada. Her play, End Days, was awarded The ATCA Steinberg citation and appeared at Ensemble Studio Theatre through an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant. Informed Consent, a New York Times Critic's Pick, which was a Sloan Commission and was produced in 2015 by Primary Stages. Laufer is a recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, the Lilly Award, and has received grants and commissions from The Edgerton Foundation, the NEA, and NNPN. Her plays have been developed at PlayPenn, The Eugene O'Neill NPC, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ojai, The Missoula Colony, The Cherry Lane Alternative, The Dramatists Guild, New Georges, The Lark, Asolo Rep, and the Baltic Playwrights Conference.

The Last Schwartz will be directed by Theater J's Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr, who will be making his DC directorial debut with this production. He was most recently the Associate Artistic Director at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. NYC directing credits include productions at The Public, Theater Row (both for Summer Play Festival), Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Wild Project, and NYU's Studio Tisch. Internationally, he directed the African premiere of The Convert in Zimbabwe (nominated for the National Arts Medal Award, Zimbabwe's highest arts award). He has directed and developed work for McCarter Theatre, Luna Stage, Hangar Theatre, Bristol Riverside, Premiere Stages, Playwrights Theatre of NJ, PlayPenn, the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia Artists' Collective, Princeton Summer Theater, Westminster Choir College, Theatre Masters, and Passage Theatre Company in Trenton, where he served as Resident Director. Adam is the recipient of a 2008 Drama League Directing Fellowship and the 2010 NJ Theatre Alliance "Applause Award." Adam was the winner of the 2014 Emerging Nonprofit Leader Award presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University's Center for Excellence and the Center for Non-Profits.

The eldest Schwartz siblings will be played by Sasha Olinick (Herb) and Barbara Pinolini (Norma). Olinick has appeared at Theater J in G-d's Honest Truth, Life Sucks (or the Preset Ridiculous), Yentl, The Hampton Years, and Our Class. Pinolini previously appeared at Theater J in Our Suburb, and has been seen locally at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and Olney Theatre. The two younger Schwartz brothers, both making their Theater J debut, will be played by Andrew Wassenich (Simon) and Billy Finn (Gene). Wassenich has performed at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth, and others, while Finn has been seen at Folger Theatre, Round House Theatre, and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Herb's wife will be played by Anne Bowles (Bonnie) who has been on House of Cards, understudied on Broadway with Manhattan Theatre Club and Lyceum Theatre, and performed locally with Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre, and Ford's Theatre. Gene's young starlet girlfriend will be played by Emily Kester (Kia) who has performed with Imagination Stage, Studio Theatre, and Constellation Theatre.

The artistic team includes set designer James Fouchard, lighting designer Nancy Schertler, costume designer Kelsey Hunt, and props designer Kevin Laughon.

The Last Schwartz runs September 7 through October 2, 2016 at Theater J in the Edlavitch DCJCC's Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater. Tickets are available starting at $37 at or (202) 777-3210.

Theater J, a program of the Edlavitch DCJCC, produces thought-provoking, publicly-engaged, personal, passionate and entertaining plays and musicals that celebrate the distinctive urban voice and social vision that are part of the Jewish cultural legacy. Acclaimed as one of the nation's premiere playwrights theaters, Theater J presents cutting edge contemporary work alongside spirited revivals, and is a nurturing home for the development and production of new work by major writers and emerging artists exploring many of the pressing moral and political issues of our time. Dedicated first to a pursuit of artistic excellence, Theater J takes its dialogues beyond the stage, offering an array of innovative public discussion forums and outreach programs that explore the theatrical, psychological and social elements of our art. We frequently partner with those of other faiths and communities, stressing the importance of exchanging of views among a great variety of people wishing to take part in frank, humane conversations about conflict and culture.