"Center of the Star" is the latest production in Cornerstone Theater Company's Faith-Based Theater Cycle, an ambitious four-year series examining how faith unites and divides the larger community.
Presented in association with the Greenway Arts Alliance at the Greenway Court Theatre, "Star" amusingly encapsulates the history of Jews in Southern California. However, playwright Yehuda Hyman's far-ranging and magically alchemical drama successfully melds historical overview, cabalistic musings and an intensely personal story of one woman's spiritual reawakening.
Subtitled "A Jewish Walking Tour of Los Angeles," the play is narrated by a mysterious Guide (Cornerstone founding member Peter Howard), an angel in human form who escorts a vivid gaggle of Jewish tourists around various Jewish bastions, past and present. But this Guide's driving purpose is luring successful photojournalist Jackie (Lisa Robins) back to Los Angeles to reconnect with her Jewish roots and, in so doing, to forgive the sister responsible for a life-altering tragedy.
Tracy Young's in-the-round staging features original music by Shishir Kurup and David Markowitz and choreography by the playwright and Jennifer Li Aldridge. Scenic designer Rachel Hauck's integral slide projections are a particular triumph.
As with other Faith-Based productions, the cast is "community specific," a blend of professional actors and non-pros from the community at large. Under Young's astute direction, the divide is hardly noticeable. Especially effective are the droll Howard, the dry Robins and the passionate Andrew Cohen as a troubled young Jew whose connection to the action seems bafflingly extraneous -- until Hyman's glorious denouement, which ties up all loose ends splendidly.
'Center of the Star'
Where: Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles
When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 and 7 p.m.
Ends: Feb. 29
Contact: (323) 655-7679, Ext. 100
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes