Best Actress: Most righteous onstage chemistry

Naomi Newman

Although the characters Traveling Jewish Theater cofounder Newman tends to play seem to have a lot in common, that’s not surprising considering that she writes much of her own material and she works extensively with a company that does shows about Jewish issues and history. So she’s usually tilted a little toward kindly yet mischievous Jewish women. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t play them with passion, variety, and a welcome lack of schmaltz. She can sure hold the stage — the recent Rose was a solid two hours, which many solo performers can’t manage without the aid of projections, costume changes, or outrageous Karen Finleyesque outbursts. Newman pulled it off with a hard bench, a glass of water, and the occasional reference to the magical uses of semen. But she’s also very funny when she plays with others, especially TJT coconspirator Corey Fischer, with whom she shares the magical chemistry bred of a nearly-thirty-year collaboration. That collaboration is based, as is the whole company, on the idea of tikkun olam or “healing the world,” a noble calling for any organization, but especially inspiring in a theater company — and its actors.

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