A Strange And Separate People

By Jon Marans

Directed by Kurt Schweickhardt

Jay and Phyllis are a young, Orthodox Jewish couple living in Manhattan who have managed to find a precarious balance in their complicated personal and religious lives. Their world is forever changed when they meet Stuart-a handsome, cocky, and strangely charismatic gay man who has just recently been awakened to his religion. A Strange and Separate People  is Jon Marans’ contemporary drama of betrayal and new beginnings that focuses on the struggle for many to embrace their identities while observing their religious beliefs

Opening October 12, 2013
Closing November 3, 2013

Playing Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 1 pm
There will be one Sunday evening performance on October 13 at 7 pm
Audio description on Sunday, October 27 at 1 pm

All performances will be held at the Hillcrest Center Theater
1978 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN 55116

To make a reservation call 651-647-4315.

Photo credit: Kerwin McCarthy



Funding was provided through a grant from the Howard B. & Ruth F. Brin Jewish Arts Endowment Fund, a fund of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation.

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We would like acknowledge Breadsmith for their support on this production.  

We would like acknowledge Breadsmith for their support on this production.  

Meet the Artists


Brandon Bruce (Jay) is a recent transplant to the Twin Cities and is excited to be making his debut with the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. His credits include the Cleveland Play House, Porthouse, Signal Ensemble, and Iowa Summer Rep. Brandon's favorite roles include Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Kulygin in Three Sisters, and Larry in Closer. Upcoming projects: Beacon from Belle Isle at Freshwater and The School for Lies at Park Square. www.brandon-bruce.com



Nate Cheeseman (Stuart) recently graduated from the University of Minnesota Guthrie BFA Program and looks forward to starting his career in the Twin Cities. While in school some of Nate's favorite roles include Don Antonio in The Rover, Vershinin in Three Sisters, and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice.  Nate also enjoys choreographing fight scenes for plays and hopes to further his training in that area of performance.



Elena Giannetti (Phyllis) is thrilled to return to MJTC this season.  Previous MJTC credits include Our Class, My Name is Asher Lev, The Triangle Factory Fire Project, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.  Additional acting credits include the Guthrie, Park Square, History Theatre, Penumbra, Mixed Blood, TRP, Children’s Theatre, Playwrights’ Center, Off Leash Area, MN Shakespeare Project.  Directing credits include two shows in the MN Fringe, plus assistant directing at Park Square, and TRP.



Kurt Schweickhardt (Director) A Strange and Separate People       marks Kurt’s sixth production that he has had the privilege of directing for MJTC.  Previous productions include The 75th , for the inaugural season; The Value of Names (which starred Artistic Director, Barbara Brooks), and Old Wicked Songs also by playwright Jon Marans.  Kurt has also performed at MJTC in The Shadow of the Valley He teaches at Normandale Community College, and is a freelance actor and director.


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Rebecca Shavit-Lonstein (Hebrew coach) previously provided Hebrew voice over as well as Hebrew coaching for MJTC’s recent production Handle with Care and Compulsion or the House Behind. As a child, she moved with her family to Israel, and then returned to the United States for college. She is married to Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein and is a stay-at-home mom for her three children, Noah, Naveh and Naomi.

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Paul Epton (Lighting Design) discovered theater lighting at Carleton College and was an award-winning designer in Detroit. Since moving to Minneapolis, he’s designed regularly for MJTC (over 40 shows, including Goats, My Name is Asher Lev, Women's Minyan, The Triangle Factory Fire Project, Rose, Old Wicked Songs, The Chosen), Mixed Blood Theatre, Off-Leash Area, Torch Theater, and the Jon Hassler Theater.


Gail Machov is new to the prop design experience but not new to MJTC.  She assisted in procuring props for last season's play Handle With Care.  She and her husband Steve Machov have been longtime supporters of the Theater and Steve is on the Board. Gail is excited for this opportunity to be involved with the Theater in a new way and  in the production of A Strange and Separate People. Gail by nature is a "collector of treasures" which makes her well suited for this new role. Gail thanks the crew for their guidance. 

Lisa Conley (Costume Design) previously designed Compulsion or the House Behind, Photograph 51My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, Our Class, and The Gospel According to Jerry at MJTC.  Other credits include Swandive Theatre (Crumble: Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake, The Baltimore Waltz, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)), Theatre Unbound (Murderess), and Z Puppets Rosenschnoz (Monkey Mind Pirates). She holds her B.A. from Hamline University and M.F.A. in Design from University of Georgia.


Montana Johnson (Sound Designer) Previous credits include: Walking Shadow Theatre Company: Reasons to be pretty, After the Quake, and Robots vs Fake Robots.  Mixed Blood Theatre:  Avenue Q. Theatre Latte Da:  Violet, The Full Monty, and Old Wicked Songs.  Minnesota Jewish Theatre: Parade, and The Magic Dreidels. Guthrie Theatre: Skiing on Broken Glass (upcoming), Embers (US Premiere), and Time Sensitive. Park Square Theatre: Dead Mans Cell Phone, Jekyll and Hyde, and Democracy.   Montana teaches Audio Technology and Sound Design for the Theatre at the University of Minnesota.




Kelli Tucker (Stage Manager) previously stage managed Handle with Care, Compulsion or the House Behind, Photograph 51, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, The Last Word…,Our Class, Goats and others at MJTC. Other stage management credits include Theatre in the Round (The Melville Boys) and Alexandria Area ArtsAssociation (Totally RED!). Kelli is also a freelance director with credits including The Phipps Center (Scheherazade, The Adventures of Peter Rabbit and His Friends, Lyle the Crocodile).