MJTC Launches its Holiday Show


October 28, 2014


The Chanukah Guest 

By Jenna Zark

Based on the book by Eric A. Kimmel

Directed by Candace Barrett Birk

A new MJTC commission and world premiere!

St. Paul, MN -- Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) will feature The Chanukah Guest, a new commission and world premiere production, as its holiday show this year. The Chanukah Guest will run from December 4 - 21, 2014 at Hillcrest Center Theater, 1978 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN 55116. This production is appropriate for children ages 3 and up. For tickets, call (651)647-4315 or visit mnjewishtheatre.org.

The Chanukah Guest is based upon the children’s book of the same title by Eric A. Kimmel. It tells the story of Bubba Brayna, who is quite old and cannot see nor hear well, but she makes the best potato latkes in the village. As she prepares for the first night of Chanukah, a knock at the door brings a most unexpected visitor. This charming, heartwarming, and imaginative tale explores the cultural traditions of Chanukah and will bring extra excitement to the holiday season for theatergoers of all ages.

The Chanukah Guest will actively engage children in the audience by opening each performance with interactive opportunities that will allow children to experience the production from a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective. 

Creative Team:

Jenna Zark (Playwright) is a playwright whose work was last produced at MJTC in last season’s holiday commission, The Magic Dreidels. Her work, A Body of Water, was published by Dramatists Play Service and was produced at Circle Repertory in New York. Recent Twin Cities productions include Alyeska at Blank Slate Theatre, A Great Miracle Happened Here at the Illusion Theater’s Fresh Ink Series, A Little Princess at Steppingstone Theatre, and I Wouldn’t Be Here and In Coya’s House at the History Theatre. Jenna is a two- time winner of McKnight Artists Fellowships and a member of the musical theater collective Prosody. This year, she also published The Beat on Ruby’s Street, a novel for middle-school readers.

Candace Barrett Birk (Director) is an actress, teaching-artist, director, and health-coach.  She was the director of the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles.  She has directed/performed with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, and locally, with the Guthrie, Live Action Set, Hippocrates Café, Theatre in the Round and Open Eye Figure Theater. She was seen on the MJTC stage in Our Class. She also teaches acting at the Guthrie and serves as Lead Artist for their Theater and the Healing Arts program.


Skyler Nowinski (Rabbi / Guest) is from Houston Texas. He graduated from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. actor training program. He appeared previously at MJTC in New Jerusalem The Interrogation of Baruch De Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656The Magic Dreidels, Hanukkah Lights in the Big Sky, and The Last Word.... Other credits include Mixed Blood Theatre, Walking Shadow, The Strange Capers, Workhaus Collective, The Showboat, and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. He traveled with Step In Time Theater to present Why We Laugh at the Nine Gates Jewish Culture Festival in the Czech Republic. 

Joanna Harmon (Bubba Brayna) was previously seen on MJTC’s stage playing Lois Lane in The History of Invulnerability. Recent credits include the title role in Charlotte's Web at Children’s Theatre Company, and performer/deviser of The Big Show with Theatre Forever. She serves as Executive Director of Live Action Set (LAS) and leads the company's pursuit to inspire creativity, speak to the soul, and explore live theater’s distinct potential. In 2011, LAS was recognized with an Ivey Award for Best Overall Performance. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program. 

James Pratt (David) was previously seen on MJTC’s stage playing Jakob in The Magic Dreidels. He is a sixth grader at Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School in St. Paul. James has been in previous productions at Steppingstone Theatre and Chanhassen Dinner Theater. One of his favorite roles has been Ollie Herdman in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. James also enjoys listening to music, especially the Beatles, and playing bass guitar.

Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) is a non-profit organization currently celebrating its 20th season. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company ignites the hearts and minds of people of all cultural backgrounds by producing theater of the highest artistic standards. Rooted in Jewish content, our work explores differences, illuminates commonalities, and fosters greater understanding among all people. For further information about MJTC and its 20th anniversary season, visit mnjewishtheatre.org, email [email protected], or call (651)647-4315.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.      

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