By John Jiler
Directed by Margarett Perry
With John Jiler and Lee Odom
Award-winning actor/playwright John Jiler and clarinetist Sweet Lee Odom tell the remarkable story of the youngest child of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Orphaned at six following his parents' execution for espionage, the boy was adopted by the man who wrote the song "Strange Fruit," seared into our consciousness by Billie Holiday. To the jazz accompaniment of Odom, Jiler plays a gallery of rogues, heroes and saints and takes us on a journey of American politics from then until now. Directed by Fringe First Award winner, Margarett Perry.
Part of 59E59 Theaters' East to Edinburgh 2023
John Jiler is an actor and a writer of both drama and prose. He won the Weissberger Prize from New Dramatist for his very first play, SOUR SPRINGS. He was the recipient of both the Richard Rodgers Award and the Kleban Librettists’ Award for AVENUE X, which played in New York at Playwrights Horizons and in some fifty cities around the world. His work has been seen coast to coast, from the LAByrinth Theater to the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference to the Kennedy Center to Seattle Rep and many places in between. His first non-fiction book, "Dark Wind," was published by St. Martin's Press. His most recent, "Sleeping With The Mayor," was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. As an actor he has performed at New York's Public Theatre, the Hartford Stage Company, and has been the winner of the Chicago Drama Critics Best Actor Award. His first one-man show, EXPLICIT VOWS, was seen at both Playwrights Horizons and the Flea Theatre; his second, RIPE, was hailed by the New York Times as "a classic", and he is VERY proud to be presenting his third, THE ROSENBERG/STRANGE FRUIT PROJECT, at 59E59 Theaters en route to the Edinburgh Festival.
"Sweet" Lee Odom is a composer and band leader whose musical spectrum includes gospel, free improvised music, jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, and classical. Her instrumental spectrum includes the clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone, flute, and oboe. A native of North Carolina, Lee has performed with many outstanding groups throughout NC and New York; the Karl Berger Improv Orchestra, Canaan Baptist Church Music Ministry, Matt Lavelle's 12 Houses Free Improv big band, the Makanda Project Boston, MA, UpSurge NY poetry ensemble, Keith "The Captain" Gamble and the Nu Gypsies, the Zodiacs Saxophone Quartet, and with many outstanding musicians such as Don Byron, JD Parran, Warren Smith, Craig Harris, and David Murray. She also performs as band leader at various venues and festivals throughout New York, Boston, & Connecticut. She has been featured artist for Craig Harris' Harlem Jazz Box, and also participated in Women Composers produced by Abby London, where she performed original compositions. She also appeared as a guest artist with the Jazz Foundation NY. Lee was the featured alto saxophone player for Bang on A Can "The Shape of Jazz to Come." The New York Times described her sound as "prayerful and ever searching." Lee is currently a teaching artist for the Jazz House Kids in Paterson NJ. "Sweet" Lee keeps the groove groovin'.
Margarett Perry is an award-winning director of new plays and has directed and developed new work Off Broadway and in regional theaters across the country and in the UK. This production marks her eighth production at 59E59 Theaters. She has directed 6 productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe including the Fringe First award-winning production of Brian Dykstra’s Clean Alternatives which began at 59E59. She directed the world premiere of The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project at New Jersey Repertory Company and also directed the world premiere of John Jiler's Half Moon Bay for Nylon Fusion at the New Ohio Theatre. Other recent world premieres include: Born in East Berlin by Rogelio Martinez and Seared by Theresa Rebeck (both at San Francisco Playhouse), Education by Brian Dykstra (59E59 Theaters), and Banned from Baseball by Patricia O’Hara (Human Race). Margarett was the resident director at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca where she directed over 25 productions including Private Lives, Cock, Old Times, Clean Alternatives, and most recently The Thanksgiving Play. Other recent favorites include: Shrek the Musical (Connecticut Rep), Used to Was/Maybe Did (Center Theatre Group), The Revolutionists (Human Race) and A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Hudson Stage). During the shutdown, she ventured into the short film and music video world for passion projects such as #Hashtag That-Say Their Name (from the musical Crazy Make Crazy), This Doesn’t Work written & performed by Darian Dauchan and Brian Dykstra and Time Passes for the Resident Acting Company. She also began exploring watercolor and her work is licensed by the New York Historical Society and was a finalist in 2020 Brush & Lyre Prize. Margarett was an artistic fellow with the Lark for years and considered it her theatrical home base.
Read more at: www.twilighttheatrecompany.org
"Jiler bursts with the talent, wit and energy that separates living theatre from all entertainment that comes in a can." - The New York Times
"Jiler’s fertile imagination and the compelling, probing script brought me shivers." - American Theatre Magazine
"The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project is a gem of a production. It will appeal to people who are interested in history, social issues, and those who want to enjoy an excellent theatrical performance with outstanding music." - Broadway World
"Odom’s music is the 'second actor' in this one-man tour-de-force, providing emotional balance to intellectual points of view. The use of clarinet and drums calls forth the “outsider” cultures of Jewish-Americans and African-Americans in mid-20th century America." - Out in New Jersey
"Powerful and Politically Relevant" - NJ Arts