New Theatre opened its production of The Gospel According to Jerry at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center on November 21, 2014.
A life changing relationship sparks between a Rabbi and a Gospel singer when neither of them are able to move forward without the other's support in this Florida premiere of a new play by Richard Krevolin and Irwin Kula.
Stephen Neal directed John Manzelli and Christina Alexander.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Sometimes when the company is engaging, it doesn’t matter whether the journey itself is a little bumpy or overly-familiar. Such is the power of winning performances by Christina Alexander and John Manzelli under Stephen Neal’s direction in New Theatre’s production on The Gospel According To Jerry.
Alexander, who played multiple characters in her one-woman Hate! An American Love Story last year at Miami Theater Center, also builds different facets into Nia. Most notable, Alexander credibly depicts Nia’s initial suspicious coolness to Jerry, contrasted with the unbridled joy pouring from her face as she sings the Lord’s praises in church.
With his schedule crowded as a director, Barry University educator and as producing artistic director at City Theatre, it’s easy to forget that Manzelli has such solid acting chops, notable in several productions at Naked Stage, which he cofounded. Here, his Jerry is an affable, amiable mensch whose volubility and energy conceal considerable angst.
Director Neal paces the tidal feel of this quirky dance with a solid feel for the verbal byplay.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Director Stephen Neal and his cast, John Manzelli as a rabbi named Jerry and Christina Alexander as a gospel singer/choir director named Nia, imbue the show with warmth, humor, intelligence and an undercurrent of chemistry.
The actress is an experienced singer and musical director, so her a cappella renditions of Amazing Grace, other hymns and sacred Hebrew music are truly powerful... Manzelli and Alexander, a dynamic acting duo, keep the characters’ journey grounded in truth, vulnerability and empathy.