Stagebeat

Don't let the simple stage dressing of this three-woman musical fool you. The stories told by the trio in Bubbe Meises -- Bubbe Stories deal with complicated matters of the heart, family ties, and lessons that can only be learned over time. Its rough-edged plot shines toward a brilliant end; the interweaving of two grandmother's stories and superstitions fit like a puzzle, creating an inspirational and emotional crescendo as the granddaughter ultimately creates her own story and a new future. Sarah Wolter's portrayal of the adult grandchild waivers among confused, sentimental, fearful, and angry -- but her Broadway belt and stunning smile carries her character through the play. On both sides of her sparse surroundings are two very different lived-in homes, where the past comes alive. Sitting among expensive Jewish trinkets is Grandma number one -- a sometimes-German-accented Gittel (Rhonda Stearns), who looks stifled in her buttoned-up costume with glasses halfway down her nose; her armor is pierced and her lonely heart revealed when she uncovers the sad truth behind surface materialism and her love for her late husband. But Grandma number two, Annie, played by Miki Edelman, really stands out. Her salt-of-the-earth chutzpah and tough-love lessons make this apron-wearing survivor delicious to watch. Her saucy and strong performance is reminiscent of Anne Bancroft; her best moment is when she remembers courting her now-hated, once-adored husband. This multilayered play is an emotional roller coaster that goes beyond the roots of the family tree and stretches its branches into the unknown future. -- By Rachel Galvin (Through May 9 at the Atlantis Playhouse, 5893 S. Congress Ave., Atlantis, 561-304-3212.)

 
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