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'Shayna Maidel' a Shattering Holocaust Story 
By F. Kathleen Folen, Special to The Times

If the construction timetable on the Colony's new home in Burbank goes as planned, "A Shayna Maidel" will be the last major production at the group's Silver Lake venue of 25 years. Polished to a dazzling gloss by director Scott Segall and a lapidary cast, Barbara Lebow's wrenching and uplifting play proves a fitting swan song. 

Lebow's drama about the reunion of two sisters separated by the Holocaust should be a perennial event. Finely crafted and emotionally hyper-charged, it offers the kind of rich and poignant characters that are a gift to actor and audience alike. 

The action transpires in the aftermath of the war, when the full horror of Hitler's atrocities is finally penetrating the public consciousness. Rose (Denise Dillard) and her father, Mordechai (Tim O'Hare), fled to New York 18 years earlier. Rose is a typical New York career girl--aflutter with her work and social engagements. 

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Her older sister Lusia (Alison Shanks) had contracted scarlet fever on the eve of the journey to America and remained in Poland with their mother (Ursula Martin). A survivor of the camps, Lusia is an affectless scarecrow who has lost everything--her mother, her husband (Gregory S. Foran), her best friend (Stacey Silverman), even her infant daughter. When Lusia arrives in America to live with Rose, it's a clash of painfully opposite worlds. 

Under Segall's unerring direction, the performers are incapable of striking a false note. O'Hare is particularly affecting as the patriarch whose pride has cost his family dear, but it is Shanks' soul-shattering portrayal that lodges firmly in the memory, as does Lebow's testamentary classic. 
 

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times
Reprinted with Permission
A Shayna Maidel at the Colony Theatre