Cherie Messore Previews

First Look: ‘Rose’ at Jewish Repertory Theatre

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Tina Rausa in the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Buffalo production of “Rose”, February 1 -25.

Throughout America last week, 21st Century women marched through the streets, sporting pink pussycat hats and carrying signs reminding us that equity is still every person’s goal in a sometimes unjust world.

In 20th century Poland, women moved stealthily through the streets, seeking to survive on their way to freedom. They didn’t carry signs, and the scars they wore were shame and horror.

That was “Rose.”  Tina Rausa will reprise this title role beginning February 1 in Jewish Repertory Theatre’s “A Sentimental Journey” season.

Rose’s journey from her Russian village home, to the elegance of Warsaw, then through its ghetto and sewers, on her way to America, is filled with the tragic steps that most 21st century women know as history. It’s Rausa – relying on the power of playwright Martin Sherman’s words – who brings life to Rose on stage, as an 80 year old hotel owner in Miami.

“She wasn’t a heroine,” says Rausa. “She was politically astute. Circumstances dragged her along. She wouldn’t have protested with women today. However, if the march passed by her hotel, she’d let the marchers use the bathroom, and probably would bring them coffee. ”

A key comparison: women today may feel today’s world is falling apart. Rose’s world truly did fall part.

As an actor – particularly one who played the same role a decade ago –Rausa embraces all that is Rose, from her perspective on her past, her journey, and to her feisty outlook as a woman who struggled and survived. “I fell in love with her,” says Rausa.

Preparing for a 90-minute monologue is daunting in itself for an actor. Rausa also needs to put herself in a place that is emotionally devastating. Her preparation relies on YouTube interviews and rich readings about the personal experiences of people like Rose. “Knowing the backstory is important. Everyday I try to look at the Warsaw ghetto,” says Rause. “I’m a visual learner, and being able to visualize her world helps me to be in it, to see what I’m talking about so that I can feel it.”

We all have struggles, particularly when you reflect back over a decade. It’s different for Rausa playing Rose again now. “I’m a different person now, a different actress. I had no idea how I did it then. I’ve learned so much more. We have a different approach to this production. We’re living through it, not just telling a story. It was interesting to me then, and I’m fascinated by it now.”

For the audience, who may have seen the first production 10 years ago, Rausa hopes the audience will see this difference, this shift in sense and feeling. “It’s different inside for me. I feel so much more. I never felt so in love with a character I played.  She’s really something.”

“Rose” is onstage at Jewish Repertory Theatre from February 1 – 25, 2018. For more information, click here.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance Of Buffalo.