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"The Wind on the Water" by Andrew C. Ordover taps into pre-millennial anxieties
A modern-day Jewish man awakens with the wounds of Christ and throws the world into turmoil. Production moving to Off-Broadway contract as of November 3.

Bob Romano, Amy Beth Sherman in "The Wind on the Water" (Jonathan Slaff photo)

Original run: October 8 to October 31, Th - Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 7 pm.
EXTENDED DATES November 3 to 27, Wed - Sat at 8pm; Sun at 7pm
Greenwich Street Theatre, 547 Greenwich Street (between Charlton and Vandam)
Presented by Common Ground Stage and Film Company, Inc.
Tickets: $12/tdf; students $10 (before 10/31); $20/tdf; students $15 (after 10/31)
Reservations and information (212) 604-4222.
Runs two hours with intermission. Website: http://members.aol/NDSI4BL
Andrew C. Ordover's new drama "The Wind on the Water" is a millennial warning on the perils of messianism. The play concerns a young, Jewish New Yorker--an average and unremarkable investment banker--who is happy and content with his life until he awakens one Christmas morning bleeding from the hands. These mysterious wounds have no special meaning for him, but the rest of the world sees his condition differently: as a sure sign of divine meaning. As word of his "stigmata" spreads, fundamentalists and true-believers of every stripe venerate him as proof of various millennial and apocalyptic prophecies. A southern preacher proclaims him the Antichrist. A radical Orthodox Rabbi invokes him to promote the re-building of the Temple on Mount Zion. A young, spiritually lost girl embraces him as her personal savior. The "messiah," a religious skeptic, just wishes he could return to his unremarkable life and be left alone. Unfortunately for him, the fate of the world might just be in his hands.

Or so it will seem, at least for the two hours of this drama, which challenges the audience to judge whether the character named David Lazarus is the messiah over his own persuasive arguments that he is not. Astutely constructed, penetrating and suspenseful, it paints the world's turmoil over this "savior's" dilemma while never departing from a small circle of five characters: the young man, the girl, a doctor, a Christian clergyman and a New York tabloid reporter. The play becomes partly an adventure story and partly a serious religious caveat, and it startlingly reminds us how the political and moral forces of millennialism can go spinning out of control.

Modern Americans are certainly familiar with apocalyptic visions associated with the year 2000 on the "Christian" calendar. Being only knee-deep in history, they are perhaps less familiar with the tragedy accompanying a rise in militant messianism that has occurred among the Jews on an uncanny pattern: about sixty years after each great Jewish calamity including the destruction of the second Temple and the expulsion from Spain. Ironically, when the Christian clock goes around this year, it will roughly coincide with the 60-year anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. These unusual coincidences of the calendar were not lost on playwright Andrew C. Ordover while he observed with curiosity and dread the millennial madness these days. His play, which realistically stages the identity crisis of a man with all the signs of a messiah, should send shivers down the spine of any contemporary Christian or Jew.

Ordover was raised in the liberal Jewish tradition on Long Island and now lives in Brooklyn. He stresses the play's meaning on a more personal level. In a preface he writes, "To me the story is about more than just the millennial fervor overcoming so many people these days. I think it's also about retaining your individuality in a media-driven, commercial culture--about the price of being ignorant of your history and your heritage. What happens when you allow other people to define you and manipulate the metaphors and myths that underlie your culture? Can you ever get yourself back?"

Ordover is a playwright and screenwriter with a BA in English from Emory University and an MFA in Playwriting from UCLA. His original plays and adaptations have been performed in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Miami, selections from which have been published in Smith & Kraus' Best Stage Monologues and Best Stage Scenes anthologies for 1993, 1997, and 1998. He is the Artistic Director of New York's Common Ground Stage and Film Company. Before coming to New York, he served for two years as Literary Manager at Atlanta's 7Stages Theatre. He has twice been a guest speaker at the International Symposium on Theatre Semiotics, in Athens, Greece. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Common Ground Theater, producing mostly at the Ohio and Greenwich Street theaters, has earned a reputation as a small company with quality productions of Ordover's plays (and others) since its founding in 1991. The Hudson Review (Richard Hornby) deemed Andrew Ordover's "Motherland" (1996) "One of the best new American plays I saw this season." The play was a drama of the hypocrisies and insecurities in a Slovak town during the fall of Communism. Time Out (Charlie Whitehead) wrote, "Skillfully acted and imaginatively staged, this production is Off-Off Broadway at its best." Ordover's "The Golem" (1997) was deemed "a work of considerable passion and clarity" by Time Out (Charlie Whitehead). Ordover's other notable plays include "Sister Strata," which adapted the Lysistrata myth to the American Civil War and "Gilgamesh," an adaptation of the Sumerian epic (1995).

The actors are Howie Ravikoff, Amy Beth Sherman, Davyd Dean, Stu Richel and Bob Romano. The play is directed by the author. Set design is by Markas Henry; costume design is by Kevin Brainerd; lighting design is by Brad Nelson; sound design is by Ian P. Murphy. [NYTW]

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