Friday, September 15, 2023

Off-Broadway Review: Out of the Apple Orchard


Out of the Apple Orchard

By Ellen W. Kaplan, based on the book by Yvonne David
Directed by Nicole Raphael
Actors Temple

By Lauren Yarger
A sweet tale of forgiveness offers a breath of fresh air for theater goers in the New York premiere of Ellen W. Kaplan's Out of the Apple Orchard which recently had an all-too-short run at the Actors Temple in New York.

Based on the first in a series of children's books written by Yvonne David, and themselves inspired by Joseph Stein's Fiddler on the Roof, Sholom Aleichem’s “Tevye the Dairyman," and Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol," the stories follow the Jewish Bieman family which immigrates to the lower east side of Manhattan in 1910, then moves to the Catskills.

When Papa (Erik Endsley) is too sick to continue working on the fine suits he tailors, Mama (Lori Leifer), Bubbe (Alyssa Simon), Adam (Caleb Hafen) and Sarah (Emma Kantor) all offer to pitch in.  They offer the doctor (Gershon Tarabulus) a pair of trousers in payment, but how will they ever have money to buy ingredients for a holiday cake to bring in a sweet new year?

Adam decides that stealing apples from the orchard of Farmer Friedland (Ken Dillion) is the solution, but he soon finds that his actions have unexpected consequences. His guilt leads him to seek counsel from the family's rabbi (also played by Tarabulus), who tells him he must confess to Friedland and see what he can do to make up for his crime. But will the farmer forgive him?

Directed by Nicole Raphael of The Mesaper Theatre, the tale unfolds with music and puppetry (Victoria Chaieb, violinist, who also composes original music and arrangements; Rebecca Porticello, red bird -- puppets by Vandy Wood) set against paintings by Robert Sauber and lighting by Maarten Cornelis. Choreography is by Hafen and Kantor.

This charming tale, told in about 80 minutes without intermission, bakes a perfect pie by blending the ingredients of wholesome family values, vivid storytelling and lighthearted entertainment whose aroma will appeal to audiences of all ages. The run at the Actors Temple was just seven performances. Here's hoping it returns or has runs in other cities. And maybe the other books in the series will find their way t the stage as well. For info in the books click here.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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