Damascus Square – a new musical inspired by the heroic mission in Syria of Israeli spy Eli Cohen — will have its New Jersey premiere with a full staging at Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal. Amb. Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York, will address the audience on the opening night of its three-performance run, Monday, Aug. 17.
Moshe Mana and Mana Contemporary have joined with APAC to present the play, which was conceived and cowritten by Shai Baitel, a leading expert in Middle Eastern politics.
Damascus Square tells the story of Cohen’s daring Mossad espionage mission in the 1960s in Syria — where he built a brotherly bond with Syrian President Amin al-Hafez — and the price Cohen paid for his unshakeable loyalty to country, family, and friends.
Damascus Square stars Richard Blake, the current lead in Broadway’s Jersey Boys, as Eli Cohen, and Broadway veteran Bradley Dean as Amin Hafez, along with a cast of professional New York actors and 11-year-old Claudia Tawil of Deal — who has been an active member of Axelrod’s Rising Stars program — playing Cohen’s daughter.
The score was composed by Oran Eldor with lyrics by Sarah Hirsch, also the book’s cowriter. The director is Ohad Ashkenazi, a leading Israeli television and theater director.
Also in the cast are Jacqueline Antaramian (Soul Doctor, Dr. Zhivago, Master Class), Janine Divita (Anything Goes, Grease), Etai Benson (Wicked), Samia Mounts, and Jonathan Rayson.
Based in a converted warehouse in Jersey City, Mana Contemporary, the driving force behind Damascus Square, is a leading destination for the arts, dance, and music. Discussions are under way for a possible Broadway run of the play.
Damascus Square will play Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Aug. 17, 18, and 19, at 8 p.m. at APAC in Deal. Tickets cost $32, $28 for seniors and students. To reserve seats, call 732-531-9100, ext. 142, or visit axelrodartscenter.org. The box office at the new Jersey Shore JCC is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.