Four years ago, Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson we were two struggling actor/writers in Hollywood. Bryan was a prop comic doing 1:00 AM sets at the Improv pulling foot long plastic alligators out of his pants. Sam was a gopher for the Jeff Foxworthy Show getting daily phone calls from his mother saying, "We spent eighty grand for you to go to Northwestern and you're doing WHAT?!"
Desperate to get a break, they came up with an idea to produce an industry one-act festival, where actors and writers could perform material to an audience of Hollywood agents, managers, casting directors and producers. For the festival, Sam and Bryan decided to write and perform an original scene. The scene - about a gentile guy who wanted to marry a Jewish girl so that he would never have to make another decision ¨C was the favorite of the night, and they felt that they were on to something special.
Over the next year, Fogel and Wolfson took the concept of that ten minute scene and turned it into a two hour play. Once they completed writing Jewtopia, they met with investor after investor trying to get the production mounted, but in the end none of them coughed up the bucks. In an act of final desperation, Fogel and Wolfson racked their credit cards and borrowed the rest from their parents to raise the $80,000 that they needed to open their show.
Jewtopia premiered on May 8th, 2003 at the Coast Playhouse in Los Angeles. The stakes were high: if it didn't work out, they promised themselves that they would finally give up the Hollywood dream and find something else to do with their lives... not to mention never hearing the end of it from their parents.
The show opened to rave reviews and immediately found an audience. Unfortunately, Fogel and Wolfson, were also the sole producers of the play, so not only were they performing and extensively rewriting the show nightly, we they handling the box office, placing the advertising, doing group sales, casting and rehearsing understudies, and doling out paychecks to the crew. Seventeen months later, Jewtopia had become the longest running original comedy in the history of Los Angeles Theater and they being courted by just about every New York theatre producer who wanted to buy their show.
They decided to partner with established Broadway producer Bill Franzblau, and together raised 625,000 dollars to put the show up in New York City. Jewtopia New York opened on October 21st, 2004 to sold-out houses and recouped it's entire investment in a record 16 weeks!
Jewtopia is still running in New York and has also had long runs in Chicago, Florida, and a National Tour is now in the works. International productions are being planned for Israel, Australia, London, France, Toronto and if things keep going as they have been, Jewtopia Rwanda should be opening around 2008!
This September, Jewtopia: The Chosen Book for the Chosen People will be published by Time-Warner. The book is one of Time-Warner's major releases for Fall, 2006 and promises to be a national bestseller. It is perhaps the craziest and most off-the-wall Jewish comedy book ever created.
Fogel and Wolfson have many new projects in the works and have just completed the screenplay adaptation of their play, which they plan to begin production on in early 2007.