Boy Falls From The Sky
lands at the Segal Centre
Jake Epstein’s hit one-man show has biblical roots
By Byron Toben
November 30, 2023
The Book of Genesis relates the story of Jacob, grandson of Abraham, who, exhausted after hard labour, fell asleep on the desert sand with a rock as a pillow and had a dream wherein angels and demons ascended and descended from heaven on a ladder held by God. That is estimated as having been written around 1450 B.C.E.
Fast forward to 2023 C.E., and Jacob’s descendent, at least by nickname, Jake Epstein, a National Theatre School of Canada grad, has written and stars in a one-man show assisted by three musicians, about his dream of climbing to Broadway success, albeit with some trials and tribulations along the way. That show, Boy Falls From The Sky, runs at the Segal Centre until December 10.
In my opinion, the message is best expressed by the song composed by Irving Berlin for the 1946 film version of his stage musical, Annie Get Your Gun, namely, There’s No Business Like Show Business. That song has been covered by many famous performers but best personified by Ethel Merman, whose video appears at the end of this article.
But first, the ladder itself has been referred to in spirituals developed by African American slaves before and during the U.S. Civil War and later as performed by luminaries like Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Brice Springsteen as We All Are Climbing On Jacob’s Ladder.
Boy Falls From The Sky was timely selected by Segal Centre Artistic and Executive Director Lisa Rubin as a worthy tie-in to its recent wonderful staging of Beauty: The Carole King Musical, as Jake did appear in its New York production. His credits include a dozen other shows and film/TV shows, such as Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Jake Epstein… has written and stars in a one-man show assisted by three musicians, about his dream of climbing to Broadway success, albeit with some trials and tribulations along the way.
See this show to track his ups and downs, always landing on his feet, with an athleticism worthy of a champion gymnast.
What does get splattered are the name drops of famous folk along the way, reminiscent to me of the 1969 Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. These name drops include off-hand, Drake, Bob Dylan, Hilary Clinton, Patti Lupine and Paul McCartney.
One running joke about his failures is that he was dismissed for many auditions as being “too tall” for the part (he’s 6’2″), leading to his bending his knees during the auditions. (This reminded me of 6’9″ Eddie “Too Tall” Jones, who starred for the Dallas Cowboys football team for 15 years and who was definitely not too tall for his role as defensive end.) Also, Jake had many references to his then-girlfriend, now wife “in Canada,” a sure clap-getter with Canadian audiences.
Jake also plays the guitar to accompany himself, backed up by Daniel Abraham on keyboard, Shrikanth Narayanan on bass and Christina Beaudry Cardenas on drums.
All in all, another “don’t miss” for the Segal.
Images: Matthew MacQuarrie-Cottle
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated websites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner, and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.