While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

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Jonah @ PGT: Jake Perlman

“Jonah’s Years at PGT” is The Jonah Maccabee Foundation’s autumn fundraiser for 2013. Throughout November and December 2013, we’ll be remembering, mainly through the writing of his friends, some of the great fun and growing Jonah experienced at PGT. We’re hoping you’ll be inspired to help us provide other kids with similarly loving direction along the road to wholeness during their own childhood years. Please consider making your tax-deductible gift at jonahmac.org by Sunday, January 5, 2014. Okay, or any other time. Thank you. You’re the best!


Jake Perlman remembers …

Jake Perlman

Jake Perlman graduated from Northwestern University in June with a degree in theatre. He now calls Los Angeles home where he is pursuing a career as a TV host and currently works for Entertainment Weekly.

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I started PGT very young when I was only 8 years old back in 1999. PGT wasn’t new by any means by that point but it was definitely still growing and very different than what it has become today. In my time at PGT, I performed in fifteen shows from children’s book adaptations to classic Shakespeare to a musical about cats…without any cats. PGT taught me a lot about being a good actor, but the best lesson was how to be a great person. Most of the times, those types of lessons were not only taught by our directors or teachers, but by our peers. Jonah was one of those people.

Though it seems like more, Jonah and I were in three (very different) shows together at PGT. I remember first hearing about this new kid with a lot of personality while I was in rehearsals for West Side Story and Jonah was in his first show, Lucky Stiff. I was mostly interested at first because I love names that begin with “J” and I wanted to get to know the new “J” in town. I don’t think we ever had a formal introduction to each other. It was one of those situations where we both knew who the other person was and one day, we just became friends. Usually, I would never be able to do that with anyone. But not with Jonah.

Jonah'sYears@PGT.2013.11.BlogAd.Final.largeThe first show Jonah and I were in together was the most difficult show I was ever in at PGT, The Laramie Project. Here we were, a bunch of suburban kids who usually just sing and dance their way around the stage, being asked to do something serious. I was terrified. The only reason why that show was a success was because of the incredible trust and comfort in the room at all times. I got to know Jonah more as an actor, a person and a friend. I was always a little jealous of Jonah because he had a type of confidence that I envied. He always seemed fearless to me, on and off stage, and his work in The Laramie Project proved that was true.

The next show Jonah and I were in together was a unique experience. After taking some time off from PGT to transition to a new high school, I was asked to play a small role as a horseman in Cinderella. At first, I was reluctant to say yes. I would only be in two scenes in the entire show, have one line, and would have a lot of time to fill during the final weeks of the rehearsal process that I would be joining. But then I was told I wouldn’t be alone. Jonah had already said yes (of course) and suddenly, my decision was made.

Jake and Jonah guard the pumpkind Cinderella (Jan 2006)

I don’t think I’ve ever had as much care-free fun backstage as I did with Jonah on that show. Because our roles had very low stakes, we would constantly joke backstage about the other places we could potentially take Cinderella instead of the ball and, therefore, change the complete outcome of the show. We relished in the little power we had. One of the main reasons Jonah and I were probably asked to do the roles was because we had to push on and off a very large pumpkin/stage coach contraption that would constantly get stuck in the wings and drive me crazy.

But not Jonah. He always had a positive attitude throughout that process, once even saying out of frustration after one pumpkin jam, “We have got to get this onstage so Cinderella can take that shoe off!” That’s exactly how Jonah saw the world, especially in theatre: If you can be positive about something, there is simply no reason not to be.

The last show I was in with Jonah was The Secret Garden during Jonah’s senior year of high school. Jonah played Ben the gardener, a role I later played in college. Ben is a small but important part in the show. His big moment comes towards the end when the usually grumpy old man shows his softer side and tells young Colin about his now-deceased mother and how much she loved him and how she is always looking down on him. I can’t help but feel that now, almost five years after his death, that Jonah is looking down on all of us, probably teaching us in ways we can’t understand right now…and definitely smiling.



P.S. Please give generously to our Autumn 2013 campaign at jonahmac.org. As always, we are ever grateful for your friendship and support.

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