A play about being Jewish, Italian and from Brooklyn Fuhgedaboudit!

As if having an Italian mother and a Jewish father weren’t crazy-making enough for him, actor/playwright Steve Solomon is dyslexic and a member of Mensa.

If that all sounds like a tangled Freudian web, Solomon sorts it all out — sort of — in “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy,” his one-man show set to open at the Marines Memorial Theatre in S.F.

The comic survey of Solomon’s life has played in 49 cities and enjoyed a long New York run off-Broadway. It’s the Brooklyn native’s first stab at theater, and features all the lights, sets and stagecraft of a proper Broadway show.

But Solomon says audiences forget about the sets after five minutes.

“I do 32 characters, and [audiences] start seeing just the characters,” he said. “I could do things other people couldn’t do: voices, characters, sound effects.”

Among the 32 are family members, from his beloved bubbe on down. Although the play is ostensibly about his own family, he finds that audiences relate, whether they’re Jewish, Italian or none of the above. “People come over after the show and say, ‘My mother’s Norwegian and my father’s Spanish ‘— and they get it.”

In Solomon’s case, his mother is from Palermo; his father a Minsk-born American. The two met in Italy at the tail end of World War II. Solomon grew up in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he received a Jewish education and a bar mitzvah he’ll never forget.

“One side [of the sanctuary] — the Jewish side — was a like a regular bar mitzvah,” he recalls. “The other side was like a scene out of a Mafia movie, with all of them saying, ‘What the hell we gotta wear these hats for?’

“I had a good Jewish background,” he continued. “The funniest bit in the show is when my bubbe decides to teach my mother to keep kosher.”

Despite the intimation in his show’s title, Solomon says he adores his family. “To this day, they’re great people and a lot of laughs,” he notes. “Both my parents have a great sense of humor.”

So does he. Solomon went on to become a physics teacher and public school administrator. But his heart wasn’t in it. He harbored a wish to try stand-up comedy. Although that didn’t pan out, he did make management contacts. And when he started sketching out a one-man show, his reps decided to float the project. Literally.

“My managers decided that because I lose focus very easily, they would have me perform on cruise ships for 10 months,’ he says. “If I’m stuck on the ocean, I couldn’t be distracted. I had to send them emails about the show’s progress every night. We honed it for three and a half years.”

The show opened in 2003, and has been building momentum ever since. The upcoming San Francisco run marks his Bay Area debut.

Though “My Mother’s Italian” is his first work for the stage, it won’t be his last. Solomon is already wrapping up writing a new show, “My Sister’s an Only Child,” which he says is “more about the crazies.”

He already has another show that is stage-ready. He calls it “The Man, the Music, the Meshuganah,” a Jewish-themed piece he does for primarily Jewish audiences. It features a lot of Yiddish, a language Solomon speaks quite well, having grown up the son of a former shtetl dweller.

He’s glad he knows the Mamaloshen — not just because it’s a way of preserving Jewish culture, but also for more practical reasons. “When you see the old people cursing at you, you know what they’re saying.”

Steve Solomon’s “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy” plays 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, and 3 p.m. matinees Wednesday and Sunday, June 26-July 22 at Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., S.F. Tickets: $30-$69. Information: (415) 771-6900 or online at www.MarinesMemorialTheatre.com.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.