NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Friends told New Canaan native Kaitlin Walsh and her friend Becky Kramer to stay away from religion in their fledgling careers in television development and acting.
So with the Wednesday debut of their new web series, “Jewvangelist,” it’s apparent that Walsh and Kramer (a) did not listen to their friends and (b) are going to be television mavericks.
Walsh is executive producer of “Jewvangelist”, which debuts on YouTube on Wednesday. It is the first web series for Walsh, who has been working in television for six years, including the past three with national networks.
“Becky Kramer (who plays the lead role of Leah Levy) wanted to take control of her acting career,’’ Walsh said in a phone interview from California. “She pitched this idea to me and I really liked it. People told her to stay away from religion. I didn’t feel that way. I think there’s a good way to touch on the subject without being abrasive. We tried really hard not to offend anyone. We’ll see how it turns out.”
“Jewvangelist” is a quirky comedy series about a struggling rabbi who attempts to convert people to Judaism in order to save her family synagogue. Rabbi Leah Levy attempts to learn methods other religions use to build their congregations. Her rival rabbi – and twin brother – learns of his sister’s plan and schemes to ruin her clever (and frequently failed) tactics. “Think "Parks and Recreation" meets "Arrested Development" … in a synagogue,’’ Walsh said.
Kramer has been making short films for several years in California, and wanted to create a funny, lovable and quirky character for herself.
The cast also includes Alex Trugman, who made it to the semifinals of “American Idol” in Season 8, and Ann Benson, one the stars of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.” Jayme Bell, Will van der Vegt, Terrence Colby Clemons and Michael Saltzman also star in the show, directed by Aaron Milus and written by Christian Ayers.
Pulling it all together is Walsh, a young woman from New Canaan who has had aspirations of working in television since she was a teenager.
“I grew up in the theater world thinking I was an actress,’’ she said. “My mother (Rachel) lovingly told me that maybe I’d be better off behind the scenes. I grew up watching TV, not movies, so I think the decision to work in TV came naturally to me. I always liked the idea of inviting characters into my life for years, not two hours, and I’ve never really wavered from it. I’m lucky that I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was 15.”
Walsh has produced six 10-minute episodes, completing season one. A trailer is already on YouTube, where the show will be aired. “Only in the past few years have web series started becoming more mainstream,” Walsh said. “We’re hoping to join the web series community and reach a lot of people.”
Walsh knows viewership will be small to start, but hopes to build an audience as the series progresses.
“We’re not expecting a ton of viewers at the beginning,’’ she said. "But hopefully when we're done with the series, if they haven't been watching week-to-week, people will watch all six episodes at once and tell their friends about us. We're hoping to have a significant audience by April or May. That's when we're aiming to have found a loyal audience that will be there to stay."