Your weekly guide to what's hot in New York area arts.
04/23/2014
Composer Lainie Fefferman penned the Bible-inspired oratorio, “Here I Am.”  Courtesy of Lainie Fefferman
Composer Lainie Fefferman penned the Bible-inspired oratorio, “Here I Am.” Courtesy of Lainie Fefferman

THE BUZZ

HERE I AM

Get ready to rock — in the biblical sense, that is. Composer and performer Lainie Fefferman premieres her Bible-inspired oratorio, “Here I Am,” next week in Brooklyn. The work is an exploration of Jewish identity through music set to the English-translated text of the Torah. An ensemble of musicians and vocalists (Newspeak and Va Vocals) presents some of the holy book’s most-and least-famous passages — from the intense narration of the Akedah to the obscure laws of shatnez.

—Thurs., May 1, 8 p.m., $20. Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, (917) 267-0368, roulette.org/events/lainie-fefferman-here-i-am.

SOFT IN THE HEAD

Up-and-coming Jewish filmmaker Nathan Silver’s newest work, “Soft in the Head,” plays this week at Cinema Village. The poignant film, an organically Jewish, New York story, includes an Orthodox family and a homeless shelter with Jewish inhabitants; it also features a neurotic cast of characters, explores the absurdity of city life and includes the perpetual onscreen presence of food.

—Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St., (212) 924-3363, cinemavillage.com

SAVIORS ON THE SCREEN

To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, the JCC in Manhattan holds this short film festival, with screenings and discussions with filmmakers. Featured this year will be “Kisses to the Children,” a documentary about Greek-Jewish hidden children, “When Day Breaks,” a drama about a man rediscovering his past, and “The One That Got Away,” a documentary about lost love. Also screening for Yom HaShoah is the New York premiere of “Shoes,” as part of the JCC’s “Generation R” program for young Russian-speaking Jews.

—Sun. and Mon. April 27 and 28, $11 per film/$9 per film for members/$18 for full series, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., (646) 505-5708, see full schedule at jccmanhattan.org.

FILM

FADING GIGOLO

John Turturro’s new film about a male escort features — what else — chasids in Williamsburg. Woody Allen makes a rare performance in a movie he has neither written nor directed.

—Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (1886 Broadway, [212] 757-2280), Angelika Film Center New York (18 W. Houston St., [800] 326-3264) and City Cinemas 1, 2 and 3 (1001 Third Ave., [800] 326-3264 x 2705).

THE JEWISH CARDINAL

Jean-Marie Lustiger, known as “The Jewish Cardinal,” is the subject of a 2012 film by French director Ilan Duran Cohen. The drama follows Lustiger, the Bishop of Orleans, as he balances his Jewish ethnicity, a heritage he treasures, and his Catholic faith, which he has practiced since his boyhood.

—Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St., (212) 924-3363, cinemavillage.com.

MARVIN, SETH AND STANLEY

Brooklyn’s ReRun Theater screens this dark family comedy about a Jewish father and sons trying (and failing) to be rugged outdoorsmen during a weekend in Minnesota. The acrid family dynamic holds as strong an onscreen presence as the beautiful rural setting.

—ReRun Theater, 147 Front St., Mezzanine, Rear, Brooklyn, (718) 766-9110, reruntheater.com. From Fri., April 25 to Thurs., May 1. For ages 21+, $5.

JERUSALEM

The new documentary “Jerusalem” seeks to reveal life in Israel by focusing on three local teenage girls from different religions, each giving a tour of their home city from a unique perspective. The film plays in IMAX in limited release.

—Cradle of Aviation Museum-National Geographic Theater, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City, (516) 572-4111, jerusalemthemovie.com.

THE MONUMENTS MEN

George Clooney’s newest directorial work features an impressive all-star cast (from Bill Murray to Cate Blanchett), telling the story of a squad of WWII Allies attempting to reclaim cultural artifacts stolen by the Nazis (many of them from Jewish art collectors).

—Check local listings.

NOAH

Brooklyn-raised director Darren Aronofsky and his production team retell the biblical story of Noah, but in disaster-movie style. The hero of the film is portrayed by none other than Russell Crowe, who will undoubtedly learn that he cannot best the elements in hand-to-hand combat. Some Christian groups have spoken out against the film, but critics are abuzz.

—Check local listings.

THEATRE

CASA VALENTINA

Harvey Fierstein’s first straight play in almost 30 years is set in the familiar locale of the Jewish Catskill resorts of the 1960s — but this is no “Dirty Dancing.” The play features a bungalow for cross-dressing, heterosexual men, escaping the drag of white-collar life for, well, drag.

—The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th  St., (212) 239-6200, Manhattantheatereclub.com.

THREEPENNY OPERA

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s dramatic masterpiece comes to life in the Atlantic Theater Company’s bold new production of Marc Blitzstein’s translation of the musical. Directed by Martha Clarke.

—Linda Gross Theater, 336 W. 20th St., (212) 691-5919, atlantictheater.org. Through May 4.

GREED: A MUSICAL FOR OUR TIMES

This new musical comedy features several prominent corrupt bigwigs who fell from grace — including one Bernard Lawrence Madoff.

—Wednesdays 7 p.m., and Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., $40-$65, New World Stages, Stage 2, 340 W. 50th St., (212) 239-6200, www.telecharge.com. Open run.

BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” traces the iconic singer/songwriter’s life and career, from her hits like “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” to her relationship with Gerry Goffin, her songwriting partner and husband. Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein star.

—The Stephen Sondheim, 124 W. 43rd St., (212) 719-1300, beautifulonbroadway.com. Open run.

MUSIC

JEWS, JAZZ AND PSTROMI

Yale Strom and his group Hot Pstromi perform their klezmer/jazz fusion next week at the Brooklyn Public Library.

—Thurs., May 1, 7 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library, Dweck Center, 10 Grand Army Plaza, bklynpubliclibrary.org.

BEYOND ME: A SONG CYCLE IN THE KEY OF SURVIVAL

Rachel Goldman Miller survived the Holocaust as a hidden child. Now, performance artist Suzanne Tanner tells Miller’s story — both during and after the war — in a one-woman biographical show, using music, video footage and visual art to tell its story. Miller herself will speak following the 90-minute performance.

—Sun., April 27, 3 p.m., $36, The Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Safra Hall, 36 Battery Place, (203) 557-4561, BeyondMeMusical.Eventbrite.com.

MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE

“Against the Odds: American Jews & the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, 1933-1941” presents both individual stories and a portrait of the collective experience of American Jews trying to help relatives, friends or even just strangers thousands of miles away, linked by the shared bond of religion. In particular, the exhibit explores how American immigration laws limited the power of those trying to assist, and how Jews overcame tremendous obstacles to help those in need.

—Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl. (646) 437-4202. $7-$12.

LIGHT AND SHADOWS: THE STORY OF IRANIAN JEWS

Yeshiva University’s new show, created and organized by Beit Hatfustot–The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, documents the complex history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities. It includes more than 100 artifacts, illuminated manuscripts, Judaica, paintings and photographs.

—Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St. (212) 294-8330. yumuseum.org. $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students. Through April 27, 2014.

DISCOVERY AND RECOVERY: PRESERVING IRAQI HERITAGE

The Museum of Jewish Heritage celebrates the history of the Iraqi Jewish community with a new exhibit, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Heritage.” The show features rare religious and cultural artifacts, and tells the dramatic story of the rescue of some of these items from a flooded basement in the intelligence headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

—The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, (646) 437-4202, mjhnyc.org.  Through May 18.

SCOTS JEWS: IDENTITY, BELONGING AND THE FUTURE

Photographer Judah Passow has recently undertaken a project capturing the life of Jews around Scotland, and the results are on view at the 92nd Street Y.

—92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., (212) 415-5500, 92y.org. Through April 27.

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY

No, not the great John Ford film about Welsh coal miners. ArtPalestine International (based here) has funded a new exhibit through Kickstarter. The show displays the work (across several mediums) of a number of artists who highlight the Palestinian experience, dealing with issues from social marginalization to limited natural resources.

—Whitebox Art Center, 329 Broome St., (212) 714-2347, whiteboxny.org. Through Apr. 27.

TOUGH JEWS, REALLY TOUGH

There have been a lot of tough-guy Jews down through the years: Barney (The Pride of Maxwell Street) Ross, Tuvia (The Fighting Partisan) Bielski and Ariel (The Bulldozer) Sharon. But perhaps none compare to Irving (Knadles) Nitzberg and Philip (Little Farfel) Cohen, two members of the Jewish mob known as Murder, Inc. John J. College is exhibiting 23 bios and illustrations of the Jewish mobsters taken from the book “The Brownsville Boys: Jewish Gangsters of Murder, Inc.” (Two Ponds Press). You should make it there, lest the ghost of Albert (Tick Tock) Tannenbaum runs you down.

—The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College, 59th Street and 11th Avenue. (212) 237-1439. Through May 30.

RARE FAMILY HAGGADAH

It may be hard to conceive, but there were Haggadot long before wine-splattered Maxwell House editions. The Leo Baeck Institute at the Center for Jewish History proves it in time for Passover, by displaying a Haggadah that dates back to 1687. The book was printed in Prague, but it has belonged to Jewish owners all over the world, from Germany to Brazil.

—Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org. On display through April 27.

CAPA IN COLOR

The International Center of Photography highlights Robert Capa’s works, including three trips to Israel.

—The International Center of Photography, 1133 Sixth Ave., (212) 857-0000, icp.org. Through May 4.

MOTHER

Israeli photographer Elinor Carucci explores the nature of maternity in this exhibit.

—The Edwynn Houk Gallery, 745 Fifth Ave., #407, (212) 750-7070, houkgallery.com. Through May 3.

DEGENERATE ART: THE ATTACK ON MODERN ART IN NAZI GERMANY, 1937

This exhibit at the Neue Gallery reflects on the artistic repercussions of Europe’s darkest turning point.

—The Neue Gallery New York Museum for German and Austrian Arts, 1048 Fifth Ave., (212) 628-6200, neuegalerie.com. Through June 30.

MASTERS OF FIRE: COPPER AGE ART FROM ISRAEL

This exhibit at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World has artifacts from ancient Israel.

—The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World is at 15 E. 84th St., (212) 992-7800, isaw.nyu.edu. Through June 8.

BY DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT

“By Dawn’s Early Light: The Contribution of Jews to American Culture from Washington’s Inauguration to the Civil War” at The Center for Jewish History tells its story with a large variety of historical artifacts.

—The Center for Jewish History is at 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org. Through June 16.

MASTERPIECES AND CURIOSITIES: DIANE ARBUS’ JEWISH GIANT

Jewish-American photographer Diane Arbus was known for capturing the visually eerie, or even repulsive. One of her last works, now on display at The Jewish Museum, was documenting a Coney Island sideshow performer known as “The World’s Tallest Man.” Eddie Carmel, said to stand around 8 feet tall, was the son of Israeli immigrants to the United States.

—The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., (212) 423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org. Through Aug. 3.

TALK

HOLOCAUST LOOTED ART: SHOULD WE STILL BE FIGHTING?

Owen Pell is a lawyer who specializes in Nazi-looted property. He speaks in conversation with Rabbi Scott Bolton about Holocaust art.

—Thurs., May 1, 7 p.m., free. Congregation Or Zarua, 127 E. 82nd St., (212) 452- 2310, orzarua.org.

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