Ted Merwin

Pacino’s Ounce Of Flesh

His Shylock comes up thin in the Park.

06/29/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

He has been played for laughs and played for chills, but the soon-to-be homeless Shylock who has taken up residence in Central Park in the Public Theater’s new production of “The Merchant of Venice,” directed by Daniel Sullivan, is played purely for pity. That it is Al Pacino, of all actors, who fails to give the Jewish moneylender a menacing edge, is surprising beyond measure.

Al Pacino’s Shylock is wounded and bitter, but never particularly malevolent. Joan Marcus

Between Oy Vey And Fuhgeddaboudit

06/22/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In American stage and film comedy, there used to be a sure-fire formula for success: take a Jewish boy and an Irish girl, make them fall in love with each other, and then watch the sparks fly as the immigrant parents get into all sorts of conflict with each other over the impending match.

Jennifer Leigh Cohen and Peter Marinaro in the interfaith comedy “Spaghetti and Matzo Balls — Fuhgeddaboudit!”

What Is It About Shylock?

In post-Madoff New York, two new productions of ‘Merchant of Venice’ (one starring Al Pacino) are on the boards this month.

06/08/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

If any theatrical character continues to haunt and fascinate us centuries after his debut upon the stage, it is Shylock, the frightening, agonized Jewish moneylender who demands to be repaid only with a pound of flesh. While Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” has always ranked among the most popular of the Bard’s plays in this country, Shylocks are popping up all over the city these days.

Al Pacino

Milt Gross' Cartoons Get Stage Treatment

06/01/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Before Matt Groening, before Art Spiegelman, before even Charles Schultz, there was Milt Gross. Gross was a pioneering early-20th-century American cartoonist, one whose comic strips, graphic novels, and animated films were all inflected with an immigrant Jewish accent and sensibility. Almost a century later, Gross’ parody of Jewish life in 1920s New York, “Nize Baby,” has been adapted to the stage by the Medicine Show Theatre, a company that is known for its experimental approach to classic works.

Wartime ‘Housewives’ Forge New Paths

05/04/2010

They may not all have turned into Rosie the Riveter, but women’s lives certainly changed once their men went off to battle. Alan Brody’s new play, “The Housewives of Mannheim,” focuses on four Jewish women living in the same apartment house in 1944 Flatbush who find different paths to growth and fulfillment in the absence of their husbands. When “Housewives” ran last year with the same cast at the New Jersey Rep in Long Branch, Robert L. Daniels of Variety called it a “keenly constructed and beautifully acted romantic drama.”

Phoenix Vaughn, Natalie Mosco and Corey Tazmania star in Alan Brody’s “The Housewives of Mannheim.”

Sondheim, Unrevealed

The great composer who held up a mirror
to us remains elusive himself in new production.

04/27/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

If Andrew Lloyd Webber supersized the Broadway musical, inflating it with an operatic grandeur that distanced it from everyday life, Stephen Sondheim made it about us — our relationships, our struggles for self-esteem, our wrestlings with our yearnings and fears.
 

The cast of “Sondheim on Sondheim,” including Vanessa Williams, left, and Barbara Cook, seated at center.

Serving Up Food With Attitude

04/03/2009

He may be one of the last of a famous breed, but Cliff Fyman, who has worked at Sardi’s for almost two decades, is that beloved icon of New York culture: the Jewish waiter.

A published poet and an accomplished visual artist, Fyman says that a blue-collar job is one that enables him “not to take my job home with me.” He tried bartending, but found that he had to talk too much with the customers and consequently had “no more words left for poetry.”

Yiddish Theater’s Last Leading Lady

At 98, Mina Bern was one of the few remaining stars from Second Avenue’s heyday.

01/22/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

She was one of the last supports of a world that was crumbling to pieces.

When Mina Bern died of heart failure last week at the age of 98, the Yiddish theater world mourned one of its leading lights, an indefatigable performer and champion of the Yiddish language whose career spanned three continents and virtually the whole of the 20th century.

Mina Bern was remembered this week for her indomitable will and star power.
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