Plays

A Curtain Call For Paddy Chayefsky

A new production of ‘Middle of the Night’ and a new biography fueling a reassessment of the screenwriter-playwright’s emotionally charged work.

03/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Mention the name of Jewish screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, and most people think of “Marty,” the path-breaking 1950s teleplay turned film about a lonely Italian-American butcher in the Bronx. Or they think of the electrifying scene in the 1976 Sidney Lumet film, “Network,” in which a TV anchorman demands that all New Yorkers throw open their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more!”

Nicole Lowrance and Jonathan Hadary, left, star in a revival of “Middle of the Night” by Paddy Chayefsky, right.  Carol Rosegg

THEATER Englander On Stage:

‘The Twenty Seventh Man’ at the Public.

09/04/2012

It may be less well known than the massacres perpetrated by the Nazis, but the secret mass murder by Stalin of more than a dozen prominent Yiddish writers in 1952 surely stands as one of the most horrific crimes against humanity ever committed. This fall, Nathan Englander’s dramatized version of his chilling short story, “The Twenty Seventh Man,” which addresses the killings, comes to the Public Theater. While the cast has not yet been announced, rumors have it that at least one household name will appear in the production.

Nathan Englander: The “power of art to defeat tyranny.” Juliana Sohn

Schnitzler’s ‘Masterpiece’

01/31/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Fin de siècle Vienna was, in the words of Jewish satirist Karl Kraus, a “research laboratory for world destruction.” Viennese playwright Arthur Schnitzler agreed; his play, “Professor Bernhardi,” was one of the first plays in German to confront the rising tide of anti-Semitism in early 20th-century Central Europe. Translated by C.J. Weinberger, “Professor Bernhardi” opened in Midtown this week at the TBG Theatre as part of a series of works that were “banned and burned” at some point in their history.

Sam L. Tsoutsouvas as Dr. Bernhardi in Alfred Schnitzler’s “Professor Bernhardi.” Jill Usdan

‘Marx Brothers Meet Ionesco’

01/24/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

Given the vicissitudes of Jewish history, it is no wonder that Jews developed a bleakly comic vision, a sense of life as teetering awkwardly on the edge of an abyss. Such a philosophy is amply on display in Lazarre Seymour Simckes’ absurdist new play, “Open Rehearsal,” in which a troupe of actors who are members of the same family rehearse a bizarre drama that enfolds with the fractured logic of a variety show. As the play-within-a-play keeps turning itself inside out, the characters finally find security only by clinging to one another.

The cast of Lazar Seymour Simckes’ absurdist play “Open Rehearsal.” Jonathan Slaff

Classic Israeli Children’s Tale At Y

Musical based on ‘Hanna and the Moonlit Dress,’ a PJ Library selection, debuts this weekend.

01/03/2012
Special To The Jewish Week

With their creativity and spirit, children have the power to remake the world. In the new musical play, “Hanna and the Moonlit Dress,” based on a classic Israeli children’s tale by Itzhak Schweiger-Dmi’el, a girl learns that her good heart can make everything holy and new. Produced and directed by Ronit Muszkatblit, the production opens this weekend at the 14th Street Y.

“Hanna and the Moonlit Dress,” a musical at the 14th Street Y, is based on an uplifting children’s story.

Freud, Schmeud

The iconic psychoanalyst is a hot cultural property, but his theories and views on Judaism are coming under attack.

12/27/2011
Staff Writer

If you were to take a cultural tour of New York today, you’d think Sigmund Freud were as relevant to society now as Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. Everywhere you’d turn, from Broadway to the movies, you’d find the father of psychoanalysis holding a prominent place.

The new film “A Dangerous Method” focuses on Sigmund Freud, above.

Hypnotic Effect

12/20/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

He was a Jewish astrologer and hypnotist who purportedly taught Hitler how to control the masses. Erik Jan Hanussen, whose performances of occult magic were the talk of Weimar Berlin, was credited with foretelling the Reichstag fire and the rise of the Nazis. In Ildiko Nemeth’s new play, “Hypnotik: The Seer Will Doctor You Now,” Hanussen (Peter B. Schmitz) returns to life in all his mesmerizing glory. The play opens Dec. 28 at the Theater for the New City in the East Village.

Sarah Lemp as the Baroness in “Hypnotik".

Burns, Baby, Burns

A double dose of the iconic straight man, in the same weekend.

10/25/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

With the decline of the comedy duo, the straight man no longer plays a prominent role in our culture. But in Rupert Holmes’ “Say Goodnight, Gracie,” the revival of the one-man show that opens Sunday afternoon starring Joel Rooks as funnyman George Burns, the king of straight men gets his due.

A cigar and a one-liner: Joel Rooks as George Burns in “Say Goodnight, Gracie.” Scott Myers

History And Jewish Identity, Times Two

Two one-woman shows measure the continuing impact of Anne Frank’s story and of apartheid.

09/13/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

History’s shadows never stop lengthening. Two one-woman shows playing next week in New York explore how historical processes shape modern Jewish identity. Carol Lempert’s “After Anne Frank,” investigates the effect of the Dutch teenager’s story on the performer’s own life, while Gabrielle Maisels’ “Bongani” examines a relationship between a white Jewish girl and the black son of her family housekeeper in post-apartheid South Africa.

Gabrielle Maisels as one of 11 characters in her play “Bongani,” about the lingering effects of apartheid.

An Age-Old Love Story

10/05/2010

 Our society worships youth. Rarely do older people appear in popular culture, and when they do, they are often treated as objects of ridicule.

 Enter Peter L. Levy’s play, “Friends,” about two elderly Jewish New Yorkers, each of whom claims the right to a park bench in Central Park. Over time their turf battle morphs into friendship, and then romance. When Levy’s play first ran in San Francisco in 2003, Dan Pine of the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California noted the play’s “uniquely wistful Jewish air.”

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