Theater

On Borrowed Time

01/20/2015
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Money is such a taboo subject that discussing our sex lives is more comfortable for many of us than revealing our income. For playwright Ben Rimalower, who performs his own one-man show, “Bad With Money,” spending money is a way to avoid dealing with debilitating emotional problems. Jenna Scherer of Time Out New York raves that Rimalower “exorcises his financial demons” in a “purgative hour-long monologue in which he entertainingly (and excruciatingly) itemizes his monetary sins.” The show continues through the end of February in the West Village.

Ben Rimalower stars in one-man show about his abusive relationship with money.  Allison Michael Orenstein

Remembering Mina, A ‘Mother Hen’ To Actors

01/06/2015
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If anyone stood for the vitality of the theater as an art form, it was Mina Bern, the indomitable actress whose career long outlasted the glory days of the Second Avenue Yiddish stage. To mark the fifth anniversary of her death, the Congress for Jewish Culture, in conjunction with the American Jewish Historial Society, is assembling a starry roster of Bern’s former students to pay tribute to the beloved performer. The free program will take place this Sunday afternoon at the Center for Jewish History in Chelsea.

Mina Bern, subject of a celebration at the Center for Jewish History.  Joan Roth

The Man Who Integrated The Bandstand

12/31/2014
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While they often worked together to write and record songs, black and white jazz musicians rarely appeared together on stage in the racially divided world of New York in the 1930s and ’40s. So it was with considerable courage that Barney Josephson, the son of Jewish immigrants from Latvia, opened Café Society on Sheridan Square, a color-blind jazz joint that helped to launch the careers of Billie Holiday, Sara Vaughn, Lena Horne, Count Basie and many other legendary African-American musicians.

Charenee Wade in “Café Society Swing,” the story of club owner Barney Josephson. Carol Rosegg

Caught Between Worlds

S. Ansky’s ‘A Dybbuk for Two People’ resonates with 24/6 company.

12/23/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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With all the stress of the holiday season, many of us find ourselves acting a little out of character and wondering afterwards what got into us. How appropriate, then, that the 24/6 theater company, a troupe whose members maintain Sabbath and holiday observance while staging classic and modern plays with a Jewish twist, is presenting Bruce Myers’ celebrated adaptation of S. Ansky’s “The Dybbuk,” the iconic Yiddish play about spirit possession. The play, in which two actors play all the parts, will be presented Sunday afternoon at the JCC Manhattan. This year marks the centennial of Ansky’s writing of the play.

Leor Hackel and Michal Birnbaum star in a new adaptation of an iconic Yiddish play.

Chanukah And Heresy

12/16/2014
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While Chanukah marks the military victory of Mattathias and his five sons over the Seleucid (Syrian Greek) monarchy, it also represents the ascendancy of the Maccabees over their fellow Jews who had become infatuated with Hellenistic culture.

As A Driven Leaf Book Cover

‘Soul Doctor’ Redux

Retooled production of Carlebach musical plays down the counterculture rabbi’s biography in favor of his songs.

12/09/2014
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If anyone saw himself as a fixer, it was Shlomo Carlebach. With the extraordinary power of his original melodies, the wonder-working rabbi traveled around the world beginning in the 1960s, helping Jews who were suffering from drug abuse, loneliness and alienation from Jewish life. Ironically, “Soul Doctor,” the musical about Carlebach’s life and career, has itself been in need of repair. After a highly publicized flop at the Circle in the Square on Broadway last year, the musical returns, Off-Broadway this time, in its 11th incarnation. And now, the creative team believes, the musical has finally found its voice. The retooled show, which is currently in previews, opens this Sunday at the Actors’ Temple Theatre in Midtown.

Josh Nelson as Shlomo Carlebach with his so-called Holy Beggars. Carol Rosegg

A New York Chanukah

12/02/2014
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Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, seems tailor-made for a city known for its luminous skyscrapers that glitter and sparkle in the night. For Sean Hartley, the creator of the Chanukah-themed children’s show, “Latkes and Applesauce,” the winter holiday can inspire a new generation of Jewish New Yorkers to connect to their heritage. His show runs for one performance only on Dec. 14 at the Merkin Concert Hall on the Upper West Side.

Scene from Sean Hartley’s children’s show, “Latkes and Applesauce.”  Joan Jastrebski

A Flood Of Anxiety

11/26/2014
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Growing up may be especially difficult these days, but it was probably never a piece of cake. For Mir’l, an adolescent orphan girl in Peretz Hirshbein’s harrowing early-20th-century Yiddish play, “On the Other Side of the River,” (Oyf Yener Zayt Taykh), coming of age means coping with death, natural disaster and sexual violence. Little wonder that she dreams of love and a better life, even in the midst of utter chaos and confusion. The play begins previews this weekend in Soho.

David Greenspan and Jane Cortney in Peretz Hirshbein’s “On the Other Side of the River.” Hunter Canning

The Heart Of The Shoah

Staging Hanna Krall’s ‘Chasing the King of Hearts.’

11/19/2014
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Unsung, for the most part, in this country, Hanna Krall is a literary titan in Europe, where her stories are renowned for their fairy tale-like evocation both of the Shoah and of prewar Jewish life in her native Poland. Now comes “The King of Hearts is Off Again,” a Polish stage adaptation of her 2007 bestselling novel, “Chasing the King of Hearts,” which opens next week in the East Village. When it ran in 2012 in Los Angeles, critic Steven Leigh Morris of the L.A. Weekly called it “thrilling physical theater.”

Magda Czarny, and Danny Kearns in “The King of Hearts is Off Again.” Paweł Wilewski

What Lurks Beneath

A powerful but flawed ‘Disgraced’ touches on Muslim rage, Jewish success and being a minority in America

11/11/2014
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Rude awakenings are the raw material of drama. Ever since the unfortunate King Oedipus, characters have been jolted to realize that their self-image is colossally, and, ultimately, catastrophically different from the ways in which others have perceived them.

Hari Dhillon, second from left, as the Muslim-American Amir, with Gretchen Mol, Karen Pittman and Josh Radnor. Joan Marcus
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