Babylon Revisited

Playwright Richard Greenberg on the L.I. suburbs then, and the city now.

11/30/2016 - 08:41
Special To The Jewish Week

‘I don’t miss being young,” playwright and essayist Richard Greenberg insisted offhandedly the other day, “although I always thought that I would.” Indeed, he reflected, “even incredibly intelligent and wise young people haven’t had the experience of time passing”— time that he views as essential for an appreciation not just of human nature but also of the rootedness of people in a particular place.

Greenberg’s “The Babylon Line,” set in 1967, opens next week Courtesy of South Coast Rep

Get Thee Out, Again

Tevye the theologian exits the stage.

11/02/2016 - 09:49
Special To The Jewish Week

With the announced closing at the end of 2016 of the current Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye the dairyman has been given the boot once again. Not that an eviction notice, per se, is anything new for a character whose entire religious community is kicked out from its humble village by order of the czar at the conclusion of every performance. Not to forget, either, that in the theater of world history, the Jewish people as a whole have endured many more such scenes of persecution and expulsion, again and again from ancient times until our own.

The God-arguer: Danny Burstein as Tevye in the current production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which closes Dec. 31. Joan Marcus

Marlowe And Kanye, Measure For Measure

‘The Jew of Malta’ and ‘Yeezus’ collide in Jesse Freedman’s politically charged mashup.

11/01/2016 - 15:00
Special To The Jewish Week

One of the most distressing, perhaps even traumatic, aspects of the current presidential campaign has been the pitting of one racial, ethnic or religious minority against another for political gain. In his new play, “Jew vs. Malta,” Jewish artist Jesse Freedman has paired works that could not seem, on the surface at least, to be more different: the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta” and controversial rapper Kanye West’s 2013 album’s “Yeezus.” But by slicing and dicing the words and music, respectively, from these sources, Freedman satirizes the ways in which politicians cold-heartedly exploit and manipulate differences among groups in American society. The play runs through this weekend at La MaMa in the East Village.

A scene from “Jew vs. Malta.” Photos by Theo Cote

Plenty Jewish

Monica Piper’s one-woman show is an extended comic
(but serious) exploration of what constitutes Jewish identity.

10/26/2016 - 15:17
Special To The Jewish Week

Nowadays, one often hears Jews refer to themselves as “Jew-ish,” accentuating the second syllable in order to proclaim ambivalence about their religious and ethnic identity, suggesting that it is only a close approximation of, or only tangentially related to, actual membership in the tribe. Upon first hearing the title of Monica Piper’s new one-woman play, “Not That Jewish,” one might think, as I did, that the show, which opened on Sunday, is an extended exercise in downplaying, or perhaps even denigrating, Jewishness.

Monica Piper in “Not That Jewish,” a title steeped in irony. Photos by Carol Rosegg

Growing Into His Jewish Roles

Brandon Uranowitz, now starring in ‘Falsettos,’ is flourishing on Broadway, and he’s embracing his ethnicity.

10/19/2016 - 13:00
Special To The Jewish Week

‘I still love seeing people fly,” actor Brandon Uranowitz, 29, says, recalling his very first trip to Broadway when he was in elementary school, when he was entranced by seeing Cathy Rigby in “Peter Pan.” Uranowitz, a native of West Orange, N.J., has seen his own career take flight in recent years, most recently as a star of “An American in Paris,” in which he played the role of Adam Hochberg, the Jewish composer and pianist (played in the 1951 film by Oscar Levant) who is forced to flee from the Nazis. Now he’s back on Broadway in yet another Jewish role, that of Mendel (a psychiatrist with questionable ethics) in the revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s “Falsettos,” a musical about a quirky Jewish, baseball-loving family that is itself coming apart at the seams.

Brandon Uranowitz, with co-star Stephanie J. Block.

Anger Becomes Comedian Lewis Black

The bust-a-gut ranter on current events is back on Broadway.

09/21/2016 - 12:56

Remember Pixar’s 2015 film “Inside Out?” It was about an 11-year-old girl, Riley, and the five primary emotions raging inside her: Joy and Sadness, Fear and Disgust. And Lewis Black.
Sorry. We meant there was Anger. It’s an easy mistake to make.

Screed is good: The famously agitated Jewish comedian Lewis Black is returning to Broadway. Clay McBride

Fringe’s Jewish Offerings Go Somber

Shift in tone as violence and its aftermath move to center stage at downtown festival.

08/09/2016 - 16:24
Special To The Jewish Week

With fresh terror attacks occurring on an almost daily basis, the world seems like an ever more dangerous place. At this month’s 20th Anniversary Fringe Festival in New York, a trio of plays by female Jewish playwrights depict anxious young people grappling with violence and its aftermath. While the Fringe Festival has become known over the last two decades for zany sex comedies and light musicals, this year’s festival is notable for the solemnity of its fare, including its Jewish plays.

Charles Linshaw and Jeff Marcus in “From the Deep.” Courtesy of Boston Public Works

‘Merchant’ In The Age Of Rancor

Two productions hit here amid the politics of fear of ‘the other.’

07/20/2016 - 00:01
Culture Editor

One Shylock will be riding the subway from Washington Heights, and another just arrived from London, converging in New York City at a time when the issues of Shakespeare’s Venice seem very much alive here and abroad.

Jonathan Pryce as Shylock in Jonathan Munby’s “The Merchant of Venice,” at the Lincoln Center Festival. Marc Brenner

Back Channel To A Fleeting Peace

What ‘Oslo’ gets right (and wrong) about the Israeli-Palestinian Accords.

07/18/2016 - 14:24
Special To The Jewish Week

Some of the most important events in our lives happen behind our backs. While violence between the Israelis and Palestinians continues to make headlines, diplomats have said that any negotiations that have a chance of success must be conducted in secret. This is the lesson of the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, which set a framework for peace negotiations between the Israelis and the PLO. J.T. Rogers’ suspenseful, cleverly written new play, “Oslo,” which opened last week at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, tells how a pair of married Norwegian diplomats contrived, against the odds, to bring representatives of the two sides together to make historic concessions that led, ultimately to the first agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays in a scene from “Oslo. T. Charles Erickson

Yip Harburg’s Economic Rainbow

The Jews, the Irish, the presidential race and ‘Finian’s Rainbow.’

06/14/2016 - 18:23
Managing Editor

A student of the Broadway stage could be forgiven if he detected in the populace message of Bernie Sanders an echo of the progressivism in Yip Harburg’s book and lyrics for the musical “Finian’s Rainbow.” Income inequality, check. The haves and the have nots, check. The individual (those rapacious 1 percenters!) versus the collective, check.

Yip Harburg’s book and lyrics for “Finian’s Rainbow” prefigure the economic debate unleashed by Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
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