Memory is sacred in Judaism. But can it overwhelm the present and prevent one from living? In Jon Robin Baitz’s 1991 play, “The Substance of Fire,” an irascible Holocaust survivor who owns a small New York publishing company insists on publishing only works on genocide, to the chagrin of his adult children who fear that the firm will go bankrupt. A major Off-Broadway revival, which is now in previews, opens next week at Second Stage in Midtown.
Five years after Bernie Madoff’s conviction and sentencing, the Ponzi schemer is as visible as ever in our popular culture. But after many plays and films that treated him with utmost seriousness, Madoff also became a target of satire, beginning with the 2011 comedy film, “Tower Heist,” in which Alan Alda played a Jewish financial whiz who robbed working people of their pension money. And then there was Lee Blessing’s 2013 darkly comic play, “A User’s Guide to Hell, Featuring Bernard Madoff.”
Idina Menzel, whose most recent triumph is singing the Oscar-winning song “Let It Go,” in the Disney movie “Frozen,” has made a triumphant return to Broadway in the new musical “If/Then” at the Richard Rodgers Theater on West 46th Street.
Some experiences are so traumatic that the mind refuses to believe that they are happening. In Imre Kertész’s “Fatelessness,” the Nobel Prize-winning novel based on the Hungarian author’s boyhood experiences during the Holocaust, a matter-of-fact tone bridges a yawning chasm of despair. Adam Boncz’s one-man stage version of the novel, adapted by Andras Visky, debuts next week in Soho; it arrives just as Hungary marks the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation.
Martha Clarke and the Atlantic Theater Company team up on a classic play with rich contemporary overtones.
Jewish Week Correspondent
The acclaimed dance-theater artist Martha Clarke says she has, for “some unknown reason,” always been “drawn to the historical.”
Maybe Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “The Threepenny Opera” is the reason. She certainly has some history with the classic theater work about criminality and corruption set during the waning days of the pre-World War II Weimar Republic in Germany.
Of all American comedians, none is more instantly recognizable than Groucho Marx. With his rolling eyes, greasepaint mustache, waggling cigar and stooped posture, Groucho remains part of our national consciousness more than three decades after his death. In his acclaimed traveling show, “An Evening With Groucho,” which comes to Queens this weekend, Frank Ferrante channels the great comedian. Accompanied by an on-stage pianist, Ferrante recreates Groucho’s routines, ad-libs with the audience, and warbles some of Groucho’s best-known songs, including “Hooray for Captain Spaulding” and “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.”
He was a heretic who boldly helped to invent secular Judaism. The 17th-century Dutch Jewish philosopher, Uriel Acosta, questioned Jewish orthodoxy at a time when the Jewish community in Amsterdam was still reeling from the Inquisition — and desperately seeking respectability in the eyes of Jews and non-Jews alike. Now, in the capstone production of its two-year Yiddish theater project, comes Target Margin’s “Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!” Now in previews, it opens next Monday night in Queens for a two-week run, with four actors each playing Acosta, in addition to other roles.
From Bert Lahr to Jack Gilford, among the most beloved of Broadway performers are “character actors” — those who play quirky and eccentric characters, often in supporting roles. With “Character Man,” Jim Brochu pays tribute to the character actors of yesteryear (many of whom were Jewish) who made an indelible mark on the theater. The one-man show opened last week Off-Broadway.
A new production of ‘Middle of the Night’ and a new biography fueling a reassessment of the screenwriter-playwright’s emotionally charged work.
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!”
Conflict between brothers is a familiar theme in Jewish culture, from warring brothers in the Torah to sibling rivalry in Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man.” Now comes Charles Gershman’s one-act drama, “Shooting Abe,” in which an Orthodox Jew bursts into his photographer brother’s nude male photo shoot. The play, which asks how far a Jew can stray from his heritage, continues this week at the Frigid New York Festival on the Lower East Side.