‘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.

Keret Comes To The Stage

First theatrical adaptation of the acclaimed Israeli author’s ‘magical realm’ poses its share of challenges.

05/31/2016 - 15:09
Special To The Jewish Week

He’s been called the Franz Kafka, the Kurt Vonnegut and the Woody Allen of Israeli fiction. But Etgar Keret is in a class by himself. His film scripts, short stories and graphic novels are slangy, slick, and surrealistic, with a plethora of impossible things perpetually happening to high-strung, raw-nerved, world-weary Israelis. A collection of Keret’s short stories, “Suddenly, a Knock at the Door,” has now been adapted for the stage by playwright Robin Goldfin. Directed by David Carson, the play has just kicked off a two-week run in the East Village.

Etgar Keret’s short story collection, “Suddenly, A Knock at the Door,” features a talking fish, among other leaps of imagination

Orthodox Women Take On ‘Vagina Monologues’

05/24/2016 - 16:16

Sixty college-aged Orthodox women packed into a Washington Heights apartment earlier this month to talk about sexual identity, menstruation and … vaginas.

The Off-Broadway play “Vagina Monologues”  is a production in Germany .wikimedia commons

On Your Marx…

Here comes a long-forgotten Marx Brothers musical, ‘I’ll Say She Is,’ with the old skits and new material.

05/24/2016 - 15:28
Special To The Jewish Week

Before “Duck Soup,” “A Night at the Opera” and the other madcap 1930s films for which the Marx Brothers became internationally famous, they were already vaudeville superstars. They made the leap onto the Broadway stage in 1924 with a hit musical revue, “I’ll Say She Is,” about a rich girl who promises her hand to the suitor who can show her the most exciting time.

Matt Walters, Noah Diamond, Melody Jane, Seth Shelden and Matt Roper. Photos by Mark X Hopkins

For Patinkin, A Musical Homeland

05/17/2016 - 15:26

On the set of “Homeland,” Mandy Patinkin softly sings Yiddish lullabies before the cameras roll.

These days, whether he’s performing live in concert or recording television, he runs through the lyrics of “Mamaloshen,” his 1998 collection of Yiddish songs, as a warm-up. “It focuses my mind,” he says. “The foreign-language tongue twisters engage my brain.”

A performance May 23 at Lincoln Center will return Mandy Patinkin to the Yiddish he heard while growing up.Jennifer altman

Religious Tolerance Moves To Center Stage

New production of ‘Nathan the Wise’ raises tough questions about faith, morality and religious truth.

04/05/2016 - 13:20
Special To The Jewish Week

‘Every time he hears the word ‘Jew’, he’s ready to punch someone,” F. Murray Abraham told The Jewish Week in an interview about the title character he plays in “Nathan the Wise,” now running at the Classic Stage Company. But it is the character’s Jewish faith that keeps his anger in check.

F. Murray Abraham stars as a pious Jew in “Nathan the Wise,” set in 12th-century Jerusalem. Photos by Richard Termine

‘Fiddler’ In His Veins

Wearing his father’s well-worn boots, Michael Bernardi carries on a family tradition that stretches back years.

03/16/2016 - 08:51
Culture Editor

Over in Anatevka, on Broadway, Michael Bernardi is pouring vodka for customers at the village inn, keeping the peace among rivals and occasionally breaking out into song and dance.

Michael Bernardi as Tevye. Courtesy of Michael Bernardi

The Sephardic Reach, Through Cinema

03/02/2016 - 09:06
Special To The Jewish Week

The first Jews in New Amsterdam, as New York City was once called, were Sephardim from Brazil who had escaped the dangers of the Inquisition in the New World by heading north to the more tolerant air of the Dutch colony. They had knowingly recapitulated the trajectory of many Sephardic Jews before them who had found refuge in the Netherlands. Consequently, the first synagogues in North America followed the traditions established in Spain and Portugal before the Expulsion in 1492.

Pramila (Esther Abraham), left, the first woman to win the title of Miss India, and Egyptian film star Leila Mourad.
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