Theater

Echoes Of Gaza At The Fringe

Two aspects of Palestinian terrorism on tap at politically minded festival.

08/12/2014
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Despite this week’s cease-fire in Gaza, the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians reverberates half a world away in New York. In two plays at the New York International Fringe Festival this month, different facets of Palestinian terrorism come to the fore. In one, a one-woman show from Israel called “Samira,” presented by Anat Barzilay, the psychology of a female suicide bomber is laid bare. In the other, Meron Langsner’s “Over Here,” two young construction workers, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian, forge a fragile friendship while on a job site in Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11. Both plays are running through Aug. 24 in the East Village. 

Anat Barzilay, the playwright and star of “Samira,” about a female suicide bomber.  Courtesy of Fringe Festival

When Shiva Means More Than Mourning

A family comes apart in Josh Metzger’s ‘Sitting Shiva.’

08/06/2014
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In the intensity of its detachment from ordinary life, the shiva period can be an opportunity for bonding among the surviving family members. Or, as in Josh Metzger’s new play, “Sitting Shiva,” the Jewish mourning ritual can thrust family members together in a way that that brings long-buried resentments and jealousies to the fore. In Metzger’s lacerating drama, three middle-aged Jewish brothers who have gathered to mark their father’s passing end up battling over his emotional and financial patrimony. It runs through mid-August at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Neal Mayer stars as the eldest of three brothers in Josh Metzger’s in “Sitting Shiva.” Kristin Hoebermann

For Bert Berns’ Children, A Labor Of Love

New musical about soulful but long-forgotten songwriter is ‘fulfillment of Dad’s dream.’

08/05/2014
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They never knew their father, but the children of songwriter Bert Berns have spent the better part of a decade trying to rescue him from oblivion. And they are making a lot of people wonder why the creator of “Twist and Shout,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “Here Comes the Night” ever slipped from the rock music radar in the first place.

The cast of “Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story.” Jenny Anderson

The Keys To Survival

Mona Golabek’s Holocaust-themed ‘The Pianist of Willesden Lane.’

07/30/2014
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If anyone believes in the healing and redemptive properties of music, it is pianist Mona Golabek. Her new play, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” traces the harrowing story of her mother’s escape from the Nazis on the Kindertransport and the rebuilding of her life in London, on the way to a concert music career. It opened last week in Midtown; Charles Isherwood of The New York Times calls it “deeply affecting,” noting that the play is “packed with startling setbacks … and equally dramatic triumphs.”

Mona Golabek in “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.” Cynthia N. Olkie

Now You See Her…

07/15/2014
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Is the border between life and death more permeable than we imagine? In Patrick Emile’s new musical, “As We Lie Still,” a Jewish magician in Jazz Age New York performs a shocking, mind-bending trick every night on stage — until the fateful night when the trick fails, and his life and career are changed forever. “As We Lie Still” is running at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) in Midtown.

Patrick Emile’s “As We Lie Still” investigates the border between life and death. Courtesy of Patrick Emile

Channeling Lenny

Hershey Felder’s one-man show about ‘Maestro’ Leonard Bernstein.

07/09/2014
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He captivated a nation with the power of classical music, but failed in his lifelong ambition to become a major composer in his own right. With an outsize talent, and an ego to match, Leonard Bernstein led millions to an understanding and appreciation of classical music. Now, pianist Hershey Felder channels the great musician in “Maestro,” a performance at Town Hall next Thursday night. When it ran last month in Northern California, critic Robert Hurwitt of the San Francisco Chronicle called the 100-minute show a “blend of biography, humor, piano virtuosity, pathos and musical appreciation.”

Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro." Michael Lamont

Now You See Her…

For a Jewish magician in Jazz Age New York, a trick goes awry.

07/09/2014
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Is the border between life and death more permeable than we imagine? In Patrick Emile’s new musical, “As We Lie Still,” a Jewish magician in Jazz Age New York performs a shocking, mind-bending trick every night on stage — until the fateful night when the trick fails, and his life and career are changed forever. “As We Lie Still” premieres July 14 at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) in Midtown.

Magic touch? Scene from Patrick Emile's new musical, "As We Lie Still." Courtesy of Patrick Emile

Unleashing The Atomic Era

New rock musical focuses on moral dilemma of Hungarian Jewish scientist who invented the nuclear chain reaction.

07/01/2014
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Once unleashed, some genies are almost impossible to put back in their bottles. The unsung Hungarian Jewish genius Leó Szilárd invented the nuclear chain reaction, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor and convinced Albert Einstein to endorse the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb — only to campaign unsuccessfully for it not to be dropped on Japan.

Scene from “Atomic,” which features a huge “cube matrix” metal tower meant to suggest the periodic table. Carol Rosegg

A Yellow Star In Weimar

06/24/2014
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Life is a cabaret, as the song goes, but so, for the chanteuse at the center of Alexis Fishman’s new one-woman musical, “Der Gelbe Stern” (The Yellow Star), is death. In a nightclub in Weimar Germany, a Jewish singer named Erika Stern performs her last concert before her deportation. Reprising songs from the period, “Der Gelbe Stern” runs for five performances at the upcoming New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) in Midtown.

Alexis Fishman in “Der Gelbe Stern” at Laurie Beechman Theatre. Alina Gozin’a

What Religion Will The Kid Be?

06/18/2014
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Our relationship to our religion changes at different stages in our lives. In Renee Calarco’s new play, “The Religion Thing,” a Jewish man married to a Catholic woman finds himself at both a religious and emotional crossroads when his wife wants to get pregnant. When it premiered in 2012 at Theater J in Washington, D.C., critic Peter Marks of the Washington Post said that the playwright is astute in observing that America’s “biggest taboo isn’t talking about sex … it’s talking about faith.” The New York production, with a new cast and director, began previews this week in Chelsea.

Renee Calarco’s “The Religion Thing” turns on couples’ religious inclinations.  Teresa Castracane
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