Theater

Chanukah And Heresy

12/16/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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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.

‘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
Special To The Jewish Week
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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
Special To The Jewish Week
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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
Special To The Jewish Week
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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
Special To The Jewish Week
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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

‘Fortress Of Solitude,’ The Musical

11/11/2014
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Music runs like a river through Jonathan Lethem’s best-selling 2003 novel, “The Fortress of Solitude,” set in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The work centers on the unlikely friendship between two boys, one Jewish and the other African American, as both navigate a world being turned upside down by drugs and economic inequality,

Adam Chanler-Berat in “Fortress of Solitude,” based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel.  Joan Marcus

The Sound Of (Electronic) Music

11/04/2014
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His name may not ring a bell, but his music became part of the soundtrack of American pop culture. Raymond Scott was a bandleader, pianist, composer and inventor of electronic instruments whose zany melodies were used in more than 100 animated shorts. In the new play, “Powerhouse,” Scott comes roaring back to life. When “Powerhouse” premiered at the Fringe Festival five years ago, Jason Zinoman of The New York Times called it “one steam train of a drama … the rare Fringe show that lives up to its title.” A revised version opened last weekend in the West Village.

Scene from “Powerhouse,” about electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott.  Josh Luxenberg

Double Vision On Israel

Zvi Sahar’s ‘Salt of the Earth’ features puppetry set against shifting pillars of salt.

10/28/2014
Culture Editor
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The puppet at the center of Zvi Sahar’s “Salt of the Earth” is made out of an Israeli combat bag from the 1967 war. Sahar thought that he might make the figure out of stone or olive wood, but when he saw the bag at a Jaffa flea market, he liked it immediately.

Ships: Jim R. Moore

Shulamit’s Song

10/28/2014
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From Neil Diamond’s 1969 gospel-infused tune, “Holly Holy,” to this past summer’s “Song of Solomon: The Musical” by Andrew Beall and Neil van Leeuwen, the Song of Songs from the Hebrew Bible has inspired American songwriters for generations. Now comes pianist Dina Pruzhansky’s chamber opera, “Shulamit,” which centers on the bold and beautiful lover taken by King Solomon. The work, which premieres this weekend at the JCC Manhattan, will be sung in Hebrew with English supertitles.

Pianist Dina Pruzhansky’s chamber opera, “Shulamit,” is based on the biblical Song of Songs. Rusiko Mchedlishvili
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