Theater

Ayn Rand, With A Rock Beat

Her post-apocalyptic novella ‘Anthem’ gets a high-tech, sci-fi reworking.

05/27/2014
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If anyone believed in the power of freedom, it was Ayn Rand. In her best-selling novels, “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand, an atheist Jewish immigrant from Russia, articulated an ideology of individualism that still holds sway in American political and economic life, particularly among conservatives whose faith in the free market is absolute.

Randy Jones and Remy Zaken, in “Anthem.” Michael Blase

Precious Stones

A Holocaust-themed play, with diamonds.

05/22/2014
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Many Holocaust survivors have harrowing tales of persevering against the odds. But in few such stories does courage shine through in quite the same way as in Carrie Robbins’ multifaceted play, “The Diamond Eater,” about a jeweler who swallows his precious stones in order to retrieve them later for barter.  

A darkly funny Holocaust play is based on a true story. Fotolia

Immigrant Tales Hit The Streets

05/14/2014
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Inspired by immigrant-themed stories from The New York Times from a century ago, Ryan Gilliam and Michael Hickey’s new site-specific musical, “The News,” is running on street corners, parks, and other venues on the Lower East Side. As the audience members, who are wearing special MP3 players, move from one place to the next, the youthful 31-member company (ages 12 to 16) dances to pre-recorded music that only the audience can hear.

A scene from the site-specific immigrant-themed play “The News.”  Michael Hickey

Variations On A Theme Of Family

05/06/2014
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Each generation reinterprets its family history, finding new connections and drawing new conclusions. Just ask playwright Charlie Schulman and composer Michael Roberts, who crafted “The Goldstein Variations,” a new musical about three generations of a Jewish family. Like Jon Robin Baitz’s recent play, “Other Desert Cities,” the work shows how a child’s tell-all memoir opens up fault lines within the family, as different generations join the battle to defend their respective understandings of the past. It will be performed in a workshop production beginning next Monday in Midtown.

Eric Liberman stars as a successful Jewish novelist writing a memoir in “The Goldstein Variations.”

Fanny Brice, Times Four

04/29/2014
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One of the first Jewish women to break — or crash — into vaudeville, Fanny Brice paved the way for female comics from Lucille Ball to Gilda Radner. Fans of Brice will have a rare opportunity this weekend to hear four top-notch singers pay tribute to her in a mixture of solos and duets, backed by a six-piece band. “Ziegfeld Girl: The Many Faces of Fanny Brice” runs for just five performances at the 92nd Street Y, with such standards as “Second Hand Rose” and “My Man” on the program.

Four top-notch singers pay tribute to Fanny Brice in “Ziegfeld Girl” at 92nd Street Y.  Wikimedia Commons

Creating A New, Old Herr Schultz

In Broadway revival of ‘Cabaret,’ veteran actor Danny Burstein ponders the latest iteration of the show’s Jewish character.

04/29/2014
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Anyone who has seen a version of the musical “Cabaret” will recall the dazzling, provocative world of the Kit Kat Club, a fictional nightclub in pre-World War II Berlin. At the top of the show, a vivacious emcee, originated by Joel Grey, beckons us inside enticingly. “We have no troubles here!” he promises. “Here, life is beautiful.”

Danny Burstein, Linda Emond and Alan Cumming in scene from “Cabaret.”   Joan Marcus

Creating A New, Old Herr Schultz

Veteran actor Danny Burstein ponders the latest iteration of Cabaret's Jewish character in latest Broadway revival.

04/24/2014
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Anyone who has seen a version of the musical “Cabaret” will recall the dazzling, provocative world of the Kit Kat Club, a fictional nightclub in pre-World War II Berlin. At the top of the show, a vivacious emcee, originated by Joel Grey, beckons us inside enticingly. “We have no troubles here!” he promises. “Here, life is beautiful.”

Danny Burstein returns to Broadway for the 15th time in the latest revival of "Cabaret."
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The engagement party scene in "Cabaret." Joan Marcus
Danny Burstein
"Cabaret" returns to Broadway. Joan Marcus
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A Rent In The Garment

04/23/2014
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Some scars are more visible than others. In Jane Prendergast’s “Ashes,” set in the period following the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a teenage Jewish girl is caught between her mother, who disapproves of her having a baby, and her husband, a survivor of the fire who wants to start a new life. The one-act drama runs as part of Metropolitan Playhouse’s new batch of “East Side Stories,” a festival of one-act plays and monologues inspired by life on the Lower East Side.

Lauren T. Mack plays Ethel in Jane Prendergast’s “Ashes,” set after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

The Fire This Time

04/17/2014
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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. 

Jon Robin Baitz’s “The Substance of Fire” is a family drama focused on the publishing industry.

Madoff, The Farce

04/08/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

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.”

“Greed,” at New World Stages, is a satirical look at the life of Bernard Madoff. Celeste Muniz
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