Theater

Celebs’ Jewish Lives Celebrated In Song

From Edgar Bronfman to Gwyneth Paltrow to Aaron Sorkin, musical dramatizes interviews pulled from Abigail Pogrebin’s book.

11/05/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Ever since the rise of celebrity culture a century ago, Jews have been among the most lionized figures in our society. But how do the most prominent American Jews relate to their Jewish identity?

The interviews “were more intimate and candid than I expected,” says Abigail Pogrebin.

Aging ‘Fancifully’

11/05/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Despite Talmudic teachings about treating the aged with reverence, elderly people are often relegated to the margins of our society. But to playwright Richard Abrons, whose “Every Day a Visitor,” is being revived this month, the last phase of life can be filled with great creativity, energy and vigor. The play opens next Thursday evening for a month-long run at the Clurman Theatre in Midtown, with George Morfogen (from the HBO series “Oz”) leading a nine-member cast.

Richard Abrons’ “Every Day a Visitor” is set in a dilapidated old age home in the Bronx. Ronald L. Glassman

Couples Therapy For Arafat And Peres

10/30/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Working in Israel’s mission to the United Nations and listening to the Israelis and Palestinians bickering, complaining and trading insults, the Jewish Australian actor Jeremie Bracka suddenly envisioned Yasir Arafat and Shimon Peres in American-style couples therapy. Thus was born “Arafat in Therapy,” in which Bracka portrays 20 different characters, each with his — or her — own perspective on the peace process. The hour-long parody will be performed this weekend at the United Solo Festival in Midtown.

Australian actor Jeremie Bracka in his one-man show, “Arafat in Therapy,” inspired by work at UN Mission.

Anthony Weiner, The Play

‘The Weiner Monologues’ offers a running commentary on the nature of media and a world where nothing is private.

10/29/2013
Jewish Week Correspondent

Oedipus. Macbeth. Anthony Weiner?

In “The Weiner Monologues,” which question the ever-changing meaning of the phrase “private life,” the fallen congressman emerges as something of a modern tragic hero.

The fallen congressman as tragic hero? The poster for “The Weiner Monologues.”

Jew Vs. Jew, Onstage

Are there any ‘good Jews’ in the Joshua Harmon’s ‘Bad Jews,’ which pits religious against secular MOTs?

10/29/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Art provides deeper, more complex pictures of social reality than statistics ever can. The Pew Research Center survey, which has occasioned much hand-wringing, found that a majority of American Jews, despite maintaining pride in their heritage, still marry non-Jews, eschew synagogue membership and perform few traditional Jewish rituals. For those seeking a more nuanced understanding of how disaffection from Jewish religion can coexist with a continuing attachment to Judaism, look no further than Joshua Harmon’s “Bad Jews.” Directed by Daniel Aukin, it is  the absorbing, funny and heartbreaking play that is now running in an encore engagement at the Roundabout Theatre’s Laura Pels Theatre.

The manic Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger and Michael Zegen in “Bad Jews.” Getty Images

Dr. Ruth, The Play

10/22/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

One of the most extraordinary women of our time, Dr. Ruth Westheimer almost single-handedly brought a frank discussion of sexuality to a society largely governed by Puritanical, and then Victorian, ideas about erotic pleasure. Now the compelling life history of the diminutive, German-accented powerhouse comes to the stage in Mark St. Germain’s one-woman show, “Becoming Dr. Ruth: The Unexpected Journey,” starring Debra Jo Rupp. The play, which is currently in previews, opens next week at the Westside Theatre in Midtown.

Debra Jo Rupp portrays legendary sex therapist in “Becoming Dr. Ruth.” Carol Rosegg

A German-Jewish-American ‘Alien’

10/16/2013

Growing up in Hamburg, Germany, in the 1980s, Lucie Pohl heard the term “Heil, Hitler” long before she knew what it meant; she thought it was a cheery, casual greeting. Her first solo show, “Hi, Hitler” is a comedic account of her chaotic upbringing as the daughter of two famous German theater artists, and her own subsequent journey to America. The hour-long show is being produced this month at a series of women’s theater festivals, with the remaining performances on Oct. 23 and 25.

Lucie Pohl in her first solo show "Hi, Hitler" directed by Jessi D. Hill.

‘This Isn’t Your Bubbe’s Holocaust Play’

Almost 20 years after a troubled Off-Broadway run, Donald Margulies’ Shoah-themed dark comedy ‘The Model Apartment’ is back.

10/09/2013
Special To The Jewish Week.

It was anything but a model production. Soon after Donald Margulies’ Holocaust-themed black comedy, “The Model Apartment,” premiered Off Broadway at Primary Stages in 1995, its lead actor, Paul Stolarsky, repeatedly called in sick and then abruptly left the company. Another actor stepped in and, script in hand, tried to rescue the production. But the play’s run had been compromised, despite positive reviews, including one from Ben Brantley of The New York Times that called it a “glowing reminder of the particular pungency and intelligence” of Margulies’ work. Now, hoping for better luck, the same company is reviving the play; it opens next Tuesday evening in Midtown.

Kathryn Grody portrays an aging Holocaust survivor in Donald Margulies' "The Model Apartment."

The Biblical Tamar Gets Her Moment

10/09/2013

Call her the Mame Dennis, or Gypsy Rose Lee, of the Bible. Of all the courageous women in the Torah, none has more moxie than Tamar, who will stop at nothing to achieve her ambition — to have a child of her own. Now the bold and wily character is the star of her own musical, “Tamar of the River,” in which the eponymous heroine contrives to bring peace to a war-torn land. Composed by Marisa Michelson, it runs through next weekend at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

A scene from "Tamar of the River," which is being staged at The Baruch Performing Arts Center. Richard Termine

Of Siblings And Sinatra

10/03/2013

He was an idol to millions, and his music was the soundtrack to American life. In Bernard Kops’ 1991 play, “Playing Sinatra,” an adult Jewish brother and sister in northwest London, living together in the same flat, bond over their mutual infatuation with the Italian-American singer. A revival is now running in the East Village, with Austin Pendleton featured in the cast. It comes just two years after Cary Hoffman’s Jewish tribute to Frank Sinatra, “My Sinatra.”

Katharine Cullison, Austin Pendleton and Richard McElvain in Bernard Kops’ “Playing Sinatra.” Jonathan Slaff
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