Spiritual Mashup For The Holidays

12/17/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, people have celebrated changes of seasons with performances of festive music. In our own multi-faith culture, concerts that mark the beginning of winter typically feature a lot of Christmas carols, a few Chanukah songs, and a batch of tunes about snow. Now come Broadway stars Marc Kudisch and Jeffrey Denman in “Happy Merry Hanu-Mas,” which features a novel approach in which Jewish songs and blessings are interwoven with Christian music.

Marc Kudisch and Jeffrey Denman in the irreverent “Happy Merry Hanu-Mas.”

‘Asher Lev’ Canvas Not Lush Enough

New production moves briskly but painter’s struggle to master his craft isn’t dramatized.
12/03/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

How terrifying to be a child prodigy, to possess stunning artistic skills without the emotional maturity to handle them. And then how bewildering to live in a community that frowns on these gifts and forbids their expression. In Aaron Posner’s “My Name is Asher Lev,” the absorbing but overly reverential take on Chaim Potok’s 1972 novel that opened last week at the Westside Theater, a young chasidic painter launches a career that puts him squarely at odds with his family and community.

Ari Brand plays Asher Lev in a new production at the Westside Theater. Photo courtesy Westside Theater

Why Is This Night Different...

12/03/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Leading the Passover seder each year is, for many Jewish men, a sign of their continuing vigor and prominence within the family. In Jennifer Maisel’s Off-Broadway play, “The Last Seder,” directed by Jessica Bauman, a patriarch’s impending slide into dementia signals that nothing, including their Passover observances, will ever be the same.

Scene from “The Last Seder,” about family strains and Jewish ritual. Richard Termine

A Little Chanukah Magic

The 'Flying Latke' features a food fight, a media frenzy and a UFO scare.
11/26/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

For all the stories of Maccabees and cruses of oil, Chanukah is ultimately a holiday about family togetherness. So mused the multitalented artist Arthur Yorinks when he sat down more than a decade ago to write “The Flying Latke,” a children’s book about a Chanukah pancake that magically circumnavigates the globe. Now the tale’s play version, which sold out its run last year in Tribeca at The Flea Theater, returns to the same theater just in time for this year’s Festival of Lights.

Arthur Yorinks brings his “The Flying Latke” to the stage.

‘No Exit’ For Yiddish Poets

Englander’s debut as playwright crackles with observations about artists in repressive regime but lacks emotional punch.
11/19/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

For the ancient Romans, life was short but art endured — “vita brevis, ars longa,” as the Latin saying goes. Alas, the helpless Yiddish writers in Nathan Englander’s first play, “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” directed by Barry Edelstein, can count on neither, as they face the extinction of both their earthly existences and the entire Jewish cultural life of Russia. 

Daniel Oreskes, Ron Rifkin and Noah Robbins in “The Twenty-Seventh Man.” Joan Marcus

Streamlining The Double Life Of ‘Asher Lev’

In the battle for the painter’s soul, Aaron Posner’s new production leaves out the art but not the war within.
11/19/2012 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Does an artist have a responsibility to anything other than his or her art? In Chaim Potok’s novel, “My Name is Asher Lev,” a young chasidic painter in Brooklyn discovers that his artistic talent clashes irreconcilably with the dictates of his family and community.

Ari Brand as Asher Lev: Caught between art and family. Photos by Joan Marcus

Godfather Meets Fiddler

11/12/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Call him the Jewish Mack the Knife. Benya Krik, the corrupt but compelling anti-hero of Isaac Babel’s Odessa stories, springs back to life in Denis Woychuk and Stephen Brennan’s new musical, “Isaac Babel and the Gangster King.” 

A scene from “Isaac Babel and the Gangster King,” at the Kraine Theater.

A Storyteller Turned Playwright

Nathan Englander on going from page to stage with his short story, ‘The 27th Man.’
11/12/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Nathan Englander’s first play, “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” is about a struggling, unknown Jewish writer named Pinchas Pelovits apprehended by Stalin’s secret police along with prominent Yiddish poets slated for execution. Englander talked to The Jewish Week about the experience of becoming a playwright.

Nathan Englander.

Losing Yourself, Finding Yourself

11/05/2012 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

No one has articulated the plight of the immigrant better than Moses, who dolefully called himself a “stranger in a strange land.” That description would undoubtedly resonate with the characters in Sophia Romma’s absurdist new play, “Cabaret Émigré.” 

L-R: Carolyn Seiff, Grant Morenz, Allan Mirchin. Gestapo general trapped in Hell with grandparents of Jewish WWII soldier. Adele

Yiddish Theater, On The Margin

10/31/2012 - 20:00

Little did the theater director David Herskovitz know, when he caught The Jewish Museum’s 2008 exhibit on Marc Chagall and the Russian Jewish Theater, that he would end up spending the next stage of his career staging forgotten Yiddish works. Herskovitz’s theater company, Target Margin, is discovering that rescuing Yiddish plays from oblivion can transform audiences’ expectations.

David Herskovitz
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