Theater

Birth Pangs Of A Dad-To-Be

05/10/2011

Few things in life are more stressful than becoming a parent for the first time. In Jonathan Marc Sherman’s new play, “Knickerbocker,” a 40-year-old Jewish man, Jerry (Alexander Chaplin, who played the speechwriter James Hobert on the ABC sitcom “Spin City”) comes to grips with his own fears of impending fatherhood. Directed by Pippin Parker, who chairs the playwriting department at The New School, “Knickerbocker” opens next week at the Public Theater Lab, just a few blocks away from the eponymous restaurant where it is set.

Alexander Chaplin and Mia Barron in Jonathan Marc Sherman’s “Knickerbocker.” Carol Rosegg

Wedding Bell Blues

05/03/2011

If what you don’t know won’t hurt you, how far should you go to keep yourself in the dark? In Hanoch Levin’s black farce “Winter Wedding,” the members of a benighted Russian Jewish family are willing to do anything, including commit murder, to blind themselves from learning that a relative has died on the eve of a long-awaited family wedding. Directed by David Willinger, the play opens this weekend at the Theater for the New City in the East Village.

Nikki Iliopoulou, left, and Debra Zane in scene from Hanoch Levin’s black comedy “Winter Wedding.”

Sour Notes

Concert pianist-turned-playwright Israela Margalit looks at cutthroat world of classical music in ‘First Prize.’

04/27/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Classical music offers spiritual transcendence for performers and audience members alike. But as the distinguished Israeli pianist and playwright Israela Margalit suggests in her loosely autobiographical new play, “First Prize,” the classical music world is also saturated with much that is sordid and soul-destroying. “First Prize,” which begins previews this weekend at the Arclight Theatre on the Upper West Side, features music from Margalit’s own celebrated recordings with some of the world’s greatest orchestras.

Israela Margalit, right, and Lori Prince,above, who plays the pianist in “First Prize.”

My Brother The Chasid

04/18/2011

Secular Jews often embrace Orthodoxy, and they do so for a variety of spiritual and psychological reasons. But when newfound piety creates a holier-than-thou attitude, family conflicts are typically in store. In Joseph Sousa’s first play, “Teeth of the Sons,” now being produced by the Barefoot Theatre Company in the West Village, two brothers find their relationship sorely tested one when one brother becomes a chasid.

Brother act: Will Allen and Joseph Sousa in scene from Sousa’s “Teeth of the Sons.” Jason Zimbler

Preparing For The Inevitable

Waiting for the Nazis in the shadows, in ‘Mr. M.’

04/05/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Waiting for the unknown can be filled with terrors of its own. In “Mr. M,” a new work by Vit Horejs’ Czech-American Marionnette Theater, live actors and puppets combine to tell the story of a Czech Jew (Ronny Wasserstrom) during the Second World War who lives in such dread of being summoned by the Nazis that he takes on physical trials to prepare himself to undergo deprivation and torture. Adrienne Cooper performs Yiddish songs live as part of the production, which will be presented at both the Theater for the New City and at the JCC in Manhattan.

Ronny Wasserstrom, above, stars as the title character in “Mr. M.” The production at the Theater for the New City.

Second Avenue Runs In The Family

Michael Tilson Thomas remembers his grandparents, the Thomashefskys,
and the heyday of Yiddish theater.

03/29/2011
Staff Writer

The triple-barreled name Michael Tilson Thomas brings to mind gentility, aristocracy even. In fact, it is sort of prophetic: the real Michael Tilson Thomas is one of America’s blue-chip composers and conductors, a debonair figure whose elegant, long limbs and silver-draped hair suit the name well.

But if Thomas had had it his way, his name would have been something quite different: Michael Thomashefsky. “Thomashefsky” was the surname that of his paternal grandparents, whose names are synonymous with American Yiddish theater.

In “The Thomashefskys,” Michael Tilson Thomas, recounts a good part of the history of Yiddish theater.

Mary, Quite Contrary

03/15/2011

Jewish mothers are a staple of Jewish humor, but as freewheeling as Jewish mother jokes may get, they do not typically relate to Mary, mother of Jesus. Now comes Michele A. Miller’s slapstick comedy, “Mother of God!,” in which what Christians deem the “greatest story ever told” is reframed as the tale of a dysfunctional Jewish family in ancient Nazareth. The play opened last week at the Richmond Theater on East 26th Street.

Scene from Michele A. Miller’s slapstick comedy “Mother of God!”

Putting A Face On Triangle Victims

03/08/2011

It happened a century ago, but the terrible memories remain seared into our collective consciousness. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on the Lower East Side, in which 146 Jewish and Italian garment workers died, was a defining event in the history of immigrant life — and death — in New York.

Gusta Johnson and Amanda Yachechak in scene from Barbara Kahn’s “Birds on Fire.”

The Art Of ‘Sisterhood’

Israeli artist Ofri Cnaani challenges the Talmudic Sota story.

03/01/2011
Staff Writer

There is not much ambiguity in the 14-line Talmudic story known as “Sota.” As a parable about adultery, the tale is pretty straightforward: a husband accuses his wife of cheating on him, and then orders her to drink from a special fountain with “bitter water.” If she’s guilty, she’ll die; if she’s innocent she’ll be blessed with fertility.

The Talmudic story called “Sota” focuses on two sisters.

Anne, With Strings Attached

Puppets are moving, but ‘Compulsion,’Patinkin are less so.

03/01/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

She seems both alive and dead at the same time, a plucky, precocious girl whose life was tragically cut short at 15. How perfectly appropriate then, that Anne Frank is played by an amazingly life-like marionette in Rinne Groff’s “Compulsion,” a play about the Jewish writer Meyer Levin’s obsession with Anne Frank’s diary.

Hannah Cabell, Mandy Patinkin and the life-like marionette portraying Anne Frank in “Compulsion.” Joan Marcus
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