Love And Marriage, Song And Dance

From speed dating to weddings, three New York Musical Theater Festival productions give a 21st-century Jewish spin on romance.

Special To The Jewish Week

From the rival lovers in “Oklahoma” to the interracial relationships in “South Pacific,” romance has always been a major theme of the Broadway musical. Now come three new productions in the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) that give a 21st-century Jewish spin to themes of love and sex.

The cast of “My History of Marriage.”

History And Jewish Identity, Times Two

Two one-woman shows measure the continuing impact of Anne Frank’s story and of apartheid.

Special To The Jewish Week

History’s shadows never stop lengthening. Two one-woman shows playing next week in New York explore how historical processes shape modern Jewish identity. Carol Lempert’s “After Anne Frank,” investigates the effect of the Dutch teenager’s story on the performer’s own life, while Gabrielle Maisels’ “Bongani” examines a relationship between a white Jewish girl and the black son of her family housekeeper in post-apartheid South Africa.

Gabrielle Maisels as one of 11 characters in her play “Bongani,” about the lingering effects of apartheid.

Russian Dolls’ Meets ‘A Doll’s House’

Special To The Jewish Week

Talk about coitus interruptus. In Anna Fishbeyn’s new comedy, “Sex in Mommyville,” a couple struggles to find time in the bedroom while faced with unrelenting demands from whiny children and nosy parents. The show, which is a lusty, unbridled Russian Jewish updating of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” will be performed this weekend at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in Midtown.

A scene from Anna Fishbeyn’s “Sex in Mommyville.”

When Harry Met Eddie

Did the relationship between Harry Truman and Eddie Jacobson really lead to Israel’s creation?

Special To The Jewish Week

Were it not for Eddie Jacobson, a Jewish haberdasher from Kansas City, the State of Israel might never have come to be. So contends Mark Weston in his play, “Harry & Eddie: The Birth of Israel,” which traces Harry Truman’s decision to recognize the fledgling Jewish state to his long-time friendship with Jacobson. Directed by Bob Spiotto, the play has its premiere Off Broadway next week at St. Luke’s Theater in Midtown. Rick Grossman, Dan Hicks and Lydia Gladstone are all in the cast.

Dan Hicks as Harry Truman, Rick Grossman as Eddie Jacobson and Lydia Gladstone as Bluma Jacobson in scene from “Harry and Eddie.

The Ghost At The Seder Table

A bizarre Passover, courtesy of Charles Busch.

Special To The Jewish Week

From the Plagues visited on the Egyptians to the parting of the Red Sea, Passover is permeated with the supernatural. Little wonder, then, that Charles Busch’s new comedy, “Olive and the Bitter Herbs,” deals with a Passover seder hosted by a misanthropic elderly actress, Olive Fisher (Marcia Jean Kurtz) that is overshadowed by a mysterious ghost.

Dan Butler as Trey, Marcia Jean Kurtz as Olive, Richard Masur as Sylvan, and David Garrison as Robert in "Olive and the Bitter H

Midlife Crisis, Jewish Style

In ‘Herman Kline,’ a doctor grapples with his mortality.

Special To The Jewish Week

In Josh Koenigsberg’s “Herman Kline’s Midlife Crisis,” a successful Jewish trauma doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital (Adam LeFevre) risks his life and career when he brings home a bag of crack cocaine that he has found in a dead patient’s rectum.

Besides Kline, the other characters are the doctor’s wife, Liz (Kathryn Kates); a young premed student and family friend, Lauren (Mary Quick) and Lauren’s boyfriend, Ernie (Bobby Moreno), who is a drug dealer.

Kathryn Kates (as Liz Kline) and Adam LeFevre (as Herman Kline) in "Herman Kline's Midlife Crisis." Robert J. Saferstein

Steve Solomon’s ‘Still In Therapy’

The comic is back with a sequel to his one-man show.

Special To The Jewish Week

A recurrent dilemma in psychoanalysis revolves around the question of when the patient is actually cured — whether treatment is, as Freud put it, terminable or interminable. In Steve Solomon’s new one-man comedy, “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m STILL in Therapy,” the latter certainly appears to be the case, and the results are nothing if not uproarious.

Steve Solomon

Sinatra, Under His Skin

Cary Hoffman’s love letter to Old Blue Eyes.

Special To The Jewish Week

When does idolization cross over into obsession? Cary Hoffman, a shy Jewish kid growing up in postwar Queens, admired Frank Sinatra so much that he dreamed of becoming the singer himself. In Hoffman’s thought-provoking one-man show, “My Sinatra,” now playing Off-Broadway with musical direction by Alex Nelson, the performer interweaves the story of his infatuation with the singing of two dozen of the singer’s standards. His voice is so uncannily similar to Sinatra’s that few can tell them apart.

Cary Hoffman in "My Sinatra."

Sole Man

Danny Aiello bridges 9/11 and the Holocaust in ‘The Shoemaker.’

Special To The Jewish Week

Whether it is the piles of shoes left behind by Holocaust victims or the countless footwear-inspired idioms — filling someone’s shoes, walking a mile in someone’s shoes, putting the shoe on the other foot — the shoe is arguably our most evocative and symbolic item of clothing.

Danny Aiello, an Italian-Jewish Holocaust survivor, and Alma Cuervo in scene from “The Shoemaker.” Photos by Ben Hider

Women And The Blacklist

Did they react differently than men? ‘Diminished Fifth’ probes the question.

Special To The Jewish Week

Anti-Semitism was never far below the surface of the notorious blacklist of the 1950s. Did sexism play a role as well? In Julie S. Halpern’s new play, “Diminished Fifth,” two women with Jewish roots, writers Lillian Hellman (Stacey Scotte) and Dorothy Parker (Jacquelyn Poplar), along with three non-Jewish women, broadcaster Jean Muir (Mary McGloin), actress Margaret Webster (Elaine LeGaro) and civil rights activist Eslanda Robeson (Ronalda Ay Nicholas), grapple with the shattering experience of being blacklisted.

A scene from "Diminished Fifth."
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