Hypnotic Effect

12/19/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

He was a Jewish astrologer and hypnotist who purportedly taught Hitler how to control the masses. Erik Jan Hanussen, whose performances of occult magic were the talk of Weimar Berlin, was credited with foretelling the Reichstag fire and the rise of the Nazis. In Ildiko Nemeth’s new play, “Hypnotik: The Seer Will Doctor You Now,” Hanussen (Peter B. Schmitz) returns to life in all his mesmerizing glory. The play opens Dec. 28 at the Theater for the New City in the East Village.

Sarah Lemp as the Baroness in “Hypnotik".

‘Shlemiel’ As ‘Post-Modern Farce’

David Gordon brings new movement, literally, to the Folksbiene’s production of the iconic Yiddish tale.
12/12/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

A shlemiel is defined, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, as a “habitual bungler, a dolt.” In the hands of the creators of the rousing klezmer musical, “Shlemiel the First,” which is being revived this month by the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, we are all shlemiels in our fumbling attempts at knowledge of each other and ourselves. The tuneful, exuberant show began performances this week at the Skirball Center of NYU.

Michael Iannucci as Shlemiel, spreading the “wisdom” of the Wise Men of Chelm in “Shlemiel the First.” Gerry Goodstein

Ghosts Of Chanukahs Past

12/05/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Judging by the Jewish penchant for parody, nothing is sacred in Western culture. We’ve seen Yiddish translations of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Mickey Katz and Allan Sherman spoofs of classical music and popular songs and Mel Brooks send-ups of classic film genres.

Jackie Hoffman as a Jewish scrooge in “A Chanukah Charol.”  Carol Rosegg

Too Much Mandy,Not Enough Patti

Patinkin shines (too brightly?) in uneven concert with LuPone.
11/28/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

He seems capable of anything, this dashing man with the magical, mellifluous voice. The compulsively watchable Mandy Patinkin, back on Broadway in a concert of show tunes with Patti LuPone, is ever the master entertainer. If only Patinkin’s outsize ego did not practically crowd his costar off the stage. LuPone fans, take note. The much ballyhooed “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” is mostly, and most memorably, an evening with the latter.

Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone sing tunes from “Company,” “South Pacific” and “Evita,” among others, in their new show.

The Two Faces Of Jakie Rabinowitz

11/21/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Nothing captures the dilemma of being a Jew in America as starkly as “The Jazz Singer,” the paradigmatic tale of a cantor’s son caught between the two worlds of immigrant Jewish life and success as a blackface entertainer on Broadway. Most know the story from the three film versions — Al Jolson’s electrifying 1927 “first talkie,” Danny Thomas’ 1952 Academy Award-nominated remake (co-starring Peggy Lee) and Neil Diamond’s flag-waving 1980 pop music version.

Justin Flagg and Christine Bullen in a scene from “The Jazz Singer,” directed by Laura Livingston.

Gut Check

11/15/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The stomach, scientists say, is a “second brain,” a nervous system where learning, memory and emotion all take place. Liat Ron’s loosely autobiographical one-woman play, “Guts,” is the tale of a self-described “Israeli-American superwoman” named Hellthy who finds the intestinal fortitude to overcome an eating disorder, relationship problems and an excessive need for parental nurturance.

Liat Ron in "Guts," a Jewish take on eating disorders." Audrey Larson

Dreamland, With Puppets

Misha Shulman’s surrealistic ‘Deathscape.’
11/14/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

‘In dreams,” the title of Delmore Schwartz’s classic short story goes, “begin responsibilities.” The protagonist of Misha Shulman’s surrealistic new play, “Deathscape,” would certainly agree. The playwright’s stand-in, Me (Matthew Cabbil), undertakes a mission to find the Drug Man, who is in possession of a narcotic that brings the user in touch with everything that he is in denial of.

Puppets and projections play major roles in “Deathscape.”

A Classroom Clash Of Cultures

In ‘Yo Miss,’ Judith Sloan mines her experience teaching new immigrant teens.
10/31/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

New York is reborn every day through the collision of cultures, producing new fusions and syntheses. In performance artist Judith Sloan’s new one-woman show, “Yo Miss! Teaching Inside the Cultural Divide,” an intrepid Jewish teacher weaves documentary, poetry, autobiography and music from her searing encounters with immigrant, refugee and incarcerated youths. With music direction by famed klezmer trumpeter Frank London, the show features musicians Adam Hill and MiWi LaLupa performing a smattering of Jewish, Arabic and Chinese songs, along with hip hop and polka.

The universality of human experience, says Sloan, above, can lead to cross-cultural understanding.

Burns, Baby, Burns

A double dose of the iconic straight man, in the same weekend.
10/24/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

With the decline of the comedy duo, the straight man no longer plays a prominent role in our culture. But in Rupert Holmes’ “Say Goodnight, Gracie,” the revival of the one-man show that opens Sunday afternoon starring Joel Rooks as funnyman George Burns, the king of straight men gets his due.

A cigar and a one-liner: Joel Rooks as George Burns in “Say Goodnight, Gracie.” Scott Myers

A Rabbi’s Moral Choices

‘A Splintered Soul’ looks at the often-paradoxical nature of ethical decision-making.
10/18/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Trauma leaves nothing whole. In Alan Lester Brooks’ new play, “A Splintered Soul,” a maverick rabbi in postwar San Francisco risks his life and career to resettle Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. Yet aiding others plunges the rabbi into a world of agonizing moral choices, in which things are not always what they seem. “A Splintered Soul” opens Off Broadway Oct. 21 at Theater Three in Midtown with a cast that features Ella Dershowitz, daughter of celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, in her New York theatrical debut.

Ella Dershowitz, the daughter of Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, makes her N.Y. theatrical debut in Alan Lester Brooks.
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