Theater

Of Siblings And Sinatra

10/03/2013
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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

Ayn Rand, The Play

10/02/2013
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When Mitt Romney chose the Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate in last year’s presidential election, Ayn Rand, the atheist Jewish author whom Ryan credited with inspiring him to seek public service, was also suddenly vaulted to public attention. Rand, a political philosopher and best-selling novelist, glorified individualism and capitalism over governmental power and collective responsibility.

No Horsey Set Here

09/24/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Despite the ironic and sardonic spirit that infuses the Yiddish language, the mame loshen also has its bleak and tragic side. In Peretz Hirshbein’s 1905 Yiddish play “Carcass,” now being presented, in English translation, by the New Worlds Theatre Project, a Jewish family is wrenched apart by poverty and despair.  It runs through this weekend in the South Village.

Scene from Peretz Hirshbein’s dark family drama “Carcass.” Hunter Canning

Inside Polanski’s Mind

09/17/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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For the Polish-Jewish filmmaker Roman Polanski, instinct rules human life. “My films,” he once said, “are the expression of momentary desires.”
   Now comes Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu’s one-man play, “Polanski Polanski,” starring Grant Neale, which explores the director’s putative state of mind during his most heinous act, his 1977 rape of Samantha Geimer in Jack Nicholson’s house on Mulholland Drive. The play opened earlier this month in Long Island City, just prior to this week’s release of Geimer’s memoir, “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.”

Grant Neale as Roman Polanski in Saviana Stanescu’s one-man play. Mihaela Marin

A Hellish Pyramid Scheme

09/10/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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He may not have been the devil incarnate, but for those whose lives were ruined by Bernie Madoff, he might as well have been. Now the white-collar criminal mastermind gets his just desserts in Lee Blessing’s new black comedy, “A User’s Guide to Hell, Featuring Bernard Madoff,” starring Edward James Hyland (“Boardwalk Empire”), which opened last weekend at Atlantic Stage in Chelsea.

Edward James Hyland, as Bernard Madoff, and David Deblinger in “A User’s Guide to Hell, Featuring Bernard Madoff.”

The Golem Comes To Cuba

09/03/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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It may have been cut from “Fiddler on the Roof,” but the song “When Messiah Comes,” a rueful ballad about the dashing of hopes, continues to resonate for theater director Michel Hausmann. Growing up in the Jewish community of Caracas, Venezuela, in the 1990s, Hausmann saw how the much-anticipated presidency of Hugo Chavez turned viciously against the Jewish state, as well as against the Jews of his own nation — leading the bulk of the Jewish population to depart for South Florida and Israel.

“When Messiah Comes,” at La MaMa, grows out of the playwright’s experiences with anti-Semitism in Venezuela. Carol Rosegg

The Boy King Before The War

Family musical brings new attention to Holocaust hero Janusz Korczak’s literary legacy.

08/27/2013
Jewish Week Correspondent
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It is difficult to view anything inspired by the work of Janusz Korczak, the Polish-Jewish physician/author/educator/orphanage proprietor, without interpreting it through the lens of his tragic death.

King Timmy (Cormac Cullinane) and his “cabinet” figure out how to deal with a problem. Carol Rosegg

An Asian ‘Awake And Sing’

08/27/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Asian Americans are often referred to as the “new Jews,” due to their reputation for studiousness, drive for success and, consequently, their remarkable rise in society over just the last few decades.

An all-Asian cast portrays a Jewish family in “Awake and Sing!” at Walker Space.

An Earthbound ‘Soul Doctor’

Show on the life of Shlomo Carlebach aims for spiritual uplift but doesn’t soar.

08/20/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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A 2008 Israeli documentary about Shlomo Carlebach, “You Never Know,” features followers of the late rabbi visiting his grave in Jerusalem, recounting stories of meeting him, and talking about the immense impact that he had on their lives.

Higher ground: Carlebach leading his cast of “holy beggars.” Carol Rosegg

Survival Instincts At Fringe Festival

Three solo shows by Jewish performers at the theater festival mine the preservation theme.

08/20/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Fringes are worn on Jewish garments to remind Jews to follow the commandments, to maintain the connection to God that has preserved them as a people. At the New York International Fringe Festival, now in its 17th year, three solo shows by Jewish performers also deal, in very different ways, with the theme of survival. From Mallory Schlossberg’s tale of single life in New York, “Molly Marjorie Rosenblatt Needs a Man,” to Lee J. Kaplan’s harrowing account of being tormented at school, “Bully,” to Evan Brenner’s paradoxical embrace of Buddhism, “The Hungry Ghost,” the Fringe Festival continues, like the fringes on clothing, to point in new and sometimes contradictory directions. 

Evan Brenner in “The Hungry Ghost.” Phoebe Sudrow
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