Theater

Unleashing The Atomic Era

New rock musical focuses on moral dilemma of Hungarian Jewish scientist who invented the nuclear chain reaction.

07/01/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

Once unleashed, some genies are almost impossible to put back in their bottles. The unsung Hungarian Jewish genius Leó Szilárd invented the nuclear chain reaction, patented the idea of a nuclear reactor and convinced Albert Einstein to endorse the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb — only to campaign unsuccessfully for it not to be dropped on Japan.

Scene from “Atomic,” which features a huge “cube matrix” metal tower meant to suggest the periodic table. Carol Rosegg

A Yellow Star In Weimar

06/24/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

Life is a cabaret, as the song goes, but so, for the chanteuse at the center of Alexis Fishman’s new one-woman musical, “Der Gelbe Stern” (The Yellow Star), is death. In a nightclub in Weimar Germany, a Jewish singer named Erika Stern performs her last concert before her deportation. Reprising songs from the period, “Der Gelbe Stern” runs for five performances at the upcoming New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) in Midtown.

Alexis Fishman in “Der Gelbe Stern” at Laurie Beechman Theatre. Alina Gozin’a

What Religion Will The Kid Be?

06/18/2014

Our relationship to our religion changes at different stages in our lives. In Renee Calarco’s new play, “The Religion Thing,” a Jewish man married to a Catholic woman finds himself at both a religious and emotional crossroads when his wife wants to get pregnant. When it premiered in 2012 at Theater J in Washington, D.C., critic Peter Marks of the Washington Post said that the playwright is astute in observing that America’s “biggest taboo isn’t talking about sex … it’s talking about faith.” The New York production, with a new cast and director, began previews this week in Chelsea.

Renee Calarco’s “The Religion Thing” turns on couples’ religious inclinations.  Teresa Castracane

Coexistence, With Oud

06/10/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

With all the hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway, the musical’s final scene of the shtetl-dwelling Jews being forced off their land lingers in our minds. But to visual artist and playwright Tom Block, it is not just Jews, but Arabs as well, who have suffered displacement from a cherished homeland.

Artist Tom Block’s mural serve as a backdrop for play at the 14th Street Y.  Courtesy of Tom Block

A Stage For New Playwrights

06/03/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

New York is a mecca for Jewish theater of all kinds, but budding Jewish playwrights often have a difficult time getting their creations in front of audiences. Now comes JFest, a festival of three remarkably different new Jewish works. The festival kicks off this weekend at the JCC in Manhattan after runs at the JCCs in West Hartford, Conn., and Wayne, N.J.

“The Gefilte Fish Chronicles,” performed last year at the White House, is part of JFest theater festival. Courtesy of JFest

‘A Touchstone For Modern Jewish Identity’

The Folksbiene marks ‘Fiddler’ at 50.

06/03/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

For a musical about the ravages of time on an ancestral heritage, “Fiddler on the Roof” has itself aged remarkably well. While much has changed in the half-century since “Fiddler” first had its Broadway debut, the Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick-Joseph Stein musical inspired by the dissolution of the Eastern European Jewish way of life still crystallizes for American Jews the value of their Jewish roots.

Andrea Martin and Harvey Fierstein starred in a 2005 revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Courtesy of Folksbiene

Hitler And His Niece: Abuse Of Power

05/27/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

http://www.3vtheater.comShe was the niece of the most evil man who ever lived — and he was in love with her.

Aliza Shane’s new play, “Mein Uncle,” is loosely based on the relationship between Hitler and Geli Raubal, his half-niece, with whom he was sexually obsessed. The play, which is more fantasy than history, asks whether the abuse of power in a relationship can have repercussions that extend into the wider world. “Mein Uncle,” which began performances this week, runs through June 8 in the East Village.

Eric Percival, as the Hitler figure, and Amanda Marikar as his niece Geli in “Mein Uncle.” Jenn Tufaro

Ayn Rand, With A Rock Beat

Her post-apocalyptic novella ‘Anthem’ gets a high-tech, sci-fi reworking.

05/27/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

If anyone believed in the power of freedom, it was Ayn Rand. In her best-selling novels, “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand, an atheist Jewish immigrant from Russia, articulated an ideology of individualism that still holds sway in American political and economic life, particularly among conservatives whose faith in the free market is absolute.

Randy Jones and Remy Zaken, in “Anthem.” Michael Blase

Precious Stones

A Holocaust-themed play, with diamonds.

05/22/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

Many Holocaust survivors have harrowing tales of persevering against the odds. But in few such stories does courage shine through in quite the same way as in Carrie Robbins’ multifaceted play, “The Diamond Eater,” about a jeweler who swallows his precious stones in order to retrieve them later for barter.  

A darkly funny Holocaust play is based on a true story. Fotolia

Immigrant Tales Hit The Streets

05/14/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

Inspired by immigrant-themed stories from The New York Times from a century ago, Ryan Gilliam and Michael Hickey’s new site-specific musical, “The News,” is running on street corners, parks, and other venues on the Lower East Side. As the audience members, who are wearing special MP3 players, move from one place to the next, the youthful 31-member company (ages 12 to 16) dances to pre-recorded music that only the audience can hear.

A scene from the site-specific immigrant-themed play “The News.”  Michael Hickey
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