Theater

Magic As Social Currency

A pudgy Jewish kid looks for attention in the musical ‘Gary Goldfarb, Master Escapist.’

07/09/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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With its aura of invulnerability and air of showmanship, magic has been a powerful draw for Jewish performers. Indeed, from Harry Houdini to David Copperfield, Jews have been over-represented as conjurers and illusionists. Now comes “Gary Goldfarb, Master Escapist,” a new musical by Omri Schein (book and lyrics) and James Olmstead (music) about a suburban Jewish boy who dabbles in magic in order to boost his social standing. It opens) next week at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), which is now in its 10th year.

The cast of Omri Schein’s “Gary Goldfarb, Master Escapist." Photo courtesy NY Musical Theatre Festival

Prohibition, The Jews And Kiddush

Kosher wine plays a role in a play at the New York Musical Theater Festival, ‘The Bootlegger and the Rabbi’s Daughter.’

07/05/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Prohibition reshaped the social ecology of New York, causing immigrants from different lands to make common cause in the interest of continuing to drink. Despite their reputation for sobriety, Jews often enjoyed special access to alcohol because of an exemption in the law for sacramental wine.

Tajlei Levis' new play is about a dutiful daughter who encounters a breath of fresh air in the form of a bootlegger.

Ethel Rosenberg As Joan Of Arc

06/25/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Whether she was a dastardly spy who betrayed her country, or an innocent victim crushed by rabidly anti-Communist government officials, Ethel Rosenberg certainly had a histrionic flair. In Joan Beber’s play, “Ethel Sings: Espionage in High C,” the infamous Jewish wife and mother becomes a martyr of truly operatic proportions, along with her grandiose alter ego, Joan of Arc. The play opens this week in Soho.

Shelby Kocee as Ethel Rosenberg in Joan Beber’s “Ethel Sings: Espionage in High C.”

Shoah Memories At The Deli Counter

06/18/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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More than half a century after the end of the Third Reich, the Shoah still reverberates in the lives of the survivors’ grandchildren. In Dana Boll’s new play, “Bella’s Dream,” based on the refugee experiences of her paternal grandparents, memories of the Holocaust keep seeping and bleeding into the present.

Dana Boll’s “Bella’s Dream” deals with grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

The Architecture Of Memory

06/11/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Can a building do justice to the horror of the Holocaust? In Oren Safdie’s new play, “False Solution,” an egotistical German-Jewish architect (Sean Haberle) engages in a battle of wits with a sexy blonde intern (Christy McIntosh) over his plans for a new Holocaust memorial in Poland. As the two struggle to find common ground in their visions for the building, each is forced to come to grips with his or her connection to the Shoah. The play begins previews this week in the East Village.

Sean Haberle and Christy McIntosh star in Oren Safdie’s “False Solution” at LaMaMa.

Rescued By Patti LuPone

06/04/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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John Houseman once said that Patti LuPone exudes the “smell of the gallows,” but for one gay Jewish boy from Los Angeles, the star was nothing less than a lifeline. LuPone, famed for playing blistering, brutal Broadway divas, became an obsession for theater artist Ben Rimalower when the teen was struggling with his parents’ divorce, his father’s  traumatic coming out, and his own coming of age.

In “Patti Issues,” directed by Aaron Mark, Rimalower charts a rocky, bi-coastal, but ultimately exultant journey from LuPone fan to LuPone friend and collaborator.

In “Patti Issues,” Ben Rimalower explores family, sexuality and an obsession with singer Patti LuPone.

Gesher Theater Tackles Singer’s ‘Enemies’

05/28/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Shattered, soul-less husks, wandering in an alien landscape — such is the impression given by the Holocaust-eviscerated characters in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1966 Yiddish novel “Enemies, A Love Story.” Paul Mazursky made a film of it in 1990, starring Ron Silver, Anjelica Huston and Lena Olin.

Sasha Demidov and Efrat Ben-Tzur in “Enemies, A Love Story.” Gadi Dagon

Terezin Show Makes It To N.Y.

05/21/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

It was the show that wouldn’t die.

Karel Švenk’s “The Last Cyclist,” written and performed in the “model” concentration camp of Terezin, comes to the Upper West Side this weekend after a circuitous route to the New York stage.  The cabaret-style play, which is a farcical allegory of the genocide of the Jews, was banned by the Jewish Council in the camp, for fear of reprisals from the Nazis. Adapted by Naomi Patz, it has its New York premiere at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew after productions in St. Paul, Chicago, and other cities.

Naomi Patz adapted the wartime play, “The Last Cyclist,” which will be staged at the West End Theater.

Russian-Jewish Identity, Lost And Found

New theater troupe, a division of the Folksbiene, mounts second production digging into Russians’ complex background.

05/21/2013
Jewish Week Book Critic

The struggle to free Soviet Jews was one of the most successful protest movements in history, and it brought close to three-quarters of a million Jews to this country. But just a few decades later, studies show, many Soviet Jews feel alienated from both their Jewish and American identities.

Émigré community finds new voice in Lost and Found, Russian division of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, which premiered “Covers”

Do Germans Obsess About Jews?

05/14/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

Is anti-Semitism at the root of German national identity?

Tuvia Tenenbom’s “I Sleep in Hitler’s Room” looks at contemporary German views about Jews.
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