The Arts

A Flood Of Questions About Noah Story

12/17/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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From the medieval Shipwrights’ Guilds building boats for Bible plays to the Richard Rodgers musical, “Two By Two” (revived last Winter at the York Theatre), the story of Noah’s Ark has inspired dramatists throughout history. Now comes “At the Ark at Eight,” a multimedia black comedy about a pair of wily penguins that smuggle a third penguin on board the ark in a suitcase.

“At the Ark at Eight” is a modern look at the biblical story of Noah and the flood.

‘A Goyishe Christmas’

N.Y. Festival of Song program looks at relationship between Jewish composers and holiday classics.

12/11/2013
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I’m sitting on the downtown A train, diagonally across from a shortish guy in a Victorian-era top hat and long topcoat. He’s listening to an mp3 recorder, stopping, rewinding, repeating, singing along to a famous Jerry Herman tune from “Mame.” But the lyrics are a bit metamorphosed.

Irving Berlin, composer of "White Christmas." Getty Images

Does ‘Lies’ Stretch Folksbiene Too Thin?

Connection to Yiddish culture not seen as robust enough in new production.

12/10/2013
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A decade after winning an Oscar for his 1965 Holocaust masterpiece, “The Shop on Main Street,” the Hungarian Jewish director Jan Kadar filmed “Lies My Father Told Me,” a nostalgic story about an 8-year-old boy and his grandfather in 1920s Montreal. Some called Kadar the “messiah” of the Canadian film industry, propelling it to international attention and raising its standards. Indeed, “Lies,” based originally on a story by Ted Allan, went on to win major Canadian film prizes and to become a classic in its own right.

The cast of “Lies My Father Told Me.” Michael Priest Photography

A Long, Strange Trip Toward Judaism

Joshua Safran’s coming-of-age memoir suggests a dark side to the ’60s-era vision of utopia.

12/10/2013
Culture Editor
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Joshua Safran was born into a world of communes, covens and radical politics, but was too young to understand what the revolution was all about. When he was 4, his single mother took off for places far less conventional, leaving the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco for the desert and hills. They lived in an old bus, a decommissioned ice-cream truck, a teepee and abandoned shacks with no running water, hitchhiking thousands of miles, ever in search of utopia.

Haight-Ashbury and beyond: Safran chronicles a life on the road with his single mother.

Teen Sex Drama: ‘Acts’ Of Desperation

Israeli entry into Tribeca film festival is well crafted but disturbing.

12/03/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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This year’s Tribeca Film Festival included three new films from Israel, a continuation of the nation’s seeming gold rush of quality filmmaking. One of those films, “S#x Acts,” has its theatrical debut in town Friday, Dec. 6. It is deeply troubling and more than little problematic.

Sivan Levy as Gili in “S#x Acts.”

Anna Sokolow, Steps Ahead

12/03/2013
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She put modern dance on a new footing by infusing it with dramatic expression and social consciousness. Now, Anna Sokolow, the revolutionary Jewish choreographer who inspired many of the leading actors and dancers of the 20th century, takes center stage again next week in two shows that commemorate her remarkable legacy. Highlights from her work will be performed in “Anna Sokolow Way,” and dancers who worked with her will recount their memories and demonstrate her techniques in “From the Horse’s Mouth.” The shows are being performed in repertory through this weekend at the 14th Street Y.

In "Anna Sokolow Way," dancers will perform highlights from the choreographer oeuvre.

Mambo, From Miami To The Mountains

New release from Idelsohn Society traces the roots of the Latin-Jewish musical story.

12/03/2013
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Although it flourished most brightly in the post-World War II era, the Jewish-Latin connection in American pop music probably goes back as far as the history of recordings will take us. Even the authors of the entertaining liner notes for “It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba: The Latin-Jewish Musical Story: 1940-1980s” admit that the origins of this musical marriage are shrouded in mystery. But as the two-CD set, issued this month by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, richly documents, it has been a fruitful, if occasionally dopey relationship. (As if none of us have been in one of those, right?)

Idelsohn’s new collection moves from Xavier Cugat to Machito to Eydie Gorme.

When What’s Private Becomes Public

Celebrities’ complicated Jewish identities dramatized in song in thought-provoking ‘Stars of David.’

12/03/2013
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In a 1947 speech to a group of Jewish artists and scientists in New York, Arthur Miller decried the practice among prominent Jews of facing “away from Jewish life when one has a story to tell.” Miller insisted, “We wrong ourselves and our own art, as well as our own people, by drawing a curtain upon them.” In Abigail Pogrebin’s best-selling book of interviews, “Stars of David,” now showing, in musicalized form, at the DR2 Theater, that curtain is drawn back to permit a rare glimpse into the Jewish lives of celebrities.

Aaron Serotsky, Alan Schmuckler, Donna Vivino and Janet Metz in “Stars of David.” Carol Rosegg

A Mash-up Of The Holidays

11/26/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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If there is a single lesson to be learned from both the story of the Chanukah oil and the tale of the birth of Jesus, it is that when all else fails, expect the unexpected. Little wonder, then, that winter holiday shows often take a zany, unpredictable approach to the mash-up of Chanukah and Christmas. Less Than Rent’s first annual holiday pageant, “How LTR Stole Christmas,” combines elf choirs, holiday sweater stripteases, and an unorthodox retelling of the Chanukah story in a broad satire of the holiday season. The show runs for three performances on Tuesday nights in December in the East Village.

Brandon Zelman’s “A Blue Christmas Without Jew” is part of Less Than Rent’s holiday offerings. Peter Konerko
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