From the comedians of the Borscht Belt to the creators if 1987’s coming-of-age movie “Dirty Dancing,” the Catskills have inspired generations of Jewish performers and writers. Now, just two months after the shuttering of the last Jewish Catskills resort, Kutsher’s Country Club, comes a different take on the fabled vacation spot. Harvey Fierstein’s new play, “Casa Valentina” is about cross-dressing heterosexual men in the 1960s who establish their own discreet resort, to which they repair as an escape from their families and the pressures of middle-class respectability. But when the opportunity arises for the hotel to become an official organization, the men’s desire for privacy must be balanced against the potential for societal acceptance of alternative lifestyles. The Manhattan Theatre Club production opens April 23.
With all the controversy swirling around Woody Allen and allegations of child abuse, it may not be the best time to trumpet his accomplishments. But Allen enters a new stage of his career this season, with a new Broadway musical version of his 1994 film, “Bullets Over Broadway,” his valentine to the theater. Directed by Susan Stroman, the production, which opens on April 10, uses songs from the period rather than an original score. It stars Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) as David Shayne, the playwright who makes a deal with the mob in order to produce his play. Marin Mazzie (“Passion”) will play the aging actress who becomes Shayne’s love interest, and Nick Cordero (“Rock of Ages”) plays the gangster, Cheech, who helps him to rewrite the play.
The ‘biography’ of a work of synagogue art from 11th-century Cairo.
Special To The Jewish Week
Back in the 1990s, a medieval synagogue ark door from Cairo was sold at a Florida estate auction house. It dated back to the Fatimid period in the 11th century; how the ark made its way from Egypt to America remains unclear.
If he had done what he wanted, Jerome Felder would have become a professional athlete, but when the 6-year-old was struck down by polio, that career path was closed off. Not long after, he heard the mammoth voice of Big Joe Turner shaking his radio, and a new love was born. Felder became fascinated by blues and R&B music and, when he was 18, he managed to talk himself onto a stage where trumpeter Frankie Newton was leading the band, and suddenly, the short, pudgy Jewish kid on crutches was shouting the blues like a pro. Another door had opened and the result was the rebirth of that kid as Doc Pomus (so that his mother wouldn’t see his name on the marquees when he played clubs).
One of the most successful Jewish songwriters of all time, Burt Bacharach wrote no overtly Jewish tunes. But a new Off-Broadway show, “What’s it All About? Bacharach Reimagined,” will give New Yorkers the opportunity to assess the underlying Jewishness of Bacharach’s oeuvre. Featuring Kyle Riabko, who starred in “Spring Awakening” and “Hair” on Broadway, the show opens in December in the East Village.
Award-winning novelist Dara Horn has written a fourth novel of ideas, “A Guide for the Perplexed” (Norton, September), intertwining two stories set in different eras and playing off an important text with the same title written by Moses Maimonides, also known as the Rambam. One story, set in the past, relates to Solomon Schechter and his search for the Cairo genizah; the other involves a software designer who invents software called Genizah that categorizes and preserves the past, creating a personal archive of memory.
The upcoming Jewish Museum show “Chagall: Love, War, and Exile” is the first American exhibition to explore the iconic artist’s output during the turbulent 1930s and ’40s. It will feature 30 paintings (including crucifixions) and 24 works on paper in addition to other types of ephemera such as letters, poems and photos. “Chagall: Love, War, and Exile,” opens Sept. 15 and runs through Feb. 2, 2014 at The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (at 92nd Street).