Arts Preview

Cross-Dressers In The Catskills:

Harvey Fierstein’s ‘Casa Valentina.’

02/19/2014

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.

Harvey Fierstein creates an alternative resort in the mountains. Carol Rosegg

‘Bullets Over Broadway’ Hits Broadway:

Staging Woody Allen’s film at precarious time.

Special To The Jewish Week
02/19/2014

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 cast of the new musical “Bullets Over Broadway,” directed by Susan Stroman. Jason Bell

Spring Arts Preview February 2014

The new season in theater, film, music, the visual arts and books.

02/18/2014
Spring Arts Preview February 2014

Chagall’s Jesus: The great Jewish artist’s controversial Crucifixion years.

Special To The Jewish Week
09/11/2013

When most people think of modern painter Marc Chagall, they likely think of lovers flying through the sky and folkloric village scenes; scenes of suffering do not often come to mind.

Marc Chagall's "Persecution." Collection Herta and Paul Amir, Beverly Hills, Calif. © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS)

The Arc Of A Rare Ark Door

The ‘biography’ of a work of synagogue art from 11th-century Cairo.

Special To The Jewish Week
09/11/2013

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.

A detail from the elaborately decorated Ben Ezra Synagogue door. Photo courtesy YU Museum

Reb Nachman, With A Backbeat

‘Happy Hour,’ courtesy of the Breslov Bar Band.

Special To The Jewish Week
09/11/2013

Binyomin Ginzberg comes by his love of nigunim, the wordless, prayerful songs that are a hallmark of chasidic music, almost genetically.

The Breslov Bar Band brings a funk backbeat and jazz drive to the songs of the Breslover chasidim.

Shouting The Blues: A pudgy Jewish kid reborn as Doc Pomus

Special To The Jewish Week
09/11/2013

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).

Doc Pomus in front of his tour bus, top.

I Say A Little Prayer: Kyle Riabko reimagines Burt Bacharach

Special To The Jewish Week
09/11/2013

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.

Kyle Riabko

Book

Jewish Week Book Critic
09/11/2013

Fiction

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.

Museum/ Galleries List

09/11/2013

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).

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