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14 posts from January 2009

January 12, 2009

Jewish guys, three perspectives

Jake104_300dpi_2 Three shows featuring Jewish men (well, two men and a boy) hit South Florida stages this week, each exploring the richness and rituals of Jewish life.

Rocker-actor Jake Ehrenreich begins a three-venue tour of his autobiographical show, A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, Jan. 17-Feb. 1 at Miami's Dave & Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, 11155 SW 112th Ave. (the show then moves to the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Dr., Feb. 4-15, and finally to West Palm Beach's Cuillo Centre for the Arts, 201 Clematis St., Feb. 19-April 5). 

Ehrenreich and four musicians detail his life as the once-rebellious son of Holocaust survivors, a multifaceted entertainer who finally came to embrace his roots and heritage.  Alper performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday (no late show Feb. 1).  Tickets are $40 and $45.  For information, call 1-888-875-2955 or visit Ehrenreich's web site.

Avipressshot Also revisiting his life, career and myriad Jewish traditions is Avi Hoffman, who follows his popular shows Too Jewish? and Too Jewish, Too! with the new show Still Jewish After All These Years! A Life in the Theatre.  Replacing a planned production of the large-scale Broadway hit The Producers for economic reasons, Hoffman's show recounts his experiences with such fellow actors as Theodore Bikel, Jack Carter and Bruce Adler, as he serves up the songs and comedy that made his first two shows hits.

Still Jewish, a New Vista Theatre production, runs Jan. 15-Feb. 8 at the West Boca Performing Arts Center, 12811 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $22-$30.  Call 1-888-284-4633 or visit the New Vista web site.

Email_the_boychicks_2 And finally, for anyone who dug Grandma Sylvia's Funeral or enjoyed the familial dysfunction of Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, interactive theater takes on the Bar Mitzvah in The Boychick Affair by Amy Lord, one of the Grandma Sylvia's Funeral creators.  Francine Birns is the proud mom, Marty Foyer the dad, and Doug Smith the Bar Mitzvah boy himself, Harry Boychick.  The ceremony and reception happen Jan. 17-March 8 at the Club at Emerald Hills, 4100 N. Hills Dr., Hollywood. Gather at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday.  The $44 admission price includes a buffet meal (just $36 per person if you go with a group.

For tickets, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit the show's -- or should that be the Bar Mitzvah's? -- web site.

January 09, 2009

Noonan answers Mosaic's call

Polly_noonan_2Plantation's Mosaic Theatre is producing Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone as the third show of its current season, and the company has reached outside of South Florida for its star.  Normally, this is the kind of casting decision that creates turbulence in the region's acting pool (from which Mosaic customarily draws).  But this choice by director Richard Jay Simon makes sense:  Polly Noonan created the role of Jean in the world premiere production at Washington D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre in June 2007.

In fact, Ruhl told the Orange County Register's Paul Hodgins that she began thinking of Noonan in the role as she was writing the play:  "Polly...is a special case because I've worked with her about seven or eight times now, and have known her for over a decade...as I was about a third of the way in, I thought: "Ah! This is a role for Polly!' And I started hearing her voice in it as I finished the play."

So Noonan played Jean -- a young woman who answers a deceased patron's ringing cell phone in a cafe -- at Woolly Mammoth (earning a Helen Hayes Award nomination for her performance), then at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. (Mary-Louise Parker did the role Off-Broadway.)  Noonan and the Mosaic cast will bring Dead Man's Cell Phone to life Feb. 26-March 22.  For information, call 954-577-8243 or visit Mosaic's web site.

January 06, 2009

Rising Action makes Phelps' calendar

Tolerance and the name Fred Phelps are rarely used in the same sentence.  The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas -- a tiny congregation whose members are mostly related to Phelps by blood or marriage -- will turn 80 in November, and he has spent the bulk of his golden years (and the years leading up to them) spewing what he believes to be Biblically-justified hate.  He and his followers picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man whose murder was detailed in Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project. Gay men are apparently No. 1 on Phelps' enemies list.

Fabulous_1 So it is hardly surprising (except perhaps for the relatively small size and short history of the company) that Oakland Park's Rising Action Theatre has become one of Phelps' targets with its current production of Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.  The play offers a gay take on Old Testament stories, beginning with the creation of two first couples -- Adam and Steve, Jane and Mabel.  Of course, those most likely to be offended by Rudnick's revisionism wouldn't dream of going to see it.  Phelps and his followers, however, see yet another opportunity to spread the anti-gay word.

The reverend and his followers plan to picket the Jan. 16 Most Fabulous Story performance beginning at 7:15 p.m.  The theater is at 840 E. Oakland Park Blvd., and artistic director David Goldyn says commisioner Larry Gierer and several ministers plan to be there in support of artistic and religious tolerance.  Check the theater's web site for more information on what is sure to be a contentious, ugly curtain-raiser.

January 05, 2009

Music permeates a pair of Jewish-themed works

Those_were_the_days_2 Two shows -- one a musical by Montreal's Yiddish Theatre, the other an original music-theater work by the New York-based Nine Circle Chamber Theatre -- arrive in South Florida this week for brief runs.

Those Were the Days by Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld runs Tuesday through Sunday in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  The nine cast members (including Karen Karpman, Aron Gonshor and Michelle Heisler, shown in the photo) perform song-and-dance numbers that take the audience on a journey from turn-of-the-century Europe to New York in the 1930s.  Performed in a mixture of English and Yiddish (projected translations are shown during Yiddish portions of the show), Those Were the Days has performances at 3 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and Saturday.  Tickets are $34.50.  Call the box office at 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center web site.

High_res_falling_bodies_header

The music-theater piece Falling Bodies: When Galileo Met Primo Levi has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it performance at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday only at the Jewish Museum of Florida, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Written by Jonathan Levi with music by Bruce Saylor, the Nine Circles Chamber Theatre production imagines a meeting between two persecuted Italian scientist-poets from different centuries:  Galileo Galilei and Primo Levi, the latter sent to Auschwitz during World War II.  Tickets are $20, and they include admission to the museum's exhibitions.  For information, call 305-672-5044, ext. 3175, or visit the Jewish Museum web site.