The main character in the play “The Bells of West 87th” undergoes what could be considered a coming-of-age crisis, albeit much later in life than is usual. Mollie Fein (Cameron Meyer) is awkward, unmarried, unfashionable, approaching 40 and trapped in the midst of her hilariously dysfunctional Jewish family.
Events around Los Angeles
Anybody who has trod the boards knows that little blitz of stage fright that can flood through an actor when a member of the family is in the audience.
The contentious, often hilarious, collaboration between legendary screenwriter-director Billy Wilder and mystery novelist Raymond Chandler is the subject of a new play, “Billy & Ray,” opening April 5 at Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre in Burbank.
Divorce can be a devastating experience, but one can get through it, survive and even thrive, according to Amy Botwinick, co-author of “Divorce Party: The Musical,” currently running at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood.
Set in 1930s Algiers, this animated adaptation of the beloved series by French comic-book artist Joann Sfar tells the story of a widowed rabbi, his beautiful daughter and a cat that swallows the family parrot and gains the ability to speak.
Barbara Heller likes to refer to herself as a “growing Jew.” The actress/singer has created a biographical show, “Finding Barb,” that traces her life from her dysfunctional family in Boca Raton, Fla., through her disappointing pursuit of an acting career in New York, to her indoctrination into Orthodox Judaism and, finally, to her present state of trying to balance her commitment to an observant life with her professional ambitions.
When Zubin Mehta takes the stage at the Disney Concert Hall on Oct. 30 to conduct the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), most in the audience will know that they’re hearing a world-class orchestra. Very few will realize, however, that the IPO’s founding was integral to the origins of the modern Jewish state. That beginning not only inaugurated the arts in Israel, but it was coupled with the saving of untold numbers of Jews from the Holocaust. Now that story is being told on the big screen in director Josh Aronson’s “Orchestra of Exiles,” in first-run screenings at selected Laemmle theaters beginning Nov. 2.
IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous and Rabbi Ronit Tsadok, American Jewish University’s Rabbi Aryeh Cohen and leaders of social justice organization Bend the Arc discuss the November ballot initiatives through a Jewish lens, addressing what Jewish tradition says about the death penalty, criminal justice and income equality.
Early in Theresa Rebeck’s comic play, “Seminar,” four aspiring writers cower in an Upper West Side New York apartment as Leonard (Jeff Goldblum), their imperious creative writing teacher, scans just one page of a short story before lambasting its author.
When Aaron Henne decided to form a new Jewish theater company, he knew he needed to push boundaries and make bold statements to challenge the traditional image of what constitutes Jewish theater. So now, with its first major production, Henne’s aptly named Theatre Dybbuk is attempting just that, with “Cave … A Dance for Lilith,” a collaborative, imaginative piece conceived in partnership with the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company.
The Broadway debut of “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone satirizes organized religion in lewd, crude — and musical — fashion. The story of two mismatched Mormon missionaries who are sent to Africa to proselytize pagans was deemed “best musical of this century” by The New York Times, won nine Tony Awards last year — including Best Musical — and is playing at the Pantages for a limited run. Fri. Through Nov. 25. 8 p.m. $35-$175. Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (800) 982-2787. broadwayla.org.
The situation created by writer David Gow in his two-character play, "Cherry Docs," is virtually guaranteed to produce explosive drama. A skinhead facing trial for a racially motivated murder is being defended by a Jewish publicly appointed attorney. The cherry docs of the title refer to the steel-toed cherry-colored Doc Marten combat boots the youth wore when he repeatedly kicked his victim.
If you take Israel out of the equation, there’s little in the Jewish world that gets people as riled up as the idea of intermarriage.
As he researched the complex life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach for a new musical, playwright Daniel Wise found a surprisingly candid source.
For Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins, who founded Actors’ Gang and serves as its artistic director, presenting plays that are relevant to our time is paramount for the company. To that end, the Culver City-based theater’s current offering is the U.S. premiere of “Oy,” a tale set in 1995 of two German-Jewish sisters, Selma (Mary Eileen O’Donnell), age 89, and Jenny (Jeanette Horn), age 86, who have accepted an invitation to visit Osnabrück, the town in Hanover, Germany, where they were raised and which they left as Hitler was consolidating his power. Because the sisters are among the dwindling number of survivors with recollections of the Nazi era, the town’s mayor has invited them to come to bear witness to that history for the younger generation.
Actor Jesse Eisenberg has written a play revolving around the Holocaust.
William Peter Blatty was a Georgetown University student in August 1949 when he came across a front-page story in the Washington Post titled “Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip.” Blatty, a devout Catholic, was fascinated by the accounts of the 14-year-old’s bed violently shaking and torrents of curses in Latin whenever the exorcist commanded the demon to leave the boy.
There’s a vast difference between history and historical fiction. I tend to prefer the latter, finding myself in awe of writers who can carry readers into a world that’s both factual and imagined. Obviously, there’s the underlying question of trust: How do we know when and whether we can trust an author who presents a mélange in which fact and fiction aren’t easily teased apart? We don’t.
Pro-Palestinian activists protested against an Israeli theater company's production of "The Merchant of Venice" at the Globe Theater in London.
When the hit comedy “One Man, Two Guvnors” comes to Broadway this spring, I’ll be able to say I saw the London production. I also saw the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “Don Giovanni” with the Polish tenor Mariusz Kwiecien. As for bragging rights, it’s hard to match having seen David Hallberg’s debut with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow in “Sleeping Beauty.”All this, without ever leaving Los Angeles.
Hershey Felder is a prolific performer, writer and composer, but he is setting a new personal record with world premieres of two plays at different Los Angeles venues.
Somewhere in Creede, Colo., en route to a mountain cabin in Santa Fe, N.M., Mandy Patinkin is above 10,000 feet. “If I sound stupid, it’s because there’s no oxygen up here,” he says.
The notorious attorney Roy Cohn (Barry Pearl), onetime counsel for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, deals with his demons in Joan Beber’s surreal play, “Hunger: In Bed With Roy Cohn,” currently running at the Odyssey Theatre. Beber, who is having her first production in Los Angeles at age 78, places Cohn in a state of limbo, a purgatory of the mind, where he is nurtured by a sexy maid (Presciliana Esparolini) and haunted by significant figures from his past, including his mother, Dora (Cheryl David); hotel heir G. David Schine (Tom Galup); Ronald Reagan (David Sessions); Barbara Walters (Liza de Weerd), who remained a loyal friend because Cohn had once helped her father; and convicted spy Julius Rosenberg (Jon Levenson).
Rather than compose “Porgy and Bess,” what if George Gershwin had instead scored the opera “Dybbuk and Leah”?
About a dozen years ago, actor Mike Burstyn auditioned in New York for the role of Al Jolson in the national touring company of the musical “Jolson.” While waiting for a decision, he flew home to Los Angeles and on landing at LAX decided to stop by the nearby Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary and visit the grave of the legendary jazz singer.
At one point in “Bring It On: The Musical,” inspired by the rival cheerleading film of the same name, Bridget, the team’s chubby mascot, gets some moxie from a pep talk about a boy she likes.
A Chinese Hitler, dressed like a mall cop, mopes in an underground bunker in 1945 as his empire is collapsing around him. But it’s not all bad news. “My stomach hurts, and it’s bigger. I’m pregnant!” Hitler exclaims, stroking himself mindlessly.
A 35-year-old Jewish theater in San Francisco will close this year at the end of its new season.
When Canter’s Deli first opened in Los Angeles, it was not at its now-famous location on Fairfax Avenue, but in Boyle Heights. And though Canter’s and most of the neighborhood’s Jews have long since deserted Boyle Heights, it was forever touched by the culture of the Jewish community that once called it home. Later waves of immigration brought Japanese, Latino and Russian immigrants to the area, giving Boyle Heights a unique and vibrant ethnic vibe.
Let me say right away that I am an ardent and devoted fan of David Mamet. I have only a very small collection of movies on DVD, but two of them are “The Spanish Prisoner” and “House of Games,” both of which I’ve watched repeatedly. My wife, Ann, and I were in the audience for Mamet’s production of “Boston Marriage” at the Geffen and again when he produced a magic-and-memoir show featuring Ricky Jay.
Murray Schisgal’s comedy “LUV” is, as the alert reader might suspect, about love, even passionate love, but don’t expect any moon in June or till death do us part nonsense. Actually, “LUV” works best as an anti-love play, and, after seeing it, any starry-eyed boy or girl might opt for a celibate life of devotion, if only their parents would let them.
It may seem a sign of overconfidence for someone to tell you he’s rewriting a major work by Beethoven, but for David Lang, who reconceived Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” for his Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy Award-winning 2008 opera, “The Little Match Girl Passion,” it’s just business as usual.
“How long must I roam, to find my way home …”
USC freshman Shayna Turk, a 2010 graduate and former class president of New Community Jewish High School in West Hills, didn’t expect a nice gesture with a simple purpose to turn into a mitzvah with the power to save and restore young lives. The musical theater summer camp she created seven years ago, Shayna Turk’s Academy of Rising Stars (S.T.A.R.S.), has evolved into a substantial philanthropic enterprise. Her selfless, charitable pursuit garnered her the title of Young Entrepreneur of The Year in June 2010 and a $10,000 college scholarship from the National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation and Visa.
“I hate lying,” Jon Lovitz, the comedian, actor and comedy club owner, said without a touch of humor in his voice. “I just can’t stand it. I don’t see the advantage of it. It makes me physically ill.” It’s the reason, he said, that he has become something of a specialist in portraying characters who are truth-challenged, or, in his words, “sleazy.” He was Tommy Flanagan, president of Pathological Liars Anonymous, on “Saturday Night Live”; the guy on “Seinfeld” who fibs about having cancer, then dies in a car crash; a loudmouth baseball scout who steals scenes from Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own”; the voice of an obnoxious movie reviewer in the animated series “The Critic”; and the father, in the film “Rat Race,” who tells his family they are on a minivan “vacation” when he is actually trying to win $2 million in a cross-country dash.
At a recent dress rehearsal at Temple Beth Am for the Jewish Women’s Repertory Company’s (JWRC) November production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Margy Horowitz, the company’s founder, musical director and accompanist, played piano while the narrator belted out the famous opening line: “Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do, before their time on this planet is through.”
As a child, Emily first performed in the choir at her Reform temple in Roslyn, N.Y., where she sang at children's services and Jewish camp. She continued to perform in high school; but studying acting at New York University did not mesh well with her intuitive approach to theater, she said.
The play opens in the south Hebron hills in the West Bank with Tsahi, an off-duty Israel Defense Forces soldier, pointing his gun at Ismail, a Palestinian shepherd. Having just broken up with his settler girlfriend, Tsahi is lost and seeking a way back to the main road. Ismail, waiting for his girlfriend, is the only one who can help Tsahi find his way.
Always in the background lurks the threat of "Gentleman's Agreement," produced by Darryl Zanuck, the only non-Jewish studio chief, and starring Gregory Peck as a WASP who pretends to be a Jew.
The characters reveal their stories through a mixture of singing and dancing -- with some pantomime thrown in. Hamlisch said that from the beginning the creators felt that certain stories were best told through song, others through dance.
In 1909, an impoverished Jewish immigrant arrived in Hamilton, Texas, hawking 1-cent bananas from his pushcart.
Haskell Harelik had fled Russia to escape pogroms, docking not in Ellis Island but in Galveston, Texas, via a plan to route Eastern European Jews to the West. He spoke no English and was the first Jew the Hamilton residents had ever seen. But he found some friendly faces, and he stayed in that Baptist town, founding a dry goods store and raising three sons there.
We think of Albert Einstein, and we conjure up the image of a frail, unkempt and absent-minded old man, but a visit to the Einstein archives at Caltech provides quite another picture.
The man who radically transformed our understanding of the universe was adored by women, at 23 fathered an illegitimate child and after marriage had a few side flings with other women.