Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for us
A CurtainUp Review
On Second Avenue
The English-Yiddish Musical Revue
By Elyse Sommer
--On Second Avenue, February 2005 review
The venerable Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, now in it's 90th season, has mounted this revival of the 1886 revue with great style. Though Mike Burstyn's name appears over the program's title, the amiable song and dance man's real star quality is most evident in the way he manages to be both leader and integral member of the diverse and talented ensemble which includes two other men and three women. All navigate effortlessly between skits songs and skits, solos and duets and full company numbers. Many of these skits could seem like tired old shtick if this gifted ensemble didn't put them across with such zest and obvious love of the material This is especially true of a series of jokes by Burstyn, which he puts across so that the punch line never fails to bring appreciative laughter. As for the voices, Robert Abelson's opera trained voice is a standout among standouts, and his peppy performance is an inspiration to all who think you have to slow down when you start collecting social security.
J. C. Oliver has created a delightful old-time vaudeville theater proscenium to frame several scene setting curtains and a screen for aptly projected still and animated images from the good old Second Avenue days. The scenic design and Kate Whitehead's on the mark costumes support the many characters the performers inhabit and the dozens of songs they sing to the accompaniment of the excellent seven member Folksbiene Klezmer band that's neatly positioned above the stage.
After the first act's love closing musical homage to the various shtetls from which Jews emigrated to New York, the back story of how of the Second Avenue theater scene and some of its start gets a more in-depth treatment. A stunning curtain with a montage of the Avenue abursti with marques includes the one remaining theater, the Orpheum, where Stomp has been playing for years -- quite a change from the vaudeville shows and dramas featuring such legendary names as Molly Picon and Maurice Schwartz (a film clip of "to be or not to be" in Yiddish is one of the show's archival high points).
Lorna Waynes's choreography adds to the fun. And director Bryna Wasserman directs at a pace that brings down the curtain before you can say Mazel Tov.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.