The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Rothschild & Sons

This Unorthodox Feeling
Has Slowly Come Stealing Over All Of Us:
All Sons
We Want Everything, Everything,
Just Like Other Men Do!

— From the show's rousing anthem, "Everything."
Glory Crampton and Robert Cuccioli
Bravo to the York Theatre Company for giving new life Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's 1970 musical about the Rothschild financial dynasty. Director Jeffrey B. Moss has staged The Rothschilds, now renamed Rothschild & Sons, with lyricist Harnick and librettist Yellen on board to re-imagine the musical inspired by Frederic Morton's biography of the House of Rothschild.

Since the York is the Big Apple's only theater that presents only musicals, this new-old version had to fit the less is more principle behind all the York's shows. That "less" means a cast of eleven instead of forty, an orchestra of just four musicians (the actors doubling up on roles and the musicians playing several instruments) and the late 18th Century setting evoked without lavish stagecraft.

Of course, the pleasures of an intimate production and a cast with the acting chops and voices to bring it off can go just so far to compensate for the grander presentation found in a large Broadway house. A really sturdy dramatic story and score are crucial. And when it comes to a new approach to telling that story, questions arise as to whether this is really an enhancement.

So here's a bottom line answer: It's impossible to take Bock and Harnick's seventh collaboration out of the shadow of Fiddler on the Roof. However, Rothschild & Sons does indeed offer a refreshing new look at this show's best features: its many sparkling period flavored songs with their narrative pushing lyrics, and the smart compression of that narrative.

The new title explains the differences. The advantage that Fiddler. . . will always have over The Rothschilds is that the theme of changing traditions came about through the marriages of the milkman's five endearing daughters, Teyve's folksy charm, and the drama of forced exile. It's an irresistibly moving tragi-romance. The Rothschildd, on the other hand, is a fact-based story about the sons of a coin dealer who leave their Frankfurt, Germany ghetto to achieve extraordinary power.

The creative team behind the show realized that the Rothschild story, was inspiring but short on the emotional oomph of the Fiddler story. So they worked a romance into the second act for one of the sons along with a couple of love songs. But it always felt sandwiched in. The big splashy production values did keep keep the show open for over 500 performances, but it never had a spectacularly successful after life becasue

That brings us to the current production which ditches the original subplot and shifts focus to the father's relationship with his sons, turning it into what Harnick and Yellen now describe as a father and son love story.

Well, I wouldn't quite call it a love story. But the shift in emphasis as well as the scaled-down staging work well with tightly focused intermissionless format. The arrival of each new son is amusingly announced by the increasingly exhausted mother and brings Mayer closer to the kingdom he sings about ( I Can Go Just So Far/ But With Sons. . ./ sons Extend A Man's Vision/Sons Extend A Man's Reach/ Sons Expand A Man's Kingdom). The father and son love affair is not without its ups and downs — rebellions about breaking free from the constraints of the ghetto, disagreements about whether Nathan, the son who becomes the family's London emissary, puts too much trust in the aristocrats he's learned to deal with.

The show still lacks the typical musical's de-rigueur romantic component. But Robert CucciBuoli, who played young Nathan Rothschild in a 1990 revival at the now defunct American Jewish Theater, brings his operatic voice and plenty of emotional heat to the role of the pater familias. He commands the stage, whether with his sons and other ensemble members or alone, as with "He Tossed a Coin" and the heart-touching "In My Own Lifetime."

In the only other part that's not double cast, Glory Crampton as Gutele makes the most of the charming "One Room" and "Just a Map." Christopher M. Williams now plays the son whose risk-taking almost ruins and also saves the family's fortune and determination to close the Frankfurt ghetto. The father-son tensions are nicely rendered in their "He Never Listens" duet. Williams as well as the four other actors playing the first of the future dynasty deliver the goods in terms of singing; and all manage to fill other small parts. To add to the dramatic momentum of the family members' confrontations there's Mark Pinter to make a strong impression as both Prince William Herries and the duplicitous Prince Metternich.

The production relies mostly on Carrie Robbins' costumes to evoke time and place. There's also just a modicum of movement choreography by Denis Jones to evoke the elegance of Nathan's entry into the world of the British high life.

With the possible exception of the rousing "Everything." the songs, including several which were added, aren't breakout numbers like "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Tradition" However, the small orchestra with its piano/synthesizer, violin, cello and reeds (Jeff Klitz, Michele Irion Fox, Sean Katsuyama, Matt Lepek) has brought out the lilt and airiness of the music. And, happily, nothing is over amplified to drown out the well worth hearing lyrics (including some new ones).

As Fiddler. . . is about to enjoy yet another revival on Broadway, this modest new version remains a rarity courtesy of the invaluable York Theater Company. Maybe the people at PBS who choose the Off-Broadway shows to include in their wonderful Theater Close-ups series might use this unfussy Rothschild & Sons to embrace musical theater.

Rothschild & Sons
Music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, book by Sherman Yellen.
Directed by Jeffrey B. Moss
Cast: Robert Cuccioli (Mayer Rothschild), Peter Cormican (Town Crier, others), Glory Crampton (Gutele), Jonathan Hadley (Guard, Others), David Bryant Johnson (Jacob, Others), Christine LaDuca (Mrs. Kaufman, Others), Jamie LaVerdlere (Salomon, Others), Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper (Amshel, Others), Mark Pinter (Prince William, Herris, Prince Metternich), Curtis Wiley (Kalmann, Others), Christopher M. Williams (Nathan, Urchin)
Scenic Design: James Morgan
Costume Design: Carrie Robbins
Lighting Design: Kirk Bookman
Wig & Hair Design: Paul Huntley Productions
Stage Manager: Meg Friedman
Music supervision and orchestrations by Joseph Church
Music direction by Jeffrey Klitz
Choreography by Denis Jones
Running Time: Approx. 1 hour and 50 minutes, without an intermission York Theatre at St. Peter's Church (entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue)
Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m., Thur– Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
From 10/06/15; opening 10/18/15; closing 11/01/15 Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at October 15th press preview
Musical Numbers
  • Town Crier's Chant/Town Crier
  • Jew Do Your Duty/Urchins
  • One Room/ Gutele
  • He Tossed a Coin / Mayer
  • Pleasure and Privilege/Budurus
  • Sons/ Mayer, Gutele, YAmshel, Solomon, Nathan and Jacob
  • What's to be Done?/Mayer
  • Town Crier's CHant: Return to Your Home/Town Crier
  • Everything/Gutele, Sons & Town Crier
  • Rothschild and Sons/ Mayer& Sons
  • The Sons Depart/Gutele & Mayer
  • Just a Map/Gutele
  • This Amazing London Town/Nathan & Banker-Brokers
  • Tea's Hot!/Sceptic, Banker-Brokers & Nathan
  • Nathan's Revenge/Sceptic, Banker-Brokers
  • He Never Listens/Mayer & Nathan
  • He Never Listens (Reprise)/Mayer & Nathan
  • Sons (Reprise) Mayer & Nathan
  • Stability/Prince Metternich
  • Mayer's Will /Mayer & Son
  • Town Crier's Chant: The Ghetto is Closed/Town Crier
  • Everything (Reprise)/Sons
  • In My Own Lifetime (Reprise)/All
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Rothschild & Sons
  • I disagree with the review of Rothschild & Sons
  • The review made me eager to see Rothschild & Sons
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2015, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from