News from Playbill.com – Theo Bikel Brings SHOLOM ALEICHEM Off-Broadway

Here’s the first in what certaintly will be a passel of features soon to come about our production of SHOLOL ALEICHEM: LAUGHTER THROUGH TEARS moving to New York in the fall.

Tony Nominee Bikel Will Bring Aleichem “to Life” in NYC This Fall
By Kenneth Jones
August 6, 2009

Two-time Tony Award nominee Theodore Bikel’s music-kissed new one-man show, Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, a biographical look at the Yiddish writer’s life, will get its New York City premiere Nov. 8-Dec. 13 at the Folksbiene Theater’s home at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

Aleichem’s stories introduced the world to Tevye the Milkman and inspired the landmark Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof. Bikel play ed Tevye more than 2,000 performances onstage. As playwright and star, Bikel will bring back to life one of literature’s most beloved authors and many of the characters he created. “He tells their stories… he sings their songs… he magically melds times long gone with matters that tug at our heartstrings even today,” according to Folksbiene. “Singing in English and Yiddish, Bikel captivates his audience with an enchanting trove of music from Eastern Europe played live onstage by world-renowned musical director Tamara Brooks and acclaimed accordionist Merima Kljuco.”
Laughter Through Tears played Washington, DC’s Theater J in late 2008, followed by an engagement in Florida.

To read more, click here.

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Catching Up – The Momentous Week That Was

Could there have been a better four day sweep than January 17-20, 2009? Not in our recent professional lifetime. What went right for America? Everything. And the same for Theater J and the playwriting career of one artistic director. Which just goes to prove: When it’s “all good,” yes, it’s really all good. Sold out final shows of SHOLOM ALEICHEM: LAUGHTER THROUGH TEARS at Theater J while we packed ’em in all weekend-long over at Studio Theatre with DAI. How wonderful to be sold out in both places! To be well-staffed, well-attended, well-appreciated. Washington was abuzz with concerts, torrents of tourists, and theater-going was alive and well at Theater J and in our kindred companies around town.

Today’s mention in Marc Fisher’s column in the Washington Post really says it all. President Obama and family have moved from the South Side of Chicago to a really great second home in a bustling town and coming to the theater would be a very cool thing for him to do. Everyone wants him. Every theater company’s going after him. But only one theater in town has a history of doing plays set on the South Side of Chicago and is running to keep up with the headlines–and get underneath them as well. We expect Rham and the gang for opening of THE ACCIDENT, no problem.

Speaking of celebrity sightings, here’s what my facebook profile status line read on late Tuesday night: “Ari is back from the Peace Ball at the Old Post Office, hosted by Harry Belafonte and Andy Shallal, with Joan Baez, Alice Walker, Holly Near, Michael Franti & more.” It was fab! Tons of dancing! And we were almost rolled over by the presidential motorcade. Enough said.

Finally, BORN GUILTY and THE WOLF IN PETER at Epic Theatre Ensemble in the studio space at Manhattan Theatre Club. In short: the most professionally rewarding day of readings in my life. Wonderful cast. Great talk-back. A thrill to have so many great people in both crowds (over 90 at each reading). Naturally, I’ve run out of time to talk in detail about all that matters most personally — kinda crazy the way this happens (!) — late for a meeting — but there will be time to catch up all the more. Have a following up phone meeting with the folks at Epic later today. More to recount, to report, to reflect on and look forward to next steps. Until then, the next great work continues, for all of us…

Believe It Or Not (2008) – It Was a Very Good Year (Our Best)

If we had time today to reflect instead of crazy prep for two shows tonight — the 7:30 sold out performance of SHOLOM ALEICHEM: LAUGHTER THROUGH TEARS (our 12th sold out show out of 13 performances thus far), followed by the 10 PM New Years Eve concert of Serendipity 4 (Theo Bikel’s quartet comprised of the equally estimable Tamara Brooks, Merima Kljuco, and Shura Lipovsky) –we’d be perusing through this year’s blog entries–not to mention box office night end reports–to recount Theater J’s most popular and financially successful season ever. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? In the midst of this economic turmoil and all our nation’s–not to mention Jewish community’s–financial instability, Theater J offerings were never more boisterously attended, nor more remunerative. Dare we review?

SHLEMIEL THE FIRST: A musical derided by Mr. Marks as “Jewish Hee-Haw” eclipsed projections, built an enthusiastic following, divided our regulars, and made us smile every single night as audiences lingered for the klezmir jam session between the fabulous trio of top-flight musicians.

JUDY GOLD in 25 QUESTIONS… Swore like a sailor. At all of us in the office. All the time. And occasionally on stage. And we loved her all the same. And she brought box office gold too. And tons of mothers and daughters and grand daughters. She’s got a new show that just opened in Boston. She says I’m an anti-Semite if I don’t book her tomorrow. I might have too.

THE PRICE: The Proskys broke all box office records during their historic run–until Sandra Bernhard broke those (in her differently historic run). Until Bikel smashed hers. It’s been that kind of season. But Bob Prosky was irreplaceable. And his performance as Solomon, unforgettable.

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