This is Joe Vass’ follow-up to his popular The Soul of Gershwin . Words By focuses on George’s older brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin.
“Ira Gershwin could write glibly or wittily or movingly when called on,” said Vass. “But sung to his brother’s music, even Ira Gershwin’s most outwardly conversational song lyrics can hit with the impact of poetry.”
In addition to beloved songs that were brotherly collaborations of Ira’s lyrics and George’s music are wonderful songs that Ira wrote with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.
Well known local actor Ari Hoptman plays Ira Gershwin); and the musical cast includes Jennifer Grimm, as Chanteuse, and T. Mychael Rambo, as Crooner. Joe Vass also serves as musical director and lead a band comprised of esteemed local musicians: Christopher J. Bates, bass; Jay Epstein, drums; and Christopher Olson, guitar.
Here’s a trailer for the show:
Park Square is located at 20 W. 7th Place, downtown St. Paul. For tickets, call the box office at 651-291-7005.
Susan Stein will perform Etty, based on the writings of Etty Hillesum, on Dec. 8 at the JSB Tek Box in the Cowles Center for Dance
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
Over the past two weeks, Susan Stein has performed her one-woman play, Etty, for inmates at the Stillwater and Shakopee state prisons.
“The prison performances are very powerful,” she told the AJW.
Etty, an hourlong play, is drawn from the diaries and letters of Esther “Etty” Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who was rounded up during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and sent to the Westerbork transit camp. She died in Auschwitz on Nov. 30, 1943, according to the Red Cross. She was 29.
Susan Stein in her role as Etty Hillesum. (Photo: Ricardo Barros)
As part of the Rimon Salon Series, Stein will be featured in a program titled “Conversations with Etty,” which consists of excerpts from Etty, 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 at the JSB Tek Box at the Cowles Center for Dance in downtown Minneapolis.
A popular local hazzan, Mitchell Kowitz, has a new business that offers dinner and a show in your home
By DORIS RUBINSTEIN
If you bump into Cantor Mitchell Kowitz at the JCC these days and ask him, “What’s cookin’?” you might not get the answer you expect.
After almost three decades of being a congregational hazzan (cantor), the talented baritone is branching out to combine the three things he loves most, as he exclaims on his Web site: “Love to Cook. Love to Sing. Love Life!” He’s following his dream and takes inspiration from Theodor Herzl’s Zionist admonition: “If you will it, it is no dream.”
Cantor Mitch: This is my shtick. It’s been waiting for me to make it happen! (Photo: Courtesy of Cantor Mitchell Kowitz)
Like his tripartite mission statement, Kowitz’s enterprise has three parts, too.
• Private catering — For special entertaining, Kowitz brings a turnkey service to his clients’ homes. Not only does he provide the regular services of a professional caterer — everything from supplying the dishes (in this case, Rosenthal china), to cooking and serving, to clean-up — but the Kowitz touch includes entertainment tailored to a dinner theme or whatever the host requests.
• Kosher Cuisine, the book — A cookbook, which will be published early next year by Mighty Media, will convey a special blend of Kowitz spice. The cantor includes personal stories about his recipes, told in his own enthusiastic style. There are suggestions for menu accompaniments; but here’s where Kosher Cuisine for a New Generation distinguishes itself from the dozens of other cookbooks in the market: He provides a musicalaccompaniment. The cookbook will come with a password, so readers can go to a Web site (cantormitch.com), and download Kowitz singing festive songs recorded especially to complement the recipes. Keep reading →
Daniel Lincoln, a keyboards player in The Wizard of Oz orchestra, feels he’s ‘the luckiest kid in show business’
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
Daniel Lincoln, a Jewish actor and musician from Los Angeles, is in St. Paul with the first American national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz. He plays keyboards in the orchestra and also serves as the band tech, the technical supervisor of all the musical equipment used by the orchestra. “It’s a very high-tech pit,” he says.
During an interview with the AJW from Los Angeles, Lincoln mentions the moment that he was “bitten by the show business bug” as a child. It was a musical.
Daniel Lincoln: We could very well be changing children’s lives every night we go out there and perform. (Photo: Courtesy of the Ordway)
“It was another Andrew Lloyd Webber show,” Lincoln recalls. “It was Phantom of the Opera. I remember sitting in the audience, and the grandeur and the majesty of the music, and, of course, the stage magic that was happening, I realized, I want to do that. I want to be a part of that.”
So, Lincoln remarks that he has “come full circle,” and is part of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “because he was the one who made me fall in love with this art form to begin with.”
Guthrie Theater Associate Artistic Director John Miller-Stephany says working on a classic such as Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday is enjoyable.
“[Especially] when a play is so beautifully written such as this,” said Miller-Stephany. “It’s very much so a pleasure to work on.”
John Miller-Stephany. (Photo: Courtesy of Guthrie Theater)
The Guthrie’s production of Born Yesterday opened on Nov. 29 and will run on the McGuire Proscenium Stage through Jan. 5. Miller-Stephany, who is also the Guthrie’s casting director, is directing the production.
“[Guthrie Artistic Director] Joe Dowling picks the season,” said Miller-Stephany, who is directing his 15th production for the Guthrie, “I work closely with Joe and he listens to my thoughts. He lets me direct things that I am passionate about, and this is a great comedy.”
The Boxer’s Story, by Nathan Shapow with Bob Harris, Robson Press, 246 pages, $24.95
Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER
Nathan Shapow’s happy marriage may have been made in heaven, but wouldn’t have occurred without concentration-camp hell.
Postwar, Shapow was engaged to an Israeli, but when he asked, she said she couldn’t live with someone who woke up sweating and screaming.
Soon after, he married young survivor Hela. “We could understand each other’s nightmares,” he says.
The Boxer’s Story is Shapow’s memoir, with sportswriter Bob Harris, who was able to confirm some of Shapow’s improbable-sounding experiences. The too-brief but engaging book begins by revealing a secret he kept even from Hela: He killed an SS lieutenant in the Riga ghetto, the consequences of which have haunted his life.
Some U.S. elected officials, self-appointed representatives of the American Jewish community and the prime minister of Israel are giving the Obama administration a hard time over its role in an interim deal with Iran to halt that country’s development of a nuclear weapons capability, in exchange for easing up on economic sanctions.
You would think that folks would like the idea of diplomacy carrying the day, but no. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called last month’s interim deal with the P5+1 world powers and Iran a “historic mistake.” Other critics were quick to “go Hitler,” and brand the agreement tantamount to the 1938 British capitulation to the Third Reich at Munich.
As the AJW was going to press this week, JTA reported that the “historic pact” to freeze Iran’s nukes is not yet in force — “there’s the interim before the interim begins.”
“Little noticed in the wake of the historic pact reached last month by Iran and the major powers is the fact that technically, the deal is not yet underway,” writes JTA’s Ron Kampeas. “A commission of experts from the United States, Russia, Germany, Britain, China and France, working with Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, first must work out the technical details before the deal officially goes into effect. The commission is not scheduled to meet until January. And even then it’s not clear how long it might take to reach an agreement.”
Event commemorates 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht
The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) at the University of Minnesota will hold a panel discussion entitled“Antisemitism Then and Now” at 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 in the President´s Room, Coffman Memorial Union, University of Minnesota.
The panel is the capstone event in a month-long series of programming that CHGS and The Center for Austrian Studies (CAS) have promoted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The panel will discuss topics of new and historic antisemitism, and contemporary manifestations in Europe and the U.S.
Five scholars in the field of antisemitism studies will officiate as panelists: Philip Spencer, historian at Kingston (U.K.) Univesity; Chad Allen Goldberg, professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who is currently working on a book on Modernity and the Jews in Social Theory; Zsolt Nagy, political scientist at the University of St. Thomas; Gary Cohen, historian at the University of Minnesota, former director of the Center for Austrian Studies; and Bruno Chaouat, French Literature & Thought, University of Minnesota, who is currently analyzing debates concerning Jews in France.
The panel will be moderated by CHGS director Alejandro Baer and Stephen C. Feinstein chair of Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
The Andy Statman Trio is joined by two acclaimed country artists — Michael Cleveland on fiddle and Tim O’Brien on guitars, fiddle and vocals — for the new album, Superstring Theory (Shefa Records). Statman, who plays mandolin on most of the tracks, is joined by his outstanding rhythm section mates, […]