Thursday, May 22, 2014
One of the delightful features of Jerusalem is its emergence as a showcase for American and British musical theatre.
Yes, you heard right. Full stage productions of the most popular shows from New York's Broadway and London's West End are being produced in English with Hebrew supertitles a few times a year, mostly by the Encore! Educational Theatre Company.
This week the familiar sounds of Food, Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, Where is Love?, I'd Do Anything, As Long as He Needs Me, It's a Fine Life, and many other songs are resounding in the modern Hirsch Theatre in Beit Shmuel, just behind the King David Hotel in downtown Jerusalem.
Even though Charles Dickens, author of Oliver Twist, the book on which the musical is based, was rumored to be anti-semitic because of his description of the Fagin character, he later apologized to the London Jewish community and changed parts of the book when it was republished in a newer edition. The musical version was the work of British Jewish lyricist and composer Lionel Bart, who made Fagin into a lovable rogue.
The Encore! troupe, under the artistic and musical direction of Robert Binder and Paul Salter, and established in Jerusalem in 2006, presents the classics of the musical stage as well as lesser-known and original works, in order to expose audiences to this repertoire and, in particular, encourage young people to be the theatre-going public of the future.
Encore! has produced full stage productions of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas including The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and Trial by Jury. In the last two years, they have performed My Fair Lady, A Chorus Line, Oklahoma, Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, The Secret Garden, and Hairspray.
The casts include children and adults with and without acting experience who come out for auditions and rehearse for months until the curtain comes up on opening night.
For Oliver!, opening night was this Tuesday. Seven more performances remain -- two today and five more next week. (Full disclosure: we're taking special pride and shepping nachas from our 8-year-old grandson Gil who is playing the leading role of Oliver for the three matinee performances today, next Thursday, and next Sunday.)
For a taste of Oliver!, here's a video clip of last week's dress rehearsal. Enjoy!
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)