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Jerry Bock

The Apple Tree

October 10, 2017

Part of the problem is the lack of innovation in Ray Roderick’s staging in this show which calls out for invention and clever handling of sets and props. Devin Vogel’s colorless stage design (making use mainly of a ladder in the first and third stories) and Hope Salvan’s equally colorless costumes for most of the show (pale grey and blue tee-shirts and jeans for the first one-act) do not help bring any atmosphere to the three separate stories which span the time scheme from Biblical days up to the present. All three stories are narrated or introduced by The Balladeer who also plays the Snake in the first story. While such songs as the catchy “Forbidden Fruit,” the lovely “What Makes Me Love Him?,” the sultry “I’ve Got What You Want,” and the folk-rock ballad, “You Are Not Real” still impress, the musical staging is lacking in showmanship and pizzazz. [more]

She Loves Me

March 29, 2016

Scott Ellis’ direction avoids caricature, even in the most broadly drawn characters like the man-hungry Ilona, the gigolo Steven and the scared, but pragmatic clerk Sipos. He make the one touch of melodrama, involving Maraczek’s marriage, seem human and a touch tragic, helped by Mr. Jennings subtle, but exuberant performance. He also draws a tender performance from Ms. Benanti who gets to use the more operatic part of her marvelous voice. [more]

Fiddler on the Roof

February 10, 2016

Do not expect an exact reproduction of the original which after four revivals is probably to the good. With the consent of lyricist Sheldon Harnick, the only surviving creator, Sher has added a prologue and an epilogue that is new. When the curtain goes up, Burstein dressed in a contemporary parka is standing near an abandoned railway station in Anatevka reading from a book (the original Sholom Aleichem stories? a guide book?) and then he removes his coat revealing that he is in Tevye’s costume and joins the opening scene back in 1905. At the end of the musical, Burstein again in the contemporary parka joins the line of refugees leaving the town on their way to the border and picks up Tevye’s cart. The modern relevance to the current situation in Europe and in the Middle East is made patently clear. [more]

Rothschild & Sons

October 31, 2015

The surviving original creators, book writer Sherman Yellen and lyricist Sheldon Harnick, have written a new streamlined version of the show now called Rothschild & Sons which is being given its world premiere by the York Theatre Company. With a cast of eleven (most playing multiple roles) led by Cuccioli now playing patriarch Meyer and an orchestra of three, the show is a powerful study of anti-Semitism in Europe at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century and the desire of the Rothschild family to break down both the walls of poverty and those of prejudice. While the new adaptation performed in one act is both engrossing and admirable, it may not be the definitive final version as it is devoid of humor, a necessary ingredient to make a musical popular. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “To Life! Celebrating 50 years of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ with Sheldon Harnick”

June 1, 2015

“Is there anything left to discuss? There IS!” exclaimed Rob Fisher, artistic director of the 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series about "Fiddler on the Roof," in his introductory remarks to the concert “To Life! Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Fiddler on the Roof” with Sheldon Harnick.” A violinist and Klezmer clarinetist, who played tunes from that show, then joined him briefly before they settled in on stage with the other band members. The format of the presentation was to commemorate this milestone anniversary of that classic Broadway musical in a unique fashion. “Those expecting to hear the entire score of 'Fiddler on the Roof' will be very disappointed,” explained "Fiddler on the Roof"’s 91 year-old lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and the concert’s affable host. “These songs are twenty outtakes that were not heard in the final version.” [more]

BROADWAY’S 2006 Fall/Winter Season

January 27, 2007

The White Way barely had time to recover from last season’s exciting Tony race when Martin Short roused the sleeping giant with his manic ode to himself, Fame Becomes Me. [more]

The Apple Tree

November 28, 2006

The best moment finds Chenoweth putting a torrid spin on "I've Got What You Want," and yet not quite able to master the cracking of a whip. It's pure silliness. In Passionella …, Chenoweth plays Ella, a lonely sooty chimney sweep, who is magically transformed by her fairy godfather (Kudisch, who also serves as the story' s narrator), into a blonde sex pot of a movie star. She is destined to find true love, however, with a rock singer (James). Chenoweth's talent for breaking through the sound barrier with her high notes is the highlight of this skit. Fans of Chenoweth will be delighted; others will find the triptych trying. [more]