A STOOP ON ORCHARD STREET

Book, Music & Lyrics by JAY KHOLOS

Arranged & Orchestrated by TOM BERGER

 

 

 

www.astooponorchardstreet.net

Mazer Theatre, 197 E. Broadway, NYC

July 8, 2003 - November 14, 2004

 

Directed by LON GARY

Choreography by TOM BERGER and JASON SUMMERS

Scenic & Costume Design by JASON LEE COURSON

Lighting & Sound Design by SABRINA McGUIGAN

 

The Company

 

Edward Anthony - Lipschitz

Selby Brown - Shlomo/Alt. Lipschitz

Jeremy Chase - Guard/Alt. Cop

Lili Corn - Ensemble/Alt. Seama

Valerie David - Volunteer

Eleni Delopoulos - Ruth

Lon Gary - Old Man

Deborah Grausman - Seama

Joel Halsted - Cop/Guard

John Kirkwood - Simon

Matthew Laclair - Alt. Benny

Kristian Hunter Lazzaro Ensemble/Alt. Simon

Stuart Marshall - Shlomo

Sarah Matteucci - Sarah

David Mendell - Hiram

Jonathan Schneidman - Ensemble/Alt. Benny

Joseph Spiotta - Benny

Scott Steven - Sam

Antonia Garza Szilagi - Volunteer/Alt. Bubbie

Sharon Taylor - Ensemble/Alt. Mrs. Lipschitz

Anne Tonelson - The Bubbie

Marla Weiner - Ruth/Alt. Sarah

Stephanie Wilberding - Mrs. Lipschitz

 

Musicians

Tom Berger Jeffrey Campos Reuven Ben David

Christopher Lipton Nick McIntyre

Just within shouting distance of Orchard Street, Manhattan audiences can now attend a charming, nostalgic new musical called A STOOP ON ORCHARD STREET. A tale of Jewish immigrants trying to find their footing in 1910 New York after fleeing Russia, this piece, with dignity and respect, examines not only the characters it introduces, but also, and to a much more limited extent, the unique cultural phenomenon of the new immigrant.

The interesting premise is paired with musical numbers that range from witty to ditty, a solid yet simple story, and some good performers. A STOOP ON ORCHARD STREET stands on solid ground. Told in classic flashback style from the point of view of the Old Man (Lon Gary), who recounts his days as young Benny from the block (Joseph Spiotta), our gentlemanly narrator reminded me, ironically, of the Burl Ives snowman from one of those oft-run animated Christmas specials. I suppose that only attests to the warm and familiar way in which Mr. Gary, who directs the piece as well as performing in it, has approached this pivotal role. In a series of songs entitled "I Remember When" he introduces snippets of memory, only for the wheels of time to rewind, and for the flashbacks to begin.

Back when, Benny survives the poverty of the times, and the sudden loss of a parent, when his most unhappy father leaves the family in pursuit of the riches found in the land uptown. In response, Benny announces, in song, that he is now the man of the family, though he is still a young boy. He, along with his mother, sister and an uncle who pines for the love he left behind, persevere, perhaps growing stronger and wiser.

In the rich culture of Orchard Street, the ethnicity of the community is fodder for many of the lighter musical numbers, like the inspired "Lipschitz," a tune about not changing names at Ellis Island, and "The Bubbies," about the universality of the older, wiser and generally ignored grandmothers among us. In spite of the plot revolving around Jewish immigrants, there is a wonderful universality here. Most of us in NYC had relatives who just a generation or two ago faced the daunting specter of Ellis Island, and the struggle to integrate into a new world. The struggle, ultimately won, is mired in roadblocks along the way in A STOOP ON ORCHARD STREET, and these moments of trial are accompanied by appropriately moody music.

I enjoyed A STOOP ON ORCHARD STREET for being sentimental without being sappy. It is a nice little musical that could, someday, be discovered and invited into the magical world just uptown, and somewhere beyond the shadow of Orchard Street.

- Kessa De Santis -

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