PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 25-31: Soul Doctor Moves to Broadway, Revivals Abound and Neil Patrick Harris Hosts Another Awards Show

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31 May 2013

Eric Anderson in the Off-Broadway production of <i>Soul Doctor</i>.
Eric Anderson in the Off-Broadway production of Soul Doctor.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Broadway's seen a lot of shows, but perhaps nothing like Soul Doctor, the musical about the real-life unconventional Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, which will begin previews at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre July 17.

Never heard of Carlebach? Obviously, you haven't been to temple lately. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, who lived from 1925 to 1994 and was called "The Singing Rabbi," is considered by many to the foremost Jewish religious songwriter of the 20th century. Born into a family of rabbis, he escaped from Nazi Germany as a child and later formed an unlikely friendship with the legendary jazz singer Nina Simone, who introduced him to soul and gospel music. Very much involved in the '60s musical scene, Carlebach began his singing career in Greenwich Village, where he met figures like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. In 1966 he moved to Berkeley. (The Village was apparently not bohemian enough.) Because of his drive to reach out to people through more traditional song forms, he often alienated the Orthodox Jewish community during his career.

Conceived by Jeremy Chess, created by David Schechter and Daniel S. Wise, with direction by Wise, Soul Doctor has a book by Wise, lyrics by Schechter and music by Shlomo Carlebach.

Soul Doctor played a brief run Off-Broadway last summer as a guest attraction at New York Theatre Workshop. Prior to that, it played engagements in Florida and New Orleans. Eric Anderson, who starred in the Off-Broadway run, will repeat his work as Carlebach in the Broadway production.

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A sure sign of summer is the first performance of Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park's Delacorte Theater. On May 28, the Public Theater's production of The Comedy of Errors began its run.

The production of the comedy, among Shakespeare's simplest and most accessible (and—no coincidence—shortest!) plays, stars Hamish Linklater and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as twins Dromio and Antipholus. Daniel Sullivan, who might as well be crowned the Delacorte's director in residence, directs the 90-minute, intermissionless staging. (I said it was short.)

 

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