Stars of David, With Songs by William Finn, Tom Kitt, Sheldon Harnick and More, Gets NYC Workshop June 25-29
By Kenneth Jones
Stars of David, a new musical about Jewish identity, with a book by Charles Busch and songs by a collection of Broadway and Hollywood songwriters — from William Finn to Tom Kitt to Marvin Hamlisch to Marilyn and Alan Bergman — is tested June 25-29 in a Manhattan reading in anticipation of its fall world premiere by Philadelphia Theatre Company.
The private industry workshop cast includes Nadia Dajani (Off-Broadway's Sophistry and Boys and Girls), David Josefsberg (Broadway's The Wedding Singer, Off-Broadway's Rated P for Parenthood), Anne L. Nathan (the indelible Czech mother in Broadway's Once), Robert Petkoff (Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof and currently Anything Goes) and Donna Vivino (Wicked, Hairspray).
Gordon Greenberg (Band Geeks!, Working) directs, Josh Rhodes choreographs, and Vadim Feichtner is musical director. Sam Davis is arranger, orchestrator and musical supervisor.
Stars of David, which has a Tony Award-winning commercial producer attached to a possible New York future, is a musical stage adaptation by Aaron Harnick of Abigail Pogrebin's acclaimed book "Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk about Being Jewish."
Here's how PTC bills the work: "It is a snapshot of Jewish identity through the interviews with some of America's most recognizable public figures, including: Gloria Steinem, Leonard Nimoy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., Joan Rivers, Norman Lear and Wendy Wasserstein."
With a book by Busch (The Tale of the Allergist's Wife), "the interviews will be transformed into songs" by composers and lyricists including William Finn (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, Or Change), Richard Maltby & David Shire (Closer Than Ever), Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Marilyn & Alan Bergman ("Yentl"), Amanda Green (High Fidelity), Nathan Tysen & Chris Miller (The Burnt Part Boys), Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater (Spring Awakening), Susan Birkenhead (Jelly's Last Jam) and others.
Stars of David received a staged reading as part of PTC's two-week festival of new work, PTC@PLAY, which featured readings of new work from 13 writers and composers from around the country.
Sara Garonzik, PTC's producing artistic director, said in a statement, "The timing seems very right for Stars of David, which is reflective of the ongoing cultural conversation around faith and its role in contemporary life."
Stars of David joins the previously announced Seminar by Theresa Rebeck and The Mountaintop by Katori Hall in PTC's 2012-13 season. A fourth play will be announced shortly.
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