Folksbiene's Circusy Megile, in Yiddish and English, Will Star Tony Nominee Stephen Mo Hanan; Cast Announced
By Kenneth Jones
Stephen Mo Hanan, a 1983 Tony Award nominee as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, will star in the circus-inspired reinvention of The Megile of Itzik Manger, produced by the Drama Desk Award-winning National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene April 21-May 12.
The "eye-popping purimshpiel carnival musical" will play Off-Broadway's Baruch Performing Arts Center. Opening night is April 25. Motl Didner directs, with music direction by Zalmen Mlotek.
"Last seen on Broadway in a landmark production that starred the famous Burstein family," according to Folksbiene, "this daring new production, with sets and costumes by the circus innovator Jenny Romaine, playfully retells the Book of Esther story, using the iconic poetry of the beloved Yiddish poet Itzik Manger as its springboard."
The music is by Dov Seltzer, and the book and lyrics are by Shmuel Bunim, Haim Hefer, Itzik Manger and Dov Seltzer.
The cast of 13, which includes four on-stage klezmer musicians, will features Shane Baker, Jonathan Brody, Stacey Harris, Andrew Keltz, Rebecca Keren, Stav Meishar, Jeremy Rishe and Hannah D. Scott.
Here's how Folksbiene bills the work: "Stocked with music, magic, larger-than-life puppets and spine-tingling circus acts, The Megile of Itzik Manger masterfully mashes languages, periods, musical idioms and folk myths. The innovative post-modern staging, which is set simultaneously in Biblical Persia and inter-war Poland, spawns a masquerade world of enchantment set in a Jewish big-top. In this modern account of Esther — both sexy and politically charged — our heroine writes her way into history by marrying (and standing up to) a hedonistic monarch and using her beauty and popularity to foil an anti-Semitic plot."
In addition to Broadway appearances in Cats (Asparagus/Bustopher Jones/Growltiger – 1983 Tony nomination), Peter Pan (as Capt. Hook in 1990-91), Oliver! (Fagin standby in 1984) and The Pirates of Penzance (Samuel in 1981), Hanan — known earlier in his career as Stephen Hanan — appeared in Folksbiene's own Yiddish Pirates of Penzance.
The production team includes lighting designer Natalie Robin, choreographer Merete Muenter and production stage manager Alex Brouwer.
The Megile of Itzik Manger is presented in Yiddish and English, with English and Russian supertitles "strategically employed for verbal enjoyment."
For tickets, which are $55, visit the Baruch Performing Arts Center box office, or call (866) 811-4111, or visit nationalyiddishtheatre.org.
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