Press | News/FEatures


South Florida Sun - Sentinel - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Bill Hirschman Special Correspondent

Broward Metro Edition
Feb 28, 2008

There's that sound: joyful and mournful, foreign and familiar, idiosyncratic and universal. All at the same time.

Klezmer music has become so ingrained in the fabric of America that its wails and reels no longer jar a mainstream audience's ear. Exhibit one will be performed in Florida next week: George Gershwin's opening clarinet strains of Rhapsody in Blue don't sound exotic anymore, they sound American.

The 23-song musical revue The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer, opening March 4 at Parker Playhouse, argues that Gershwin developed his musical vocabulary from the same Jewish liturgical music and Yiddish popular tunes that gave birth to Klezmer.

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Acclaimed musical searches for George Gershwin's musical roots

Westside Gazette - Fort Lauderdale, FL
February 28 – March 5, 2008

Arguably there has never been a more influential American composer than George Gershwin, but he remains a controversial figure in the musical cultural wars. The man who wrote standards sung by Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Dorothy Dandridge, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn and Oleta Adams, also penned one of the most infamous blackface musical numbers in history: Swanee as performed by Al Jolson. In collaborating with DuBose Heyward to create the landmark opera Porgy and Bess, Gershwin insisted the show be cast with African American singers who were shut out from performing in the country's theaters and opera houses in 1935. The original work opened to tepid reviews and has withstood charges of racism through the years, while at the same time the opera's classic Summertime has proven its universality by becoming a hit in diverse cultures around the globe.

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Grove Playhouse's Mittelman - Two New Theater Companies
February 6, 2008


Arnold Mittelman's American Theater Festival and the National Jewish Theater debut with "The Soul of Gershwin, The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer"

With decades of theatrical achievement to his name -- more than 40 world or American premieres and more than three dozen productions mounted on Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, on national tours and in regional co-productions -- producer-director Arnold Mittelman is launching two not-for-profit companies devoted to creating larger audiences for exceptional work while fostering continued development of regional companies and presenting venues.

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A New Odd Couple?

The Miami Herald - "Drama Queen" Blog
Christine Dolen - Drama Critic

February 26, 2008

Back during Arnold Mittelman's 25-year run as producing artistic director of Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse, beloved Odd Couple and Quincy veteran Jack Klugman appeared in three productions there: in Arthur Miller's The Price, Tom Stoppard's Rough Crossing and Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys. In the latter two Klugman played opposite his longtime friend and Odd Couple co-star, the late great Tony Randall. (that's Jack and Tony seated at right, during Sunshine Boys rehearsals).

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By Phyllis Steinberg
Jewish Journal - Broward Central Edition

February 28, 2008

Arnold Mittelman, former artistic director of the Coconut Grove Playhouse for more than 20 years has an exciting new project in the wings.

It's called the National Jewish Theater and the first production of the new entity will be performed at the Parker Playhouse, March 4-0.

The show, “The Soul of Gershwin, the Musical Journey of an American Klezmer,” was performed six years ago at the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

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