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Tuesday, 17 April 2012 11:12

National Jewish Theater Commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day with a Week of Events

NATIONAL JEWISH THEATER FOUNDATION/
HOLOCAUST THEATER ARCHIVE
COMMEMORATES

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY (APRIL 19, 2012)

WITH A WEEK OF EVENTS

APRIL 17 – 23

INCLUDES SPECIAL PERFORMANCES AND VIDEOTAPING OF

THE SOAP MYTH
INVITATION-ONLY READING OF MARK SALTZMAN’S NEW PLAY

ROCKET CITY, ALABAM’
SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH LEADING JEWISH SCHOLARS,
SURVIVORS, HISTORIANS & CAST OF THE SOAP MYTH

National Jewish Theater Foundation (Arnold Mittelman, President and Artistic Director) and the Holocaust Theater Archive will commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 19, 2012) with a week of events from April 17 – 23 in New York City.  The week will be the highlighted by ongoing performances of the National Jewish Theater’s production of the Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen. The start of this Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration will be an invitation-only reading of Rocket City, Alabam’, a new play by Mark Saltzman, on April 17 & 18; and a series of interviews with scholars, survivors, historians and the cast of The Soap Myth, coordinated by NJTF and the Holocaust Theater Archive will take place on April 23.  The Soap Myth runs through April 22 at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, 111 West 46th Street, between 6th Avenue and Broadway.

{module ad_left_body}Holocaust Remembrance Day, “Yom Hashoah” in Hebrew, marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.  The internationally recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar.  The day falls within the week of the Days of Remembrance, established by the U.S. Congress in 1980 as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.  The National Jewish Theater Foundation and Holocaust Theater Archive are commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day this year with the following events:

  • Directed by National Jewish Theater Artistic Director Arnold Mittelman, this acclaimed production of The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen, which began performances on March 23, stars Greg Mullavey (television’s “Mary Hartman Mary Hartman”) and features Andi Potamkin, Donald Corren, and Dee Pelletier.  The work explores the horrific rumors that the Nazis turned the fat of their Jewish victims into soap and one survivor’s pursuit of establishing it as fact through the advocacy of a young journalist.  Tickets range in price from $50 to $60 and can be purchased online at www.nationaljewishtheater.com or by calling (212) 352-3101.
  • On Wednesday and Thursday (April 17 and 18) an invitation-only reading of Mark Saltzman’s play Rocket City, Alabam’ will be presented.  This new work deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust in America through the story of the former Nazi scientist Wernher Von Braun being brought to Hunstville, Alabama by the American military to oversee the conversion of a rocket/missile program that was formerly used against the allies but now would be developed to benefit America’s defense against communist nuclear threat.  Arnold Mittelman will direct a company of nine actors in this play set in 1951 that also features songs from the American South that at that time was still highly segregated.  The play juxtaposes the need to integrate these former Nazi’s into Hunstville’s community including its Jewish citizens while the South still failed to provide equality to its African American people.
  • On Thursday (April 19, Holocaust Remembrance Day) The National Jewish Theater Foundation/National Jewish Theater’s inaugural production of The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen, directed by Arnold Mittelman, will be recorded and made into a permanent record to be distributed to Holocaust museums, educational institutions and memorials around the world This distribution will be made internationally with the help of the Association of Holocaust Organizations. The Soap Myth, which deals with the eventual loss of the remaining Holocaust survivors, will be used by the NJTF/Holocaust Theater Archive to demonstrate key issues that are affecting those survivors, historians and our society in a world that has grown increasingly opportune for Holocaust deniers. The production includes set design by Heather Wolensky, costume design by David Winitsky and lighting design by Jason Scott
  • The commemoration week will end with a series of interviews conducted on Monday April 23rd of leading scholars, survivors and historians as well as cast members and young people in a videotaped discussion about The Soap Myth and the role of theater as a tool for future Holocaust education and awareness.   These interviews will take place at NYC’s Museum of Jewish Heritage and will be added and made part of the production of The Soap Myth videotape distribution.  Those being interviewed include Jeff Cohen, Playwright The Soap Myth), Arnold Mittelman (Director The Soap Myth, President Producing Artistic Director National Jewish Theater Foundation), Greg Mullavey and Andi Potamkin (Cast  of The Soap Myth), David Marwell (Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage), Bonnie Gurewitsch (Head Curator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage), Michael Berenbaum (Former Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Former President and CEO of the SHOAH Foundation) and Holocaust Survivor Irving Roth.

The Soap Myth runs through April 22 at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, 111 West 46th St, between 6th Avenue and Broadway.  The schedule is as follows: Wednesday – Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday, and Sunday at 3 pm. There will be no public performance Thursday April 19th due to the videotaping of the play.  Tickets start at $50 and may be purchased online at www.nationaljewishtheater.com or by phoning (212) 352-3101.  A limited number of $20 student rush tickets will be available one hour before each performance for purchase at the box office, cash only.  For groups sales, please call (305) 365-8038.  Please visit www.NationalJewishTheater.com for more information.  The running time for The Soap Myth is 90 minutes with no intermission.

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Arnold Mittelman is the Producing Artistic Director of the National Jewish Theater, director of The Soap Myth and the former Producing Artistic Director for over two decades of the Coconut Grove Playhouse.  He helped found and lead the Whole Theater Company and the New York Free Theater.  Mr. Mittelman has created over 300 diverse productions including many that transferred to Broadway or the West End.  Directing credits encompass classics, dramas, comedies, musicals, and numerous world premieres, including the following: Mother Courage, by Brecht; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, by Albee; and Touch of the Poet, by O'Neill, all starring Olympia Dukakis; The Madman of the Balconies, by Mario Vargas Llosa, starring Jose Ferrer; Love Letters, by A.R. Gurney, with Eli Wallach and Ann Jackson; and Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill, by Lainie Robertson, starring Ernestine Jackson.  Other directing credits include: premiere of Mixed Blessings, by Luis Santeiro, based on Molière’s Tartuffe; Once Upon a Song, starring Anthony Newley; and a re-imagined Bricusse-Newley Roar of the Greasepaint, with Larry Kert, Obba Babatundé, and Vivian Reed.  He directed Alone Together, by Lawrence Roman on Broadway, starring Janis Paige and Kevin McCarthy.  As a producer he is developing the first major Broadway and West End revival of the Bock-Harnick-Yellen musical, The Rothschilds, and was the sole producer of the Off-Broadway hit, Visiting Mr. Green, by Jeff Baron, starring Eli Wallach then Hal Linden.  Mr. Mittelman is the founding President of the American Theater Festival Foundation and a recipient of the George Abbott Award for outstanding achievement in the arts.

National Jewish Theater Foundation/National Jewish Theater (NJT) was founded 5 years ago as a not-for-profit 501c3 organization and has rapidly succeeded in fulfilling the promise of its name and mission by becoming a truly national/international theater company. Celebrating the genius, creativity, and history of the Jewish people, its work under the leadership of President/Producing Artistic Director Arnold Mittelman has shown in New York, South Florida, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta, Toronto, Dallas, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Supported by regional and national funders, NJT produced the premiere of the Soul of Gershwinthe Musical Journey of an American Klezmer.  NJT also produced Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, with Theodore Bikel as author and actor.  NJT’s latest initiative is to create the first comprehensive research and production oriented Holocaust Theater Archive.  The company is filling an unfortunate void that has occurred by the loss of many professional resident English-speaking Jewish theaters, in major cities including New York.

Mark Saltzman (author of Rocket City, Alabam’) began his career in N.Y. with Jim Henson, writing for the Muppets.  His “Sesame Street” sketches and songs (including “Caribbean Amphibian”) earned him seven Emmy Awards.  But behind Kermit’s back, Mark was writing cabaret shows and musicals that played at The Ballroom, Soho Rep, 13th Street Theater, and the Village Gate, where he co-wrote the long-running revue A, My Name is Alice.  For network television, Mark wrote “Mrs. Santa Claus,” the holiday musical starring Angela Lansbury with songs by Jerry Herman.  For the movies, he wrote The Adventures of Milo and Otis and Three Ninjas Kick Back and has written screenplays for SONY, Universal, and Disney.  His TV movie, “The Red Sneakers,” directed by and starring Gregory Hines, aired on Showtime in 2004 and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award.  In 2007, Mark served as writer-producer of the Disney Channel TV show “Johnny and the Sprites” starring John Tartaglia.  Mark’s musical play, The Tin Pan Alley Rag opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1997 and was nominated for five Los Angeles Ovation Awards, including Best Musical.  The show continued on to The Coconut Grove Playhouse, Goodspeed, The Cleveland Playhouse and the Maltz Jupiter Theater in Florida. In June of 2009 The Tin Pan Alley Rag made its New York debut at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre under the direction of Stafford Arima with choreography by Liza Gennaro and musical direction by Michael Patrick Walker.  Mark’s stage musical, Romeo and Bernadette, played at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse. His play, Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood, based on the 1933 visit of George Bernard Shaw to the MGM studio, premiered at the Laguna Playhouse in April 2003. His newest play, Clutter, had its world premier at the Colony Theater in Burbank on February 7 of 2004. In 2002 he adapted the musical classicShow Boat for a Hollywood Bowl performance.

Irving Roth (Director of the Holocaust Resource Center - Temple Judea of Manhasset) is a recognized speaker on anti-Semitism through the ages and the Holocaust.  He is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.  As a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, he also provides personal testimony on his experiences during WWII. Mr. Roth received the 2004 Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Citizen Award from the Anne Frank Center USA for fostering human rights, social justice, and for conceiving, developing, and initiating the Adopt a Survivor program.  This program has been instituted nationally in public and parochial high school and colleges.  He recently edited and coordinated the publication of a book titled Adopt a Survivor - An Antidote to Holocaust Amnesia.  Mr. Roth has presented "papers" at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, The Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, CAJE (Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education), and Facing History and Ourselves.  He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work in Holocaust education and community service. Mr. Roth received a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and resides in Nassau County, NY with his wife Addie.

David G. Marwell is an American historian and the director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Marwell received a Ph.D. in modern European history from the State University of NY. Prior to his work at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., he was director of the Berlin Document Center and then executive director of the JFK Assassination Records Review Board. He also served as Chief of Investigative Research for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations. In that capacity, he was responsible for conducting historical and forensic research in support of Justice Department prosecution of Nazi war criminals, including Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele. He has also served as an expert witness and consultant to the governments of Canada and Australia on war crime prosecutions, and was a member of the Interagency Working Group for Nazi War Criminal Documents.

Created as a living memorial to those who perished during the Holocaust,the Museum of Jewish Heritage honors those who died by celebrating their lives—cherishing the traditions that they embraced, examining their achievements and faith, and affirming the vibrant worldwide Jewish community that is their legacy today. New generations are taught how to recognize and fight contemporary instances of injustice and oppression.  The mission of the Museum is to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust.  Multiple perspectives on modern Jewish history, life, and culture are presented in the Museum’s unique Core Exhibition and award-winning special exhibitions.  Acclaimed public programs, including discussions, films, plays, and concerts, highlight the richness of Jewish culture and ideas.  The Museum’s mission extends across the country and the world with Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) and initiatives with affiliate organizations: the Auschwitz Jewish Center and JewishGen.

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