A Jew Grows in Brooklyn



By: ILAN MESTER  
Published: May 14th 2010
in Culture » Stage

Jake Ehrenreich stars in A Jew Grows in Brooklyn
Pic: Carol Rosegg

By the end of A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, audience members feel as if they’ve known its star and creator, Jake Ehrenreich, since his Bar Mitzvah.

 

It takes literally about five minutes for viewers to get involved and start calling out the names of their childhood neighbourhoods. And it’s these little interactions between Ehrenreich and the audience that personalize the play.

 

It also helps that Ehrenreich’s childhood stories of growing up in Brooklyn are extremely interesting. Ehrenreich is the baby boomer child of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to New York. He grew up listening to Yiddish classics and American rock n’ roll music. He has a great voice and a great band accompanying him.

 

A large portion of the show – staged at the Panasonic Theatre – re-creates a typical day in the Catskills. But even those who aren’t familiar with the iconic resort destination can still appreciate the Catskills. As Ehrenreich explains, Yiddish popular culture was crucial in forming the foundation of American entertainment during the 1950s and ‘60s.

 

Ehrenreich has a clear knack for comedy, and the show features enough funny moments to lose count of.

 

He also goes into detail about what it was like growing up with parents who survived the Holocaust, and what it was like as a kid to understand this dark moment in history.

 

Because Ehrenreich is so comfortable with the show, having toured with it for years, A Jew Grows in Brooklyn runs smoothly. Sometimes the play draws too heavily on nostalgic moments from his past. But the show blends his entertaining, singing and storytelling skills well enough that these nostalgic moments work.

 

The set is relatively simple but very detailed. Aside from recreating a typical Brooklyn street, the shadow of trees and a worn-down bench add to the set. What’s also interesting is that the screen where Ehrenreich’s personal photos and videos are projected is shaped like a picture frame.

 

Because the set is realistic and Ehrenreich’s story is his own, the play becomes personable and engaging. There are four shows coming up, but Ehrenreich announced yesterday his play is being extended in Toronto.

 

For more information, visit www.mirvish.com.

 

 

 

UPDATE: The show will return June 3-13 at the Panasonic Theatre.




Related articles: (A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, stage, Jake Ehrenreich, Yiddish music)



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