Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who ARE "The People in the Picture"?

Last night I saw the Broadway musical "The People in the Picture" and let me tell you: YOU HAVE TO SEE IT!!!!!!

There's a brief synopsis on the play's site and the playbill certainly didn't give anything away. You have to experience this musical from beginning to end!
It grabs your attention from the very beginning with the most beautiful music (thank you Mike Stoller and Artie Butler!) and it is rich with history and culture and tradition.

After the show, we had the privilege of chatting with the creator of the play, Iris Rainer Dart (author of "Beaches" which later became the classic movie with Bette Midler), Mike Stoller and Artie Butler (who wrote and arranged the music) and some members of the cast.

Here's a little insight into how this play came to fruition:

Iris was born to a Russian mother and Lithuanian father (she was also the first female writer on "The Sonny and Cher Show"). One day she saw a show based in the 1935-1939 era, and although it was all in Yiddish, she was able to understand the language without using the subtitles. This reminded her of her childhood, but what was really poignant to her, was that despite everything Jews had been through (especially during that period of the show) they were still doing it with comedy and music...and so the concept of her play was born.

Years later, as the play was manifesting, a friend of Iris' told her she should contact Mike Stoller, half of the dynamic duo Lieber & Stoller. Mike and Iris began working on music for the play, and that same friend (who suggested Mike) recommended the one and only, Artie Butler.

Artie regaled his family story, about his father coming to America in 1917 from Poland, with his wife and his 9 brothers and sisters. He told us how they marked the boat where his parents and family, and other immigrants, were allowed to walk and were restricted to bathroom duty only 3 times a day. He became a little choked up as he said "they kissed the ground when they got to Ellis Island".

The play is not just a Russian play or a Jewish play, "it is universal" as someone said to Mike Stoller.

The two young girls in the play, Rachel Resheff and Andie Mechanic, are both grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. This past Summer, Rachel  (who is not only adorable but bursting with talent at 10 YEARS OLD) went to Israel to visit her great-grandmother I think, (I don't remember the Yiddish word she used - sorry - but I'm guessing it was her great-grandma) and she was able to 'interview' her and hear her story. I think we ALL should know our story. This play was especially touching to me because I am now learning more about my OWN family, both on my mom's and dad's side.

It is a phenomenal play and it speaks to the humanity in all of us. I strongly urge you to see it if you're in the NYC area, and also to learn about YOUR heritage. Who are the people in YOUR picture?
Hear the stories of your parents, your grandparents, your families; and pass on your culture and traditions to your children.
I hope it adds to the colors of your life.
*Special Thanks to Candace and Lisa for organizing tickets, and to Elizabeth Healy for the Q&A with the cast.

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