Horse Trade Theater Group (Heidi Grumelot, Artistic Director, Erez Ziv, Managing Director) will present the World Premiere of Denis Woychuk's(Attorney for the Damned; owner of The Kraine Theater, The Red Room, and KGB Bar) historical musical, Isaac Babel and The Gangster King with Book by Denis Woychuk and Stephen Vincent Brennan, Lyrics by Denis Woychuk, and Music by Denny Blake and Denis Woychuk. The production will be directed by Stephen Vincent Brennan (Attorney for the Damned) with Costume Design by Cassandra Andrus, Music Direction by Denny Blake, Chorography by Diana Byrne, and Set Design by Crystal Taylor.
During the 1936 Moscow purges, five friends rehearse an operetta about the Jewish gangster Benya Krik, a folk hero made famous by the writer Isaac Babel, to be performed for Stalin's cohorts that evening. Fiddler On The Roof meets The Godfather, in the operetta within a play that is Isaac Babel and the Gangster King.
Isaac Babel (1894-1940) was a Russian language journalist, playwright, literary translator, and short story writer. He is best known as the author ofRed Cavalry, Story of My Dovecote, and Tales of Odessa (on which Isaac Babel and the Gangster King is based), all of which are considered masterpieces of Russian literature. Babel has also been acclaimed as "the greatest prose writer of Russian Jewry." Loyal to, but not uncritical of, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Isaac Babel fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge due to his long term affair with the wife of NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov. Babel was arrested by the NKVD at Peredelkino on the night of May 15, 1939. After "confessing", under torture, to being a Trotskyist terrorist and foreign spy, Babel was shot on January 27, 1940. The arrest and execution of Isaac Babel has been labeled a catastrophe for world literature.
The production will receive a four-week engagement November 1-25 at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery); Thursday through Saturday at 8pm with a closing night performance on Sunday, November 25 at 8pm (no performance on Thursday, November 22). Tickets ($25, including a free drink at KGB Bar) are available online at www.horseTRADE.info or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444.
DENIS WOYCHUK a former judge and lawyer, Denis has written several musicals that have debuted in New York City, including Attorney for the Damned (2008), Mimi & Gustav In Love & Pirates (for children, 2010), and The Damned (co-writer, 2001). He is also the author of the memoir,Attorney for the Damned-A Lawyer's Life with the Criminally Insane, the children's books The Other Side of the Wall, and Pirates! He has written for The New York Times and has been anthologized in American Monsters-44 Rats, Blackhats, and Plutocrats (ed. Jack Newfield and Mark Jacobson). What makes him qualified to write a musical about a Jewish Gangster and the Russian Revolution? In his own words: "I'm from Brooklyn."
STEPHEN VINCENT BRENNAN has worked as a circus clown, book editor and author, teacher, cabaret artist, actor, director, sheepherder, and playwright. He was a founding member of the resident Acting Company at the Perry Street Theatre in NYC where he directed the Experimental Unit for ten years and appeared in over thirty productions. Select New York stage credits include Paranoise (director), Attorney for the Damned (director),The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (book writer), Macbeth: A Goth Rock-Musical (book) and Speakeasy: A Backstage Procedural Musical Comedy (book writer). He is currently a playwright and director with the Kaufman Center on the Upper West Side, where he has written and directed over twenty plays for the Merkin Concert Hall stage.
DENNY BLAKE has performed in 28 countries and has played guitar in 9 Broadway shows including Hairspray, Fosse and Aida as well as the first national tour of Movin' Out. He has performed alongside Billy Joel, Tommy James and Helix as well as his own bands. He is a songwriter/composer and presently a member of the Starlight Orchestra. Denny slso starred in Denis Woychuk's Attorney For The Damned.
HORSE TRADE THEATER GROUP is a self-sustaining theater development group; with a focus on new work that has produced a massive quantity of stimulating downtown theater. Horse Trade's Resident Artist Program offers a home to a select group of Independent theater artists, pooling together a great deal of talent and energy. It is also the home of FRIGID New York – the first and only festival of its kind in New York City. In 2011 Horse Trade received the New York Innovative Theatre Ellen Stewart Stewardship Award for demonstrating a significant contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community through service, support and leadership.