BWW Reviews: The 'STARS OF DAVID' Shine Brighter Than the Sun at the Toronto Centre
Now through June 1st, audiences can experience a real treat as the cast of Stars of David asks what religion means to you?
The show is based on a book of the same name by Abigail Pogrebin - which includes 62 interviews with famous Jews. The show, which recently had a very successful off-Broadway run, takes some of these interviews and using some of the best composers from Broadway - they musicalize a moment in time in the life of these "chosen people."
You may be wondering, why interview just these famous Jews, as opposed to some regular Jewish doctors and lawyers? Pogrebin answers this question in her book, stating that albeit her sample is a small one, she wanted to interview famous Jews because they had, in theory, completed the "American dream" - and she wanted to know how their religious identity has affected their lives.
All the celebrity stories featured in Stars of David are played by four actors: Darrin Baker, Gabi Epstein, Lisa Horner, and Will Lamond. Each one of these talented people bring to life the characters they portray - not always doing a perfect impersonation, as some of these celebrities have very iconic speaking styles, but giving a truly honest and often moving performance.
The women of the cast, however, steal the show. Epstein brings to life one of the most famous Jewish Actresses' of our time, Fran Drescher, who for the better part of a decade starred on the hit television show "The Nanny." Her number, titled "Eh, What Do They Know?" - which features lines such as "Barbra, can you hear me?" and "I put the Jew in Julie Andrews" is a complete show stopper which is sure to leave your ribs hurting for the duration of the performance. Epstein is of course all too familiar with Barbra Streisand having played Fanny in Funny Girl in Concert this past fall.
Horner steals part of the second half of the one act show dancing around the stage as Joan Rivers, in an equally hilarious number where we learn about Rivers' pride in her Jewish heritage, her love of going to temple, and her love of the stage.
The production is brilliantly directed by Avery Saltzman, who does an excellent job of making the show work in the Studio Theatre space. Special mention must be made to the band, led by Mark Camilleri on piano, and also features Abigail Neale, Jonathan Tortolanom and Aaron Cheung who make the small ensemble of 4 sound as though they were a full orchestra.
This show will make you laugh, cry, and laugh some more. You may or may not have a religious experience - but what I can promise you is that you will be thoroughly entertained by Stars of David.
Where and When?
Now through June 1 at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts. Tickets available on Ticketmaster.