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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Announces Newly Formed Artistic Council

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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Announces Newly Formed Artistic Council

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) announces the formalized creation of an Artistic Council, comprised of renowned theater artists and producers who will work closely with NYTF CEO Christopher Massimine and NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek to help steer and advise on the company's programming. The 103-year-old National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, in residence at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Pl., NYC, 10280), has a unique place in Theatre History as the last-standing of the professional Yiddish Theatres of the Golden Age of 2nd Avenue.

The noteworthy entertainment veterans who comprise the Council are: Tony Award-winning producer Margot Astrachan (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Realistic Joneses, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever); 9-time Tony Award-winning producer and general manager Emanuel Azenberg (Hamilton; Rent; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Sunday in the Park with George; Brighton Beach Memoirs; The Odd Couple; The Lion in Winter; The Wiz); 3-time Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, and orchestrator Jason Robert Brown (Prince of Broadway, Honeymoon in Vegas, The Bridges of Madison County, Parade, The Last 5 Years); Tony Award-winning playwright and lyricist Joe DiPietro (Memphis; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Living on Love; All Shook Up; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change); 4-time Tony Award-nominated actor Tovah Feldshuh (Pippin, Golda's Balcony, Lend Me a Tenor, Yentl), Museum of Jewish Heritage CEO Michael S. Glickman; Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, and 4-time Tony Award-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!, She Loves Me, The Apple Tree, The Rothschilds); Guggenheim Fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist Jon Marans (Old Wicked Songs, The Tempermentals); Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin ("Homeland," "Criminal Minds," The Princess Bride, Sunday in the Park with George, Evita, The Secret Garden, The Wild Party); Tony Award-nominated producer and actor Jana Robbins (Ragtime, Little Women, Gypsy); 11-time Tony Award-winning producer Daryl Roth (Hello Dolly!, Indecent, Groundhog Day, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Curtains, August: Osage County, War Horse, The Normal Heart, Kinky Boots, Proof), and 2-time Tony Award-nominated producer Lawrence S. Toppall (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,; Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, On Your Feet!).

"As we continue to present award winning productions celebrating the riches of the Yiddish theater, we are forging new relationships in the Broadway arena, making it increasingly important for NYTF to collaborate with creative perspectives from outside the organization," says NYTF CEO Christopher Massimine. "These leaders of the industry will inform our work and guide us to maximize innovation and opportunity so that NYTF can best serve our mission to a universal audience."

"We've been fortunate to find friends and champions among the entertainment world," says NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek. "The Artistic Council marks the beginning of a new chapter for the organization - a chapter filled with the excitement of new associations and synergies as we enter into our 3-year strategic plan. The Council's formation is critical to our endeavors as we position the organization on a global scale, always finding innovative ways to keep Yiddish theater fresh and relevant, as the beacon of art and culture that connects and intersects with the wider theater going public.

Originally known simply as the "Folksbiene," or the "people's stage," NYTF presented literary plays which addressed the social concerns of the day, often from pre-eminent world dramatists such as Ibsen and Hauptman, in Yiddish translation as well as original Yiddish plays from the emerging writers of the time such as Jacob Gordin. Today's NYTF has inherited both this historic legacy, as well as the legacy of the commercial Yiddish theaters, which produced thousands of operettas, musical comedies, melodramas, and escapist fare, touching the hearts and lifting the spirits of a vibrant immigrant community that was still finding its way in the Golden Land. The Yiddish theater played a central role as both a social hub and much needed relief for hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants, who toiled long hours in sweatshops and who felt cut off from the traditional lives that they left behind in the old country. The tumultuous life on the Lower East Side where Eastern European Jewish immigrants lived shoulder to shoulder with immigrants from Ireland, Italy, China and other nations, in close proximity to the Bowery theater district, produced generations of composers and playwrights who would go on to create the American Broadway Theater tradition.

The timing of the Council's formation announcement coincides with Broadway: A Jewish American Legacy, an all-star gala concert event to be held on Monday, December 18th. The evening, an intimate concert consisting of song selections from the repertoire of Broadway's Jewish writers and composers, will honor 4-time Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks. Proceeds from this event will fund the company's operating in the inception year of NYTF's Yiddish Theatre Restoration Project, an ongoing initiative to identify and restore the thousands of lost and forgotten gems of the Yiddish Stage-from readings to concerts, from performance labs to workshops, and ultimately, for a selected few, full productions.

The first undertaking of NYTF's Yiddish Theatre Restoration Project will be the darkly comedic operetta The Sorceress (Di Kishefmakherin), the first Yiddish Theatre production ever to have played the United States. This engagement of The Sorceress will mark the first time that the operetta will be presented to the public in over 80 years. Helmed by Drama Desk Award-nominee Motl Didner (NYTF Associate Artistic Director) with Music Direction by Mr. Mlotek, The Sorceress will be performed with its fully restored Yiddish dialogue and orchestrated music, with English and Russian translation supertitles. Casting will be announced shortly. The Sorceress will play 5 performances only from December 25th - January 1st. This strictly limited, in-development book in hand staged concert will be made available to the public at the extraordinarily accessible ticket price of $25

Now celebrating its 103rd season, the Tony Award-nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is the longest consecutively producing theatre in the US and the world's oldest continuously operation Yiddish theatre company. Dedicated to creating a living legacy through the arts, connecting generations and bridging communities, NYTF brings history to life by reviving the lost and forgotten gems of the Yiddish stage through its global restoration project, commissioning new work, and adapting pre-existing work for the 21st Century. Serving a versatile audience comprised of performing arts patrons, cultural enthusiasts, Yiddish-language aficionados and the general public, the company presents plays, musicals, concerts, lectures, interactive educational workshops and community-building activities in English and Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles accompanying performances. NYTF provides access to the hundreds of years of cultural expression, aiming to inspire the imaginations of the next generation to contribute their own stories to this valuable work.

NYTF's Artistic Council plans on meeting twice annually, with small working committees meeting intermittently. To learn more about the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, the Artistic Council, The Sorceress, and Broadway: A Jewish American Legacy, visit www.nytf.org or call (212) 213-2120.


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