Henry Wishcamper And Grammy-Winning John McDaniel Bring MAX & WILLY'S LAST LAUGH To Life in Staged Reading
When German star, comedian Max Ehrlich, and his best friend, composer Willy Rosen were caught in Holland in 1942 and sent to the Westerbork Transit Camp, the commandant recognized Max and made him an offer he couldn't refuse: Every Monday night before the train leaves for Auschwitz the next morning, Max and Willy will do a cabaret. IF they are funny, they do it next week. If not - they are on the train. What followed was 18 months of the funniest cabaret in all of Europe!
Come witness the original Funny or Die.
Staged reading performances of Max & Willy's Last Laugh will take place on December 7 @ 8pm and December 8 @ 5pm at UCLA James Bridges Theater in Westwood located at 235 Charles E Young Dr E, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
These performances feature live music and the talents of Jake Broder (Morning Show, Silicon Valley), Conor Duffy (Superstore, Good Girls), Kerry O'Malley (Snowpiercer, Terminator Genisys), Ben Bodé (Empire Records), Leo Marks (The Maestro, All My Children), Larry Cedar (Deadwood), Lucy Davenport (Thor:Ragnarok, Dr. Strange), Apollo Dukakis (ER), Mike Lanahan (American Horror Story), and Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H*). The creative team includes The Goodman's Henry Wishcamper (Director), Grammy and Emmy winning John McDaniel (Music Director) and multiple Ovation winning Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara's Jake Broder (Co-writer).
Max and Willy's Last Laugh is the true story of German comedian Max Ehrlich and his best friend, composer Willy Rosen, two of the biggest cabaret stars of 1930's Germany who created "the greatest cabaret in Europe," while incarcerated in Holland's Westerbork Transit Camp. Upon their arrival, the Commandant of the camp, starstruck, said, "Max Ehrlich?! In my camp?! Such an honor! I am a huge fan of your work! Would you start a cabaret here? The train leaves for Auschwitz on Tuesday mornings, so if you perform on Monday nights, it would help with camp morale! And, if you're successful, you won't be on the train." What followed was 18 months of the funniest, sharpest, most entertaining cabaret in all of Europe, created and performed in captivity. As you can imagine, it didn't go smoothly: neither with their Nazi captors nor their fellow campmates.
Max and Willy's Last Laugh includes the actual comedy sketches, songs, and jokes written and performed by Max and Willy in the camp and discovered only 4 years ago in a forgotten manuscript smuggled out of Westerbork in 1943. For the first time in almost 80 years, an audience will experience the very sketches and songs the Westerbork captives themselves experienced when they packed that great hall every Monday night, desperate for a laugh.
Rabbi Jonathan Aaron responded, "This isn't Schindler's List. This isn't The Producers. This isn't Life is Beautiful." He adds, "This is something necessary. A new way to think about the Holocaust. Through laughter."
Writer/Performer Conor Duffy has been working as a professional actor, writer and producer for the last 16 years. Most recent television acting credits include Superstore (NBC), Good Girls (NBC) and The Mick (FOX). He was also seen playing opposite John Savage in the film "From A Place of Darkness." On stage, he has performed at theaters including the Northwest Asian American Theater, The Pasadena Playhouse and the Broadwater. Along with Jake Broder, he won the LA Weekly Award for Best Ensemble In A Play for The Pasadena Playhouse production of "Stoneface: The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Buster Keaton." Recent writing/producing credits include both comedy and drama projects with TNT, Warner Brothers and John Wells Productions.
Writer/Performer Jake Broder trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and worked there for 10 years before coming back to the United States. As an actor, you may have seen him in Apple TV's Morning Show or HBO's Silicon Valley. Recently, his play Our American Hamlet (about Edwin Booth) was nominated for Best New Play in Boston for its premiere at the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Jake co-wrote and originated the role of Louis in 'Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara', winning three Ovation Awards, LADCC, Garland and LA Weekly awards for Best Actor and Best Production. This play ran at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles as was directed by Oscar Winner, Taylor Hackford. It has since toured Chicago and SoCal. Jake's play His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley played Off-West end as well as Off-Broadway at 59e59 and in LA.
Director Henry Wishcamper is an Artistic Associate at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Goodman directing credits: Blue Skies Process, The Matchmaker, The Little Foxes, Ask Aunt Susan, Other Desert Cities, Animal Crackers, Talking Pictures and A Christmas Carol (2013 - 2019). Other Chicago credits: The Night Alive (Steppenwolf) and Dance of Death (Writers). New York: Spirit Control (Manhattan Theatre Club), Graceland (LCT3), Port Authority (Atlantic), The Polish Play (Katharsis), PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA (Keen Company). Regional: Animal Crackers (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Birds (Guthrie) Engaging Shaw and The Mystery of Irma Vep (Old Globe), The Seafarer and Speech & Debate (Hartford TheaterWorks). Henry served as the artistic director of Katharsis Theater Company and the Maine Summer Dramatic Institute. He is a Drama League directing fellow and a graduate of Yale University.
Music Director John McDaniel is a Grammy and Emmy Award winning Music Director, Composer, Director, Arranger, Orchestrator & Producer and is an Artistic Director at the Tony Award winning O'Neill Theater Center. Recently he directed Sondheim Originals at 54 Below, Piano Men at Birdland, Into The Woods & Hair in Concert at the historic Patchogue Theater. On Broadway: Bonnie and Clyde (Drama Desk Nomination, Best Orchestrations), Catch Me If You Can, Brooklyn (Producer and Orchestrator), Annie Get Your Gun (Grammy Award), Taboo, Chicago, Grease, Patti LuPone on Broadway and Company - the Original Cast in Concert at Lincoln Center. On Television: "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" (2 Emmy Awards & 8 nominations). John has collaborated with Cab Calloway, Shirley MacLaine, George Burns, Joel Grey, Carol Burnett, Betty Buckley, Bette Midler and has guest conducted at 15 Symphony Orchestras across America, including 5 concerts with his hometown St. Louis Symphony. John received a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.
The creative team will also include Obie Winner Takeshi Kata (Theatrical Set Designer) for future iterations.
This event is produced by Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. It is co-sponsored by the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Additional producer includes Painted Tree Road Media.
Reserved seating $100 (Reserved Seating), $36 (General Admission) and $18 (Students; AEA; Under 30. ALL must present ID). For those who cannot attend but would like to contribute to the temple, every $500 donation will gift a new audience member five (5) seats to a performance of their choice.
UCLA James Bridges Theater is located at 235 Charles E Young Dr E, Los Angeles, CA 90095.
For more information and to purchase tickets, call 310.409.4634. For more information, https://tebh.org/MaxandWilly