MERCHANT OF VENICE, Featuring Jewish Ladino Score, to Open Off-Broadway This Month
A Sephardic-themed production of Shakespeare's MERCHANT OF VENICE -- with an added score of Jewish ladino songs -- debuts this month at the Center for Jewish History (15 W. 16 St.) in New York City. MERCHANT is the first of three professional productions with Sephardic themes to be presented by American Sephardi Federation; subsequent productions include NABUCCO in April and OTHELLO in June.
This trio of productions follows last year's debut of MERCHANT OF VENICE -- which uniquely includes Sephardic ladino songs incorporated into Shakespeare's text -- at the Center, marking the first time the museum and their performance space, located in Chelsea, presented a theatrical production.Jason Guberman, Director of the American Sephardi Federation, states, "The enormous success of last year's MERCHANT -- which attracted packed audiences of all ages -- warrants this expanded season at the Center
for Jewish History." Directed by David Serero, this production of MERCHANT OF VENICE -- William Shakespeare's play about a 16th century Venetian merchant who defaults on a considerable loan provided by Shylock, a Jewish moneylender -- features Jewish ladino songs of the era. Ladino was the language of Sephardic Spanish Jews before they were expelled from Spain following the Inquisition in 1492, a language they took with them as they settled in other parts of the world. Featured in the cast of MERCHANT are David Serero as Shylock; Justin Waldo as Antonio; Dina Desmone as Portia; Joseph Talluto as Bassanio; and Sean Dube as Morocco/Salerio/Duke. The MERCHANT OF VENICE will perform January 13 at 3 pm; January 17 at 7 pm; January 19 at 8 pm; January 21 at 3 pm. Tickets are $26 and $36. To purchase tickets: asfmerchant2016.bpt.me or 1-800-8383006. NABUCCO -- Giuseppe Verdi's renowned opera about the Babylonian Jews exile during Biblical times -- will perform April 6-17; David Serero will star as the title role of Nabucco, featuring others soloists. OTHELLO -- which will be performed in a Jewish Moroccan tradition, bringing Shakespeare's drama of race, deceit and murder back to its origins -- will run June 14-28 starring David Serero as Othello.David Serero is a Parisian-born, classically trained actor and baritone, who has performed operas, pop concerts in more than 800 concerts around the world, including at numerous venues in NYC. In addition to producing and starring in MERCHANT OF VENICE last year at the Center for Jewish History, he has appeared Off-Broadway in the musical TRUFFLES, and performed sold-out solo concerts at the Snapple Theatre Center in Times Square. In 2012, he made his sold out WEST END debuts at the Dominion Theatre. In London, David performed at the Wembley stadium and at the Royal College of Music. In Paris he starred as Don Quixote from MAN OF LA MANCHA and as Happy Mac from BEGGAR'S HOLIDAY by Duke Ellington. He recorded a duet with JERMAINE JACKSON and produced his Jazz album. He performed two concerts on Times Square for Best of France. He has recorded several albums including a Frank Sinatra tribute album, Sephardi (an album of Sephardic songs), Habanera a modern version of Carmen Opera, All My Love is For You (which he entirely composed and produced). Born deaf, Serero learned to speak, sing and play the piano only when he was a teenager in France, going on to study in some of the greatest opera academies in the world, including the Mariinsky Theater in Russia. www.davidserero.com THE AMERICAN SEPHARDI FEDERATION is a founding member of the Center for Jewish History, is a non-profit Jewish organization that strengthens and organizes the religious and cultural activities of Sephardic Jews, preserves Sephardic heritage, tradition and culture. The Center for Jewish History is a cultural institution, independent research facility and destination for the exploration of Jewish history and heritage. It is home to five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The partners' archival collections span more than 700 years of history and total over 500,000 volumes and 100 million documents (in 23 languages and 52 alphabet systems). The collections also include thousands of artworks, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films and photographs. At the Center, history is illuminated through scholarship and cultural programming, exhibitions and symposia, lectures and performances.