Getting to know the subjects of Stars of David

Arts / Article

By Carrie Chapter, Philadelphia Theatre Company

Rodgers & Hammerstein gave us a great tune from their 1956 musical, The King & I which really exemplifies, for me, how theatres welcome a fresh crop of creative teams into a new season. If you recall, Anna sits amongst the children of Yul Brynner, her Victorian poof of a dress barely contained, and, with a choral backdrop of assorted wives, sings “Getting to Know You.” That’s similar to how I feel about each incoming show…with the traditional fan dance interlude and all.

Dramaturg/Blogger, Carrie Chapter, with her STARS OF DAVID rehearsal collage. Photo by Rose Schnall.

Our first show in the 2012-13 season, the world premiere musical, Stars of David expands the “Getting to Know You” idea exponentially. Why is that? The musical features actors portraying a vast multitude of featured Jewish public figures, our lauded subjects referenced in the very title. So, without further ado, here are just a few of my findings…

  • Leonard Nimoy: Nimoy is a notable jack of all trades – director, actor, poet, musician, and photographer – even to the extent of opening up his own pet shop specializing in exotic animals following the close of Star Trek in 1970.
  • Edgar Bronfman, Sr.: Though he has American citizenship, Bronfman was born in Montreal, and even attended college at McGill University there. Plus, his grandson, Benjamin, is engaged to British Sri Lankan hip-hop artist, M.I.A.
  • Aaron Sorkin: This is a favorite story director Rob Reiner loves to tell. After he wrote the screenplay for A Few Good Men,  Sorkin rewrote the Broadway play for the National Touring Company, since there were elements added to the film that weren’t originally in the play, which Sorkin thought were improved upon in the making of the film.
  • Joan Rivers: Joan collects Faberge eggs. I guess, for all of her toughness, she cherishes fragility in her surroundings.
  • Wendy Wasserstein: Unbeknownst to most people, the theatre was in her blood, literally. Wendy followed in the footsteps of her grandfather, Simon Schliefer, who was a prominent Polish Jewish playwright.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Always the conquering crusader for women’s rights, Justice Ginsburg was Columbia University’s first tenured female professor.
  • Andy Cohen: Though he earned his producer badge at CBS with Dan Rather, he began his ascent at Bravo TV after being the network blogger.
  • Ruth Reichl: She played Herself in the 2001 HBO film, Dinner with Friends, adapted from the Donald Margulies play.
  • Tony Kushner: Though Tony worked with Steven Spielberg on the film, Munich, in 2005, he is also the screenwriter to Spielberg’s upcoming film, Lincoln, based partly on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Lots of Oscar buzz!
  • Kenneth Cole: He was one of the first high-profile public figures to campaign for AIDS awareness and research in 1985.
  • Fran Drescher: She pitched the idea of “The Nanny” to the president of CBS on a flight to Paris.
  • Gloria Steinem: The stalwart feminist found love when she was married in 2000 to Christian Bale’s dad, David, until his death in 2003.