Tag Archives: interview

JR OutLoud: Musical director and orchestrator David Charles Abell discusses his work on Kiss Me Kate


As Opera North revives its acclaimed 2015 production of Kiss Me Kate, the supremely witty reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew by Cole Porter and Bella and Sam Spewack, Judi Herman speaks to the show’s  orchestrator and original musical director David Charles Abell. They discuss the Spewacks, the brilliant Jewish husband and wife team, revealing the role the Spewacks played in getting Cole Porter onboard to write the musical that revived his career, one of his best and most popular works.

Photo by Guy Farrow

Kiss Me Kate runs Saturday 23 – Saturday 30 June. 7.30pm (Mon- Sat) 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £10-£105. London Coliseum, WC2N 4ES. 020 7845 9300. www.operanorth.co.uk

The show then tours to Scotland Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 July. 7.15pm, 2.15pm (Sat only). £15.50-£49.50. Edinburgh Festival Theatre, EH8 9FT. 013 1529 6000. www.operanorth.co.uk

JR OutLoud: Phil Willmott talks about directing the European premiere of Arthur Miller’s last play

In two scenes of Finishing the Picture recorded exclusively for JR OutLoud, we meet the outrageous husband and wife acting coaches, based on Lee and Paula Strasberg. In the first extract coach Flora, played by Nicky Goldie, is complaining to producer Phillip, played by Oliver Le Sueur, about ‘horrific’ working conditions and disrespect. Later you’ll hear Tony Wredden as Jerome, Paula’s pretentious husband. The action takes place on a movie set and director Phil Willmott reveals just how personal Arthur Miller gets in this autobiographical play inspired by the filming of The Misfits, Marilyn Monroe’s last movie, for which he wrote the screenplay; and just how resonant the vulnerable star’s treatment is today and for the ‘Me Too’ movement.

Finishing the Picture runs Tuesday 12 June – Saturday 7 July. 7.30pm (Tue-Sat), 3pm (Sat & Sun only). £18-£20, £16-£18 concs. Finborough Theatre, SW10 9ED. 01223 357 851. www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Discover more podcasts on JR OutLoud and read our latest theatre reviews.

JR OutLoud: Diane Samuels talks about her play Poppy + George and her new oratorio Song of Dina

Liverpudlian playwright Diane Samuels talks to Judi Herman about identity and change from London’s East End 1919 to now. These themes feature in her play Poppy + George, about Northerner Poppy Wright, who is taken on at a tailoring workshop by the proprietor Smith, a Russian Jew with a Chinese past. It’s here that Poppy also meets Tommy the music hall artist and George the chauffeur, both changed by serving in the trenches.

Diane also discusses her new project (at 21:49), Song of Dina, a multimedia oratorio with music by composer Maurice Chernick, based on the story of the Patriarch Jacob’s only daughter.

Poppy + George runs to Saturday 27 February, 7.30pm & 2.30pm, £12-£22.50, at Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Rd, WD17 1JZ; 01923 225671. http://watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk

Song of Dina launch event on Wednesday 6 April, 7.45pm, FREE, at JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8989. www.jw3.org.uk

Read JR’s four-star review of Poppy + George

JR OutLoud: Hear filmmaker Gur Bentwich chat to Judi Herman about an extraordinary Jewish dynasty

From humble origins in Whitechapel, the eccentric and ambitious 19th-century lawyer Herbert Bentwich set out to establish an aristocratic Jewish dynasty, having a profound impact on British Jewish life and on the new state of Israel. In this wry and witty documentary, The Bentwich Syndrome, brilliantly enhanced by Monty Pythonesque animation, Bentwich’s great-grandson Gur sets out to discover the truth about this much-maligned and enigmatic family. Along the way, from Herbert’s daughter, who did not just become Christian but also a nun – and a lesbian – to the 20th-century scion, ‘Quick Quick’ Norman Bentwich, a whirlwind who advised Hailie Selassie of Ethiopia, helped set up the Kindertransport in Europe and, became attorney general in the British Mandate in Palestine, the filmmaker and his wife and partner Maya Kenig  uncover a remarkable story, funny and sometimes tragic, of fervent Zionists, inspired artists, and outrageously determined rebels.

See The Bentwich Syndrome with Gur Bentwich in conversation at the following places:

Monday 16 November, 4pm, JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk
Wednesday 18 November, 6.30pm, Odeon Swiss Cottage, 96 Finchley Rd, NW3 5EL; 0333 006 7777. www.odeon.co.uk
Thursday 19 November, 7.30pm, Seven Arts Leeds, 31A Harrogate Rd, LS7 3PD; 0113 262 6777. www.sevenleeds.co.uk

JR OutLoud: As Hans Krása’s concentration camp opera, Brundibár, prepares to show on the Watford Palace stage, Judi Herman caught a rehearsal and spoke to the cast

Mahogany Opera Group’s critically-acclaimed production of Hans Krása’s Brundibár – the 1938 short children’s opera famously performed in the World War II concentration camp Terezin (German Theresienstadt) – heads to Watford Palace Theatre this weekend. So Judi Herman sat in on a rehearsal and met with the director Frederic Wake-Walker, conductor Alice Farnham and two of the 40-odd talented children recruited for these performances; nine-year-old Erin Daniels, who plays Aninku and 14-year-old Ethan George, who plays her brother Pepíček. Brundibár the evil organ grinder thwarts them in their attempt to raise money by busking to buy milk for their sick mother – until some clever animals come to their aid, enlisting the help of the town’s children. It’s a story of the triumph of the poor and powerless over the big, strong and ruthless that resonated throughout the camp – which is just as powerful today.

By Judi Herman

Brundibár runs Saturday 18 – Sunday 19 April in Watford and Sunday 28 June in Norwich.
7pm (Sat), 3pm (Sun). £10, £8 children. Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Rd, WD17 1JZ; 019 2323 5455. www.watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk
2pm. £10, £6 concs. Norwich Playhouse, NR3 1AB; 016 0359 8598. www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

For more on Brundibár, read Judi Herman’s interview with Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger, who created the role of the Cat in the original production in Terezin.

JR OutLoud: Judi Herman speaks to the cast of The 2000 Year Old Man and offers listeners a sneak preview of the show


The hotly anticipated rebirth of the legendary comedy shtick is nigh! Mel Brook’s comedy tour de force as the oldest man in the world (Jewish, Yiddish accent), in improvised interviews with ‘TV reporter’ Carl Reiner, subsequently made into a collection of best-seller albums is about to take to the stage. This month, Canadian-born actor, writer and voice-over artist Kerry Shale, together with the British comedian, producer and writer Chris Neill are bringing The 2000 Year Old Man to JW3 in a verbatim performance where the actors wear earbuds and copy the edited recordings word-for-word, intonation-for-intonation.

Judi Herman has been following the continuing story and was ‘thrilled and delighted’* to get a sneak preview for Jewish Renaissance and to talk to the brand new double act of Shale and Neill. Hear the podcast above or download it for later listening.

*see the show to find out where this quote fits in!

The 2000 Year Old Man runs from Monday 9 – Sunday 22 March. 8pm. £6.50-£12.50. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk

JR’s Rebecca Taylor talks Tehran, Shmita and the fall of the Berlin Wall with Jon Kaye on Sunday Jewish Radio

This week Jewish Renaissance editor Rebecca Taylor spoke to Jon Kaye at Sunday Jewish Radio. The station, which is based at Jewish Care in Golders Green, London, broadcasts interviews and conversations on a range of topics and airs – you guessed it – on Sundays! Rebecca told Jon about why she left mainstream journalism for a Jewish magazine and talked about her own Jewish identity, as well as some of the stories in the current issue of JR. Such as Jewish Tehran, why Shmita is becoming a hip commandment, and what has happened to the German Jewish community since the fall of the Berlin wall. You can listen to the interview above.

To find out more about Sunday Jewish Radio, visit their website.

Interview: Ela Weissberger – One of the stars of the original Terezin production of Brundibár

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As a brand new Mahogany Opera Group production of Hans Krása’s Brundibár, the 1938 short children’s opera famously performed in World War II concentration camp Terezin (German Theresienstadt), comes to the Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival this February,  Ela Weissberger (pictured), who created the role of the Cat spoke to Judi Herman before she left her New York home to address the Scottish Parliament for Holocaust Memorial Day.

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Interview: Kerry Shale talks about taking classic romcom When Harry Met Sally to the live stage

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On Tuesday 2 December, JW3 brings Rob Reiner’s effortless romcom When Harry Met Sally to the live on stage as part of the Jewish Comedy Festival. Canadian-born actor Kerry Shale plays Harry and tells Judi Herman all about playing the famous role.

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