Music

In conversation: Barry Humphries

Aussie performers Barry Humphries and Meow Meow discuss their show, Weimar Cabaret

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As Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret prepares for take-off at the Barbican next week, Judi Herman speaks to the stars of the show. Australian actor, artist and comedian (you may well recognise him as Dame Edna Everage) Humphries and fellow Aussie – cabaret performer Melissa Madden Gray, who’s best known as Meow Meow. The pair discuss their passion for the raucous jazz of 1920s/30s Berlin – the backbone of the musical – and the composers and lyricists who were deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. They also talk about the music’s influence on the Australian, European and American music scenes and Humphries reveals why he gravitated towards Jewish boys at school.

Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret runs Wednesday 11 – Sunday 29 July. 7.45pm, 2.30pm (Wed & Sat exc. 11 Jul), 3pm (Sun only) £19-£75. Barbican Theatre, EC2Y 8DS. www.barbican.org.uk

Read our review of Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret on the JR blog.

In conversation: Jessica Duchen

London wordsmith Jessica Duchen talks about her involvement in the new community opera Silver Birch

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Silver Birch – a newly-commissioned community opera about the toll war takes on soldiers and their families – will be premiering at High Wycombe’s Garsington Opera festival this weekend (28-30 July). Ahead of that Judi Herman spoke to novelist and journalist Jessica Duchen, who has written the libretto for composer Roxanna Panufnik’s score. The performance features the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and, in fact, Sassoon’s great-nephew Stephen Bucknill is singing in the production. Also amid the 180-strong company, two are members of the armed forces and 50 of them are primary school children. Eight-year-old soloist Maia Greaves plays Chloe, the younger sister of the two soldiers at the heart of a story set in the present day, with echoes of the Great War provided by Sassoon’s poetry.

Silver Birch runs Friday 28 – Sunday 30 July. 7.30pm. £5. Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, HP14 3YE. 018 6536 1636. www.garsingtonopera.org

In conversation: Daniel Donskoy

A Song Goes Round the World – first stop Selig Court, Golders Green with singer Daniel Donskoy

Ahead of its run at Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, Daniel Donskoy performed A Song Goes Round the World – his show of European chansons – for the residents of Selig Court. Many of those who live in these independent living apartments on Jewish Care's Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Campus are survivors of Nazi persecution. Donskoy sings in many languages, including Yiddish, to bring people together in a fractured Europe. Judi Herman was there to meet Donskoy and the residents, to hear their stories – and of course Donskoy's glorious vocals, accompanied by MD Inga Davis-Rutter on piano.

A Song Goes Round the World runs Tuesday 25 – Sunday 30 April. 7.30pm, 4pm (Sun only). £18, £16 concs. Upstairs at the Gatehouse, N6 4BD. 020 8340 3488. www.upstairsatthegatehouse.com

Audio tour: Jukebox, Jewkbox!

Listen to a guided audio tour of the Jewish Museum’s exhibition Jukebox, Jewkbox!

 Jewish Museum Hohenems/Dietmar Walser

 Jewish Museum Hohenems/Dietmar Walser

The London Jewish Museum’s curator Joanne Rosenthal takes JR’s arts editor Judi Herman on a guided tour of Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century on Shellac and Vinyl. The exciting interactive exhibition explores 20th century popular culture through shellac and vinyl, celebrating the history of Jewish inventors, musicians, composers, music producers and songwriters, as well as the artistry of the album cover.

Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century On Shellac and Vinyl runs until 16 October at the Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk

NB: This exhibition was developed by the Jewish Museum Hohenems in collaboration with the Jewish Museum Munich and is on a European tour (some material has been specially added just for its showing at the Jewish Museum London).

In conversation: Arthur Smith

ARTHUR SMITH TALKS TO JUDI HERMAN ABOUT HIS NEW SHOW, LEONARD COHEN AND HIS MOTHER

© Credit Here

In the October issue of Jewish Renaissance, Arthur Smith gave Judi Herman the not-so-sweet lowdown on his show, Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen, with which the gravel-voiced wit makes his debut at JW3 in December. Here you can hear an extended version of his conversation with Judi. The two share a love of Leonard Cohen and they compare notes on their mothers, both of whom are living with dementia – indeed Arthur’s mother Hazel has become a vital part of his show.

Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen – The Extended Remix is on Thursday 3 December. 7.30pm. £16-£20. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988. jw3.org.uk

To read Smith's poem about his mother and listen to him reading it, head to the JR blog.

In conversation: Brundibár cast

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.

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. 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. [link to blog]