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Michael Tilson Thomas: The Thomashefskys
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"My grandparents became mega-stars," Michael Tilson Thomas remembers, "and found themselves smack in the public eye. Legions of crazed fans were obsessed with every detail of their work and their lives. It was a far cry from the simple Jewish family life in the Ukrainian villages of their origin." In THE THOMASHEFSKYS, Tilson Thomas explores the lives of his grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, through a musical performance that features five performers and the New World Symphony orchestra.
Founding members of the Yiddish Theatre in America, the Thomashefskys owned theatres, published their own magazine, wrote columns in the popular Yiddish newspapers, sponsored and encouraged generations of young artists, brought countless Yiddish artists to America, tirelessly raised funds for progressive social causes and, through it all, were adventurous trendsetters. This story, reclaimed by Thomashefsky Project, presents a musical sound that few have heard, assimilating Eastern European klezmer and cantorial modes with American tones and rhythms. Over time, as the Jewish American music theater writers became absorbed in their new surroundings, they greatly influenced the American Songbook. All of this and more are captured in this stunning performance.
- Collectible, illustrated 16-page booklet
- Full-length versions of Rumshinsky's Overture to Khantshe in Amerike
- Overture and "Babkelekh" from Goldfaden's Koldunye
- The Minke on the Telephone Monologue from Minke di dinstmoyd
- The Construction of New World Center
- The New World Symphony Story
- Michael Tilson Thomas on the Thomashefskys
Top Customer Reviews
Tilson Thomas serves as both the principle narrator and the orchestra conductor for this homage to the "Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater." While relating personal stories can be dull, Tilson Thomas and company put on a show worthy of the Thomashefskys. Around his anecdotes, actors and singers stage significant parts of the journey. Judy Blazer is quite appealing as Bessie and Shuler Hensley (who I last saw as the monster in Broadway's Young Frankenstein) is charming, but purposefully blustery, as Boris. As the two come together and really give birth to the Yiddish Theater in America, the presentation is interesting from a factual standpoint but complete entertainment as well.Read more ›
Now the music - the history of the Yiddish theatre and hearing the music -as a lover of musicals, operettas, some opera and classical (as well as other music), I could hear and see what influences are in the genre today. As I listen to the music, I could hear elements of Jerry Herman, Gershwin's use of solo instruments giving the feeling of being alone and individual before the crowd of instruments pour into the music, and Fiddler on the Roof even Hello Dolly! had an aura that reminded me of MTT's grandmother. Of course Yentil, Funny Girl and Funny Lady and elements of Albert Nodds are stories his grandmother was a part of first with the help of his grandfather producing and often writing her in.
Even politically hearing her song of a woman president and women's rights was a joy and these lyrics are a strong reminder for me in this political year of 2012.
MTT has invited all of us to this - please as you get your invite, drop by and bring the leftovers home or in this case get the DVD and enjoy it again and again.
It is charming...it is informative...it is entertaining. But I can't quite give it 5 stars because the two performers whom he selected to play his grandparents just don't have "that" special something that make performances mesmerizing. Actually, the deep, melodic voice of Boris Thomashefsky can be heard in the CD "Memories of Yiddish Theater." And for more great music of this genre, pick anything with Molly Picon, try the CD of "Bruce Adler An Evening at the Yiddish Theatre", or get the marvelous CD of "Theodore Bikel Treasury of Yiddish Theatre & Folk Songs".
Jewish theater is a fascinating subject. My favorite books on the topic are "Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater" [which depicts the extraordinary attention to the staging of these plays - including Shakespeare in Yiddish] and the autobiography of the stage star Herman Yablokoff titled "Der Payatz". One thing is certain, Boris Thomashefsky and his Yiddish Theatrical Alliance bought a large graveplot so that all the New York Yiddish theatre greats could rest in peace...together.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
WONDERFUL BIOGRAPHICAL stage
Wonderful PBS theatrical and musical production of the history of the true founders of musical theatre in New York.
We viewed this program at our Coastside Jewish Community movie night. It was a huge success. Members who couldn't attend are in line to borrow it!Published 12 months ago by Diann Chethik, LCSW
Just loved it! Uplifting beautiful production of music and theatre of days gone-by.Published 18 months ago by rami salomon
Full of heart and history. MTT is a gem of a host (also a pretty good performer!).The cast is outstanding. I enjoyed every second of the two-hour show..Published 19 months ago by juana,setenta
Saw this on public television and had to have a copy. Loved the music and the story.
I loved it when it first was on PBS. Loved it on DVD. My only complaint is that subtitles would have been nice.Published on January 13, 2014 by Lynn Freedman
A masterpiece! So professionally done. So enlightening. So educational. The music was magnificent. The Tomashefsky's would be proud of their grandson, Michael Tilson Thomas!Published on October 27, 2013 by Sally
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