Articles written for JEWISH WEEK by Leonard J. Lehrman

A Blitzstein Blitz

Feb. 4, 2000

by Leonard Lehrman

[passages in brackets were cut by the editor]

The music of Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964) is being celebrated at Joe's Pub, at the Public Theater on Lafayette Street, the first three Monday nights of this month (Feb. 7, 14 and 21) at 8:30. Tickets are $20 + a 2-drink minimum. Call (212) 539-8777 or 239-6200.

The American composer, and translator of the Brecht-Weill Threepenny Opera, found his own Jewish soul at the end of his life in what Ned Rorem called "his best work," Tales of Malamud. Soprano Lauren Flanigan, who created the title role at N.Y. City Opera in Hugo Weisgall's Esther, and was most recently seen starring on PBS in NYCO's Central Park, will perform the N.Y. premiere of a ballad Blitzstein created for Kaye Ballard, "Upstairsy."

Together with Brooks Ashmanskas and Malcolm Gets, under the musical direction of Ted Sperling, Victoria Clark will repeat her movie role of Mrs. Mister in the Hotel Lobby Scene of The Cradle Will Rock, parts of which are seen in Tim Robbins' film about Blitzstein's play in music. She will also sing "The Nickel Under the Foot," the key song of the play, and the film, a number which is also being sung by Richard Lalli at Joe's Pub February 3, 4 and 5, in a program presented by Sequitur entitled "Money."

The movie has resulted in a veritable Blitzstein blitz, with programs in January ranging from biographer Eric Gordon at the People's Voice Cafeto the Bronx Opera's production of Regina--three scenes from which open and close the Monday programs at Joe's Pub.

A program including songs of Blitzstein will be sung by Helene Williams Sunday afternoon, February 13, at 2:30 in a free concert at the Westbury Memorial Public Library in Westbury, Long Island. Call (516) 333-0176 for directions. [That program will also include the N.Y. premiere of "The Richest Man in Town," a song originally written for Fiddler on the Roof but replaced with the more energetic "Miracle of Miracles" and not sung since Austin Pendleton sang it in the out-of-town tryout in Detroit.]