Stars of David

by Abigail Pogrebin, Charles Busch
directed by Gordon Greenberg
originally produced at Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia, PA.
October 17, 2012 through November 18, 2012

About the Premiere Production:

In October 2012, PTC will produce Stars of David, a world premiere musical based upon Abigail Pogrebin’s best-selling collection of interviews of the same name, which chronicles how prominent Jewish figures perceive their faith in their professional and personal lives. Each interview is being adapted by a Tony-Award winning composer and woven into the musical’s overarching theme of identity and discovery. Because it is an adaptation of a book of interviews, the structure of Stars of David will be unique – a series of stories connected by a through-line that will resonate with audiences of all faiths.

Artistic Statement

Stars of David has an ensemble cast of five and a small orchestra. The interviews take place with some of America’s most recognizable public figures, including Gloria Steinem, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., Joan Rivers, Wendy Wasserstein, Tony Kushner, Norman Lear, Aaron Sorkin and others, provide a snapshot of Jewish identity today.

The story line includes Diane, a non-practicing and tough minded New York Jewish reporter and single mother who has been assigned by her editor to interview several prominent Jews about what being Jewish means to them. By the time her assignment is over, Diane has undergone a transformation about life, faith and what it means to be Jewish that changes her perspective and deepens her bond with her pre-teen daughter.

Some of the Interviewee/composer-lyricist pairings include: • Wendy Wasserstein/William Finn (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) • Ruth Bader Ginsburg/Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) • Andy Cohen (President of Bravo Network)/Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) • Kenneth Cole/Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) • Gloria Steinam/Jeanine Tesori and Susan Birkenhead (Caroline, or Change) • Aaron Sorkin/Richard Maltby and David Shire • Fran Drescher/Amanda Green • Tony Kushner/Michael Friedman

Artistic Director’s Statement- Sara Garonzik: Stars of David with its brave, humorous and truthful content, provides a forum for more integrated discussion (for our Jewish and non-Jewish audiences) about identity and faith. We have developed it at a time when our culture has reached a turning point in how we talk about faith and heritage. The public figures depicted in this project are revisionists for their faith and they reveal how they are affected by a belief system---and not how religion speaks for them. Being Jewish is a component of their identity, but not the sum total of themselves. Aesthetically, Stars also represents an extraordinary collection of brilliant songs by America’s finest composers, all writing at the peak of their gifts. The perfect pairing of composer to interview subject is a work of art unto itself and represents a unified vision among author Abigail Pogrebin, director Gordon Greenberg and librettist Charles Busch. Soulful, funny and thought-provoking, Stars of David was fortunate in having received Edgerton support. We were able to spend more time in the rehearsal room which is a wise investment for a brand new work that we think will have a long and happy life in the USA and perhaps beyond.

Grant Statement

This award has allowed Philadelphia Theatre Company to provide one additional week of rehearsal.

At PTC, we place a high value on new work, even in challenging economic times, and we feel that it is essential that new plays and musicals, which are core to our mission, be given prominent placement in our season. To this end, we look forward to opening our 2012/2013 season with Stars of David, which will engage our current audience and help us to draw new audiences into the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. In addition, we feel that this timing will help us to support the future life of the play because potential producers will be able to come to see the work before they begin their planning for the 2013/2014 season.

Director: Gordon Greenberg
Set Design: Beowulf Baritt
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Sound Design: Robert Kaplowitz
Costume Design: Alejo Vietti
Choreographer: Jeff Rhodes
Musical Director: Jeff Marder
Musical Supervisor: Sam David
Projection Designer: Jason H. Thompson
Cast: Nancy Balbirer, Alex Brightman, Joanna Glushak, Brad Oscar, Donna Vivino

Additional Funders:

The Peter Arger and Donald Wilf New Play Fund; Nancy & David Coleman; Marcy Gringlas & Joel Greenberg; Phyllis & Howard Fischer; Fran & Leon L. Levy; Lynn &Joseph Manko

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