(JTA) — Shows about the Holocaust and a notorious American antisemitic incident picked up several Tony Award nominations Tuesday morning, as Broadway’s biggest honors made room for a sizable Jewish presence.
Most notably, a revival of the 1998 musical “Parade,” starring Ben Platt as the early-20th-century Jewish lynching victim Leo Frank, scored six nominations, including best revival of a musical and a best actor nod for Platt. Jewish lead actress Micaela Diamond also scored a nomination for playing Leo’s wife Lucille, causing awards presenter Lea Michele to squeal with glee (pun intended) as she read Diamond’s name at the livestreamed nominations ceremony Tuesday morning.
Arriving during a heightened moment of national awareness about antisemitism, “Parade” attracted notice early in its Broadway run when a performance was picketed by neo-Nazis. That incident led to an outpouring of support from Broadway’s Jewish community. Platt himself arrived at last night’s Met Gala wearing a Star of David necklace, further driving home the show’s message.
“Leopoldstadt,” Tom Stoppard’s epic, highly personal play about multiple generations of a Jewish Viennese family before, during and after the Holocaust, also received six nominations, including an expected nod for best play. Brandon Uranowitz also earned a nod for best actor in a featured role in a play, and Patrick Marber scored a best direction nomination; both are Jewish.
Signs were more mixed for another high-profile Jewish production, “The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window,” which eked out two nominations, including best revival of a play. The show, first written by Lorraine Hansberry in 1964 shortly before her death, follows a Jewish bohemian grappling with political and social change in Greenwich Village. It had not been staged on Broadway since its initial run. Neither of its A-list stars, Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan, earned acting nominations, though Miriam Silverman did receive the show’s lone other nomination for her featured role as Isaac’s character’s sister-in-law — who is casually antisemitic.
Besides “Parade,” the musical revival category was dominated by shows with Jewish roots. Also nominated was a new version of the 1960 classic “Camelot,” billed as “Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot” in recognition of the two Jewish Broadway scribes who crafted the initial production, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Written by Aaron Sorkin, who is Jewish, and directed by Bartlett Sher, who learned as a teenager that his father was Jewish, the new “Camelot” had five nominations in total.
Two reinterpretations of Stephen Sondheim standards, “Into The Woods” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” rounded out the category. The pop singer Josh Groban, whose father was Jewish before converting to his mother’s Christianity, was nominated for playing the lead role in “Sweeney Todd,” while Julia Lester, whose great-grandfather was part of a Yiddish theater in Poland, was nominated for her featured role in “Into the Woods.”
The play “Good Night, Oscar,” about the Jewish entertainer Oscar Levant’s struggles with mental illness, picked up three nominations, including for lead actors Sean Hayes and Rachel Hauck. “Death of a Salesman,” a new revival of the classic play by Jewish playwright Arthur Miller, also picked up two nominations.
Jewish actress Jessica Hecht picked up an acting nomination for her lead role in the play “Summer, 1976,” about a lifelong friendship between two women. Hecht is up against several star performers in the category, including Jessica Chastain, Jodie Comer and Audra McDonald.
Among the other nominees was a modern-day musical reimagining of “Some Like It Hot,” the 1959 cross-dressing comedy. The original movie had plenty of Jewish talent: It was directed by Billy Wilder, co-starred Tony Curtis and Jewish convert Marilyn Monroe, and featured recently deceased Jewish character actor Nehemiah Persoff in a small role. The new musical, by Amber Ruffin and Matthew López, led the pack with 13 Tony nominations including best new musical. Veteran Jewish songwriter Marc Shaiman picked up a nomination for co-writing the show’s score.
Another new musical based on a movie, “New York, New York,” also built off of Jewish talent: the songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote the music for the original 1977 film, and Kander is co-credited with Lin-Manuel Miranda for additional music on the new film. “New York, New York” received nine nominations, including best new musical.
The prolific Jewish theater composer Jeanine Tesori had another Broadway hit this year with the musical “Kimberly Akimbo,” which received eight nominations, including one for her music.
The nominations were co-announced Tuesday morning by Michele, who has been the talk of Broadway since she replaced Beanie Feldstein as the lead of the “Funny Girl” revival. Feldstein was snubbed at the Tonys last year amid tepid reviews for her performance in the musical about Jewish comedienne Fanny Brice.
The Tonys will air on CBS and various Paramount-owned streaming services on June 11.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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