University blocks honour over Tony Kushner's Israel stance

By Jennifer Lipman, May 4, 2011

Tony Kushner will not be honoured with an honorary degree after a New York university cancelled plans because of the award-winning Jewish playwright's stance on Israel.

After one of the City University of New York (CUNY) board members objected to the institution celebrating Mr Kushner's career at its commencement ceremony later this year, the rest of the board voted against the plans.


Interview: Amy Rosenthal

April 7, 2011

'They gave me liberation," says Amy Rosenthal who is sitting outside the Hampstead Theatre on a blustery afternoon, sipping green tea.

It was here in 2008 that Rosenthal's DH Lawrence biopic On the Rocks became a rare success for the venue in the days before the theatre's current artistic director Edward Hall took over.


Barmitzvah boy funds Broadway musical on Liberty

By Jennifer Lipman, April 6, 2011

A barmitzvah boy has found an unusual solution to all the money he was given by guests at his party – he has donated it to the producers of a Broadway musical about immigrants.

New York teenager Jesse Naranjo is to use the more than £1,600 he was given following the ceremony last year to help send "Liberty: The Musical" to a major theatre.


West End debut for new David Mamet drama

By Jennifer Lipman, April 1, 2011

The award winning American Jewish writer David Mamet is to première his latest play in the West End this autumn.

Set in a prison, The Anarchist tells the story of a female activist's fight with a prison governor to have her life sentence reduced.


On this day: Stephen Sondheim is born

By Jennifer Lipman, March 22, 2011

Name a popular or successful musical that appeared on Broadway or in the West End in the last 50 years, and there’s a high chance it will be one written by Stephen Sondheim.

Born in New York City, he had a troubled upbringing but at the age of nine fell in love with the theatre after seeing a production of Oscar Hammerstein II’s Very Warm for May.


London date for Rosenthal's Barmitzvah Boy play

By Jennifer Lipman, February 18, 2011

Jack Rosenthal’s play about making the Barmitzvah Boy musical, Smash! is to be shown on a London stage for the first time.

The Bafta-award winning playwright, who died of cancer in 2004, wrote the comedy Smash! after struggling to turn his hit television drama into a musical.

The tale of a Jewish boy’s apprehension about the ceremony made it to the stage in 1978, two years after it appeared on the BBC.


Glee star Idina Menzel to play wedding singer

By Jennifer Lipman, December 1, 2010

Jewish Broadway favourite Idina Menzel is to star as a Barmitzvah singer in a new television series.

The actress, recently on screen as Rachel Berry’s estranged mother in Glee, is to start filming the as-yet untitled series next year, for it to air in autumn.

Ms Menzel will play a single mother and the show will look at her relationship with her daughter as well as her professional life as a waitress and part-time wedding singer.


Lloyd Dorfman's £10 million theatre donation

By Jennifer Lipman, October 28, 2010

A Jewish businessman has announced a £10 million donation to the National Theatre.

The gift, from Travelex founder Lloyd Dorfman, will go towards the theatre’s Future redevelopment fund.

Mr Dorfman, 57, has been involved in the National Theatre, on London’s South Bank, for several years and is a member of its board.

The Cottesloe Theatre will be renamed the Dorfman Theatre to mark the donation.


Fiddler on the Roof writer dies

By Jennifer Lipman, October 27, 2010

The writer behind the stage and screen versions of the musical Fiddler on the Roof has died at the age of 98.

Playwright Joseph Stein, who won a prestigious Tony award in 1965 for the Broadway hit, had been suffering from prostate cancer. He died in New York.

Born to Polish immigrants to New York, he worked with Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, and wrote for both radio and television.


Why this Jewish dancer turned down Billy Elliott

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2010

For a young ballet dancer, the part of Billy Elliott might seem like a dream role. But for 16-year-old Mexican dancer Esteban Hernandez, Broadway fame came second to serious training with the Royal Ballet.

"When I got the role on Broadway, I was still very young, I was 14," he said. "Those years are the formative ones for a ballet dancer. It's so important to have good training.