NJT, Jewish Film Fest plan celebration of Yiddish theater

Michael Tilson Thomas is pictured in front of a photograph of his grandmother, Bessie Thomashefsky.

The New Jewish Theatre and the Jewish Film Festival are teaming up to present a celebration of Yiddish theater at 7 p.m. Monday, April 30 in the Performing Arts Center of the Jewish Community Center.  The evening will be hosted by St. Louis Post-Dispatch theater critic Judith Newmark, who will open the evening with a brief history of Yiddish theater, followed by a screening of “The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater.” If time permits, Newmark will host a brief Q & A session after the film. The video is written and narrated by Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony in Miami.  He wrote the show as a tribute to his grandparents, famed Yiddish theater stars Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky.

The video features Tilson Thomas leading the New World Symphony Orchestra in a musical tribute along with actors Judy Blazer and Shuler Hensley portraying his well-known grandparents. It features music reconstructed from the original Yiddish theater repertoire interwoven with projected images and dramatized stories from Bessie and Boris’s lively memoirs. It’s all presented with personal affection and wry humor that brings his grandparents back to life and salutes their remarkable spirit and legacy. 

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The live stage version of The Thomashefskys has been performed to sold-out houses in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, and at the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts. The stage version was filmed in April of 2011 in Miami with the New World Symphony and edited for a PBS Great Performances program. 

Tickets are $15 and include popcorn. They are available at  www.brownpapertickets.com/event/240829 or through the NJT box office at 314-442-3283. Copies of the DVD will be available for purchase.