CUNY WELCOMES BACK NATIONAL YIDDISH THEATRE –
FOLKSBIENE FOR 2ND SEASON OF FREE SHOWS

CLAIRE BARRY AND ROBERT ABELSON HEADLINE FIRST OF THREE PRODUCTIONS THAT WILL TOUR FOUR CUNY CAMPUSES BEGINNING OCTOBER 14 AND RUNNING THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

FREE SHOWS IN BOTH YIDDISH AND ENGLISH MAKE YIDDISH MUSIC AND THEATRE ACCESSIBLE TO A NEW AUDIENCE

(September 24, 2007) Yiddish recording legend Claire Barry and City Opera great Robert Abelson star in “Chiri Biri Bim Bam,” the first of three shows presented through May at the City University of New York that will introduce the enduring magic of Yiiddish music and theatre to a new audience. For the second year in a row CUNY is hosting New York’s venerable National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene to present a season of free, open-to-the-public performances at four CUNY colleges — Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Lehman College and Queens College. The performances, running in October, March and May, will include a staged reading of a classic musical folk play, a celebration of Yiddish humor and the Barry/Abelson concert, which performs on Sunday October 14 at 2pm (at Queens College), Monday October 15 at 7pm (at Hunter College), Wednesday October 17 at 4pm (at Lehman College) and Thursday October 18 at 2pm (at Brooklyn College).

All shows — featuring some of the most celebrated and accomplished actors performing in Yiddish today — are are made fully accessible to non-Yiddish speakers through the use of simultaneous supertitles in both English & Russian.

(While these events are free, tickets will be issued, except at Queens College, which is open admission. To order tickets contact the box offices of the corresponding campuses. Numbers are listed below.)

The Drama Desk Award-winning National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene is the longest continuously producing Yiddish theatre in the world and America’s sole-surviving professional Yiddish theatre. The series helps inaugurate the internationally recognized company’s 93rd consecutive season.

“Chiri Biri Bim Bam: Yiddish Song from Roots to Pop,” a brand new concert starring Claire Barry, Robert Abelson and Heather Klein, traces the history of Yiddish music from

its earliest days to the height of its popularity. The 90-minute show is curated and narrated by Zalmen Mlotek, the internationally recognized Yiddish music expert, composer and conductor. Barry grew up on the Lower East Side, and, with her sister, the late Myrna Barry, became one of the most celebrated Yiddish recording stars of the 20th century. Under contract with RCA Records, The Barry Sisters had many hits in the 30’s and 40’s. Perhaps the biggest, “Bei Mir Bist du Shein” (also recorded by The Andrews Sisters), is considered a touchstone of the World War II swing era. By the 1950’s The Barry Sisters had crossed-over to genuine mainstream and international stardom making numerous appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and landmark concert appearances in the Soviet Union. The Brooklyn-bred Abelson has appeared on Broadway and on concert stages all over the world. The lifetime New Yorker, who spent many seasons with the New York City Opera, is a cantor and teacher, serving currently on the faculty of the Hebrew Union College’s School of Sacred Music. The concert is in English and Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles.

In March, Folksbiene goes for the yuks in “A Vitsl un a Kitsl: A Celebration of Yiddish Humor.” This brand new show features some of the funniest and most memorable comedy routines and songs made famous by such legends of Yiddish vaudeville as Sholem Aleichem, Dzigan and Shumacher, Mikhl Rosenberg and Molly Picon. In Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles.

In May, under the music direction of Zalmen Mlotek, the Folksbiene troupe brings S. Gershonson’s musical folk play “Hershele Ostropolyer” to thrilling life in a staged musical reading that tells the story of the beloved folk hero, Hershele from Ostropol, a Yiddish Robin Hood who uses his wits to battle injustice. The script, adapted by Josef Glikson, is in Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles.

Campus addresses and box office phone numbers for the CUNY venues:

Hunter College, Kaye Playhouse, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 212-772-4448

Queens College, Colden Auditorium, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 718-793-8080

Brooklyn College, Whitman Theater, 2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 718-951-4500

Lehman College, Lovinger Theater, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx NY 718-960-8025

All CUNY-Folksbiene shows are free to the public, but tickets must be ordered in advance by calling the above listed phone numbers.

At 93, The National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene, which the NY Post called “one of the city’s most remarkable cultural institutions,” champions a two-fold mission: to be the custodian of a rich cultural legacy, while developing new works to add to this legacy. For more details call 212/213-2120 or visit www.folksbiene.org.