Thoroughly engaging and endearing from the moment he steps on stage, Jake Ehrenreich brings his critically acclaimed A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN to the beautiful Annenberg Theater for a limited engagement through March 25 and my advice – RUN, DON'T WALK! This is a "must see" theatrical event.
Ehrenreich is a multi-talented American born child of Holocaust survivors and for a solid two hours and forty-five minutes he sings, he reminisces, he tells jokes, he tell stories – but the biggest "take-away" of the evening is that each of our individual "life journeys" are much more similar than they are different. He challenges us to focus on the "things for which we are grateful" and it is doubtful that anyone could walk out of the theatre inspired to do anything but that.
Through stories and comedy and music, performed with a live band and multi-media video and photos, Jake recreates his unforgettable journey of discovery and life lessons learned. His parents and his two sisters spent the war years in Nazi War Camps --- his parents had eight Brothers and Sisters between them, and after the war – none. He talks candidly about the "shattered people and a culture destroyed" after the war and the difficulties of his parents, and all survivors, "living again and laughing again" and the courage necessary to rebuild their lives and identities in America. He masterfully took the audience from tears to laughter and back again --- but through it all the tone of the show is never maudlin – it is truly one of the most uplifting evenings one could spend in the theatre.
Ehrenreich is a wonderful storyteller and tremendously charming. He has become the master of "schtick" and delivers punch lines as well as any of the celebrated comedians that came out of The Catskills – a time and place that he lovingly brings to life onstage in story, song and stand-up.
Perhaps the best moments in the show are when he sings the gentle Hebrew lullabyes he remembers from his childhood and when he speaks with such deep admiration about his father. Even though very polished, the show never seems "over-rehearsed" or affected. It is genuine, heartfelt and honest from beginning to end.
Ehrenreich has appeared on Broadway in "Dancin", "Barnum" and "They're Playing Our Song." He has also performed Yiddish music in two Off-Broadway productions, "Songs of Paradise" and "The Golden Land. About the show, he has said "I don't want to bring people too far into the black hole of the Holocaust, If people in the audience laugh it means that they trust me not just to take them to a more serious place, but to bring them out and make them joyous and grateful when they leave."?
The only disappointment of the evening was that the audience was not larger. Hopefully I can inspire people to flock to the Annenberg in droves, just as Jake has inspired me not to take for granted the blessings in my own life, in honor of those who perished in such a tragic act of inhumanity.
Tickets for this show are $50. Tickets can be purchased at www.annenbergtheater.org or by calling the theater Box Office at 760-325-4490.