“MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: THE THOMASHEFSKYS”
Live Musical Broadcast available April 24 on DVD and Digital Following PBS “Great Performances” Television Premiere
“Thomas and his collaborators do what Yiddish artists always meant to do. They make you forget your troubles for an evening, plunge into another world and feel your own more fully in the end.” –San Francisco Chronicle
March 21, 2012 – New York, New York –“Tonight we’re here to tell you a story. It’s the story of Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, two kids from little shtetls in the middle of the Ukrainian nowhere who came to America and became the founders and pioneers of the American Yiddish Theater… they also happened to be my grandparents.”
So begins MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: THE THOMASHEFSKYS, written, hosted and conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. A live performance recorded in April 2011 at the New World Center in Miami with the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, THE THOMASHEFSKYS presents the life stories of Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, founding members of the Yiddish Theater in America. The Thomashefskys owned theaters, published their own magazine, wrote columns in the popular Yiddish newspapers, sponsored and encouraged generations of young artists, brought countless Yiddish artists to America, tirelessly raised funds for progressive social causes and, through it all, were adventurous trendsetters.
Created in association with The Thomashefsky Project, THE THOMASHEFSKYS stage show has been performed to sold-out houses in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, at Carnegie Hall in New York, and at the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts. Directed by Broadway veteran, Patricia Birch, who created the work with Tilson Thomas, it features music reconstructed from the original Yiddish theater repertoire interwoven with projected images and dramatized stories from Bessie and Boris’s lively memoirs. Tilson Thomas hosts the performances with personal affection and wry humor that brings his grandparents back to life and salutes their remarkable spirit and legacy.
The story is woven together through the music and songs of the Yiddish theater, showcasing a musical sound that assimilates Eastern European klezmer and cantorial modes with American tones and rhythms. Over time, as the Jewish American music theater writers became absorbed in their new surroundings, they greatly influenced the American Songbook and this legacy is also captured in this stunning performance.
Judy Blazer and Shuler Hensley star as Bessie and Boris Thomashefsky. Ronit Widmann-Levy and Eugene Brancoveanu play supporting roles. The broadcast, The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater – premiering on March 29 on PBS’ “Great Performances” series at 8:00 PM (check local listings), is directed by Gary Halverson; Joshua Robison, Michael Bronson and Michael Kantor, producers. DVD extras include additional music performances, an interview with Tilson Thomas, and a feature on the New World Symphony, which was founded in 1987 by Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison.
MICHAEL TILSON THOMAS: THE THOMASHEFSKYS
Pricing: $29.95 US/$34.95 CAN
Runtime: 135 mins. + extras
Catalog #: NNVG268540
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo
Genre: Documentary, Music
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