The musical is playing at Circle in the Square, located at 1633 Broadway at 50th street. It runs two hour and forty minutes with one intermission. This is an open ended show.
This is a true story of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. He was a “Rock Star Rabbi” or otherwise known as “The Singing Rabbi” of the 1960’s. Soul Doctor played briefly off Broadway last summer as a guest attraction of the New York Theatre Workshop. Eric Anderson received a Drama Desk nomination for his off Broadway performance. He was recently in the ensemble of Kinky Boots.
The story starts with Nina Simone (Amber Iman) introducing him to the audience at a Vienna concert. What follows is his life story and how he got to be known as the singing rabbi.
His family including his parents and brother leave Vienna in 1938 because of the Nazi occupation. They settle in Brooklyn, New York. His father (Jamie Jackson) forms his own congregation in the basement of a store. As children Shlomo (Eric Anderson) and his brother Eli (Ryan Strand) rebel against the strict teaching of the Orthodox religion. Eli follows the Hasidic Judaism while Shlomo is unsure which direction he will go in. He becomes a rabbi but he is restless.
A chance meeting with Nina Simone in a jazz club changes his life. She encourages him to do what he wants. He moves to Berkeley, California in 1966 for a Rock Festival. He then goes to San Francisco Bay area to save Jewish souls. Shlomo move to Israel, marries and has a child. His traveling and giving his earnings to people in need puts a strain on his marriage that cannot be fixed.
Eric Anderson is mesmerizing as Shlomo. He is so convincing in the role. It’s as if the character has absorbed his soul.
Amber Iman is touching as Nina Simone. She has a beautiful voice.
This is an enjoyable show. The cast comes down the aisles singing and dancing in the style of “Hair”, it’s the same generation. Some of the cast have several roles in the musical.
If you know something about the Jewish religion you will have a better understanding on what is happening. It doesn’t have as much impact if you don’t. But there is nothing to stop you from enjoying the show. It was good.
It was so well done that it sparked my interest to learn more about Shlomo and Nina. According to what I read they took liberties about Shlomo life. So, what else is new. Hoy Vay.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos. Click recent photos for this and other shows.