Tuesday, February 16, 2021

"Promise of America: A Celebration of Jewish American Song" streaming from Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company

Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company's 2020-2021 "Theater Six Feet Apart" season continues with another virtual offering. Promise of America: A Celebration of Jewish American Song premiered last weekend and is available to stream at specific times through February 21. The cabaret show features songs from musical theater and popular culture by Jewish American composers, as well as a bit of history and commentary provided by the cast and creators. Of course, one hour is not nearly enough to showcase the incredible contributions to 20th Century music by Jewish Americans, but it's a great sampler, from the Gershwins to Carole King to Nassim Black.

The show was created by Artistic Director Barbara Brooks and Kevin Dutcher, who also directs, music directs, and provides accompaniment. They and the cast provide introductions to the songs and composers we hear. More or less chronologically, we musically traverse the 20th Century, from pop to Broadway and back again. It's a well-curated selection of songs, with some interesting and different arrangements that make them sound fresh, yet familiar. Dramaturg Jo Holcomb provided the text between songs that really tie them all together to tell a cohesive story.

Cast members Kim Kivens, Ben Dutcher, Aimee K. Bryant, and Al Church (who also plays in the band for some songs) recorded their performances in what looks like a studio in front of a red curtain, but separately, while the intros were recorded from home. Thanks to the editing (by Ryan Melling), there's no sense of separation among the performers, and we still get some beautiful harmonies provided by this super talented cast. One hour is the perfect length for a show like this, and it's entertaining from start to finish.

Aimee K. Bryant, Kim Kivens, and Ben Dutcher