Already closed | 1h 30m | Lower E Side

jazz singer

From 20 member  reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Confusing, Relevant, Absorbing, Thought-provoking

About the show

Abrons Arts Center presents this theatrical exhumation of the first feature-length "sound film,” "The Jazz Singer." More…

From the show:

jazz singer is a theatrical exhumation of the first feature-length “sound film” The Jazz Singer, reinterpreted by Joshua William Gelb and Nehemiah Luckett. Set on the Lower East Side, the 1927 film tells the story of a “jazz crooner” forced to choose between his immigrant Jewish heritage and his aspirations to become a Broadway star. Though the film is historically significant for its integration of synchronized sound, it is also remembered for its controversial use of blackface. Gelb and Luckett’s musical rendering offers a contemporary take on a distinctly U.S. American story, one that interrogates appropriation, assimilation, atonement, and whether escape from the specter of blackface is possible.

Member Reviews (20)


Ambitious, Confusing, Relevant, Absorbing, Thought-provoking
Avg Score

Surprising, Great singing, Advanced discussion, Grappling, Intelligent

See it if you find meaning in classics even if they’re grossly inappropriate now. Smart, investigative show that weighs homage w/ critical thinking.

Don't see it if you want permission to excuse or celebrate blackface. You dislike actors playing themselves & competing perspectives in multiple timeframes.

Also Really liked this. Also loved Gelb’s The Black Crook. Both shows are i... Read more Read less

Intense, Relevant, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if you will be absorbed by a complex and intricate theatrical piece about challenging multi-layered historical subject matter

Don't see it if you want a straight forward narrative, or don't want to be challenged to think outside the box

Also This show is well worth seeing for the elaborate and incredible use of... Read more Read less

Confusing, Overrated, Good singing

See it if You enjoy learning more about history of the 1927 film The Jazz Singer and don't care about a linear plot

Don't see it if You aren't interested in jazz or the movie The Jazz Singer and want to see a play with a traditional, linear style.

Ambitious, Confusing

See it if you enjoy seeing non-traditional theater "adapted" from the film The Jazz Singer.

Don't see it if you want to see a traditional musical or play.

Also The show is in two parts (no intermission). In the first part the acto... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if you like music in plays

Don't see it if you need a clear plot outline

Intelligent, Entertaining, Edgy, Confusing

See it if you want something unconventional and different; like thought-provoking analysis of the black and the Jewish experience

Don't see it if you don't like live and old-timey recorded jazz music! Or need something linear and easy to follow

Also you don't need to be familiar with movie to enjoy this production (but... Read more Read less

Clever, Experimental, Entertaining, Great singing, Ambitious

See it if you like a drama with good singing and are interested in old movies.

Don't see it if you expect swingy jazz music. It's good music but you don't get swing.

Confusing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You are interested in film history and issues concerning race. You don't mind a bit of a mishmash as long as it's interesting.

Don't see it if you want a rigorously worked show that integrates its perspectives into something meaningful. you are seeking a deeply emotional experinece

Absorbing, Edgy, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You’re interested in The Jazz Singer and the role of blackface in the making of the film.

Don't see it if You want a straightforward musical.

Intense, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Confusing

See it if If you liked the original movie and discussions about black face or if you like live musicians acting out a silent movie.

Don't see it if If you find actors playing themselves/other characters at present/previous time periods to be confusing.

Ambitious, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You appreciate film history, and old NYC culture and the career of Al Jolson, and don't mind necessary ruminations about race and religion.

Don't see it if Experimental shows about race/religion/ancient film history rubs you the wrong way.

Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Edgy, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you are up for an examination of race and identity, and a grappling with our country's history of blackface minstrelsy in entertainment.

Don't see it if you want to sit back and be entertained. This challenges you and requires you to think. It's wonderful!

Relevant, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if This was a complex show about difficult topics. It dealt with race and identity - nuanced. I loved the music and projections as well.

Don't see it if You don’t want to think about culturally challenging issues and ideas.

During previews
Timely, Relevant, Absorbing, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You like avant-garde theatre. This is an interesting look at an old dated work through the lens of today’s sensitivities. Great singing.

Don't see it if You want your entertainment served up to you without much thinking involved. This takes some work in your part to follow and interpret.

Also There was some phenomenal talent on stage tonight! The show itself mig... Read more Read less

During previews
Great staging, Artistic, Confusing, Great singing, Thought-provoking

See it if Excellent musical performances amidst a crescendo of angst in the 2nd act. Interesting historical dive into the movie. Cool layered staging

Don't see it if Slow, intellectual 1st act as the artists research the film, and ponder issues of cultural appropriation & racism. Jerky non-linear cuts.

During previews
Ambitious, Relevant, Intelligent, Great staging, Absorbing

See it if you want avant garde theater that's quite attainable & performed by a multi talented cast - do not miss it .Part 2 is fascinating.

Don't see it if you are looking for a linear play or musical, this will not be for you.

Also If you have knowledge of the famous Al Jolsen silent film, you will en... Read more Read less

During previews
Relevant, Great staging, Great singing, Great acting, Delightful

See it if intrigued by reconciliation of historic iconic film/Al Jolson with modern sensibilities/guilt about minstrel black face show, antisemitism

Don't see it if you have a short attention span or poor hearing, need linear plots, cannot tolerate strobe lights, loud music, blackface, antiJewish comment

Also The writers/actors/singers/producers are brilliant and gifted. They ta... Read more Read less

During previews
Fresh, exploratory, mixed-bag, great singing

See it if you have a fascination with the movie, the period of racial boundaries, or contemporary exploration of how one feels about any of the above

Don't see it if you expect 1.5 hrs of jazz, don't like small, non-flashy productions, are anti-jazz

During previews
Absorbing, Great staging, Great singing, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want to think about the setting of the first talkie "The Jazz Singer", about racism & anti-semitism, paired with phenomenal live music.

Don't see it if you don't want to think in the theater but only be entertained. If you only can handle linear plots and not jump around strobe-like fashion.

Also Jazz Singer offers an interesting and relevant discussion about today'... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Entertaining, Clever, Ambitious

See it if you would like a deconstruction and reconstruction of a pop culture icon, with interesting music and entertaining writing

Don't see it if you are put off by a stage production about a proposed stage production of a classic film

September 29th, 2019
"‘jazz singer’ Looks to Complicate a Film’s Fraught History: A director and a composer play versions of themselves in a fascinating but frustrating reconsideration of a movie infamous for its use of blackface."
read more

Related content

Cast & Creatives (3)