59E59's genre-bending music-theater hybrid starring Klezmer-folk sensation Ben Caplan is about how to love after being broken by the horrors of war. More…
Inspired by the true stories of two Jewish Romanian refugees coming to Canada in 1908, 'Old Stock' is a high-energy concert woven together with a humorously dark folktale about refugees who get out before it's too late, and those who get out after it's too late. And it's about looking into the eyes of God.
"Caplan is the dazzling centerpiece of the creative and unforgettable tale...This performance piece is brilliantly moving and often riotously funny, an emotional juxtaposition of humanity and humor that deepens the experience...Caplan is a profound performer, who can swing between humor and gravity with ease, and here his incredible gifts are on display...A beautifully structured piece – go to see it for Caplan’s magnificent abilities to transport and uplift you." Full Review
"There's no other production like it. Compelling storytelling and outstanding music bring to life the stirring tale...Caplan's spirited performance displays his amazing versatility as a musician and a storyteller. Mary Fay Coady as Chaya and Jamie Kronick as Chaim bring genuine depth and some humor to their roles...An enthralling story for our times. Chaim and Chaya's enduring faith and hope for the future are the values held by millions...Experience this unique theatrical marvel." Full Review
"The Wanderer is the soul, casting a spell that captures your emotions...The deft direction by Barry keeps the journey fluid, never wasting a glance or movement... Moscovitch presents a script that is clear, concise, and colored with empathy but never sentimental...The entire creative team has created a remarkable experience that could only be accomplished with true theatrical collaboration. This is a not-to-be-missed theatrical event everyone should behold." Full Review
"It is a quiet and bittersweet family saga that is full of soft humor, sweet joy, dark despair, and blessed hope. It is also underpinned with a diverse musical score that runs the gamut from klezmer to jazz to Hebraic melodies of faith, all blended into what its effusive narrator calls a 'Yiddishkeit music thing'...Not some Canadian version of 'Fiddler on the Roof'...'Old Stock' has a great deal more to say about the realities of the immigrant experience...A remarkable journey." Full Review
"Caplan comes across as a life force that keeps the story spinning, but the gentle characterizations of Chaim and Chaya set the stage for a sensitive look into their relationship and ensuing struggles to make a new life. It is almost too obvious to point to the timeliness of such a show...There is a lovely unity formed by the integration of music and acting, and the cast merits high commendation, as do the show’s creators." Full Review
"A show that defies genre yet sweeps you up in emotional storytelling...A superbly performed melting pot of musical theater, play-with-music, and concert, the show bursts with klezmer-inspired song...The intimate story of these two, and the sweep of this cleverly artful, thoroughly entertaining, and sometimes raunchy recounting, seem to imply hope nonetheless...'Old Stock' is full of wonder and charm and eminently worth seeing." Full Review
"The coming-to-America story has been worked over so many times...However, the resourceful people behind 'Old Stock' have found all sorts of ways to freshen it up...Has a structure and narrative method all its own...Economically, almost elliptically, written...Something positively Brechtian about this two-part then-and-now structure...Could have gone wrong in all sorts of ways. Yet it succeeds...It's a deeply moving saga, made more so by the fact that it is never over." Full Review
"A work of mingled genres and strong flavors...By and large Mr. Caplan is a noisy treasure...Overwritten, the book and lyrics both. It’s alternately sentimental and lewd and strains too hard for universality, spelling out its metaphors in marquee lights...Still, it succeeds. A near catastrophe teaches Chaim and Chaya to care for each other, and it teaches us to care for them, too." Full Review
"Shows about immigrants are hardly new ground in theater, but they’re seldom as bewitching as the Canadian import 'Old Stock.' This quirky one-act musical—more like a concert with accompanying dialogue—uses playwright Moscovitch’s Jewish-Romanian great-grandparents’ refugee romance in early-20th-century Montreal as the framework for a series of rollicking neo-klezmer songs...Caplan sells this old family folktale as our collective history." Full Review
"Weatherstone and Coady bring the unlikely and mismatched couple alive in performances that allow memory to leak across moments of joy, fear and anger...The most crucial element is the singing and dancing narrator of the show, played by Caplan...His exuberant performance blows the musical out of the dark waters of its painful story and brings in intellectual parody and social commentary alongside its musical range and eclecticism...Moscovitch draws her characters with a sure touch." Full Review
"Would be much better with a bit less of the ubiquitous Caplan…and more emphasis on having Weatherstone and Coady enact the Moscovitch story, so much of which is Caplan's responsibility…It's a well-performed musical celebration of a particular refugee couple's experience, one roughly similar to countless others. Many, I'm sure, will find the show deeply moving. I admit it mostly missed my heartstrings but I could hear it zinging those of my refugee plus-one." Full Review
"Weatherstone and Coady are just Jewish enough to be believable. Happily they do not move into the swarmy stereotypes that overwhelm us with fabricated emotion. Caplan, with his unruly beard and grin of an evil clown, could have stepped directly out of a Brecht-Weill musical or a Berlin cabaret." Full Review
"A different kind of theatrical experience. Conceptually, it's beautiful: a cast and set that emerge from a giant shipping crate, a klezmer score...a penetrating script sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek moments, and an entertaining narrator/front-man with a powerful voice...In practice, it's less than perfect...If this metaphorical crate hasn't quite reached its destination yet, maybe it's simply like its characters: flawed, but searching for - and occasionally finding - real human connection." Full Review
"On the other side of this show are the songs, which are klezmer infused with hints of bluegrass, but they seems separate from the story...They border on commentaries trying to connect now to then, which doesn’t work. The music however, is well played...This is one talented cast...Mary Fay Coady and Chris Weatherstone are so believable that we follow their story and sigh as sigh of relief when things turn around. They make this tale touching and relevant." Full Review
"Hard to classify. Is it a play enhanced by songs or a song cycle interrupted by dialog?...Caplan is both the best and the worst thing about the piece. He has a powerful distinctive voice and a strong performing presence that threatens to overwhelm the quiet story of Chaim and Chaya. His music, often klezmer-infected, is easy on the ears...While both the drama and the music are worthy of our attention, they seem to some extent to be at war with each other." Full Review
"Caplan, a true showman, has a dynamic voice and is entertaining to watch...It's unfortunate that the book and song scenes aren't more balanced, but when they all play together, the show really comes alive...There is one section about euphemisms for sex that goes on too long, becoming less and less funny, but apart from that, it's refreshing to see a show dealing with religion that is so upfront about sex." Full Review
"A perspective we rarely see in the musical genre: It does not take place in America, but Canada...Where the piece falters is in its own sense of place. Moscovitch's script is on the quest for universality, but it skirts around the show's single most interesting (and different) aspect: its setting. Why did these Romanian émigrés decide to settle in Canada?...'Old Stock' feels like a cool first draft of a work that is daring enough to think outside the box but not to really dig deeper." Full Review
"What's also surprising is the number of times that The Wanderer states something, only to add that, 'This isn't real,' and then to contradict himself again, saying, 'That's a lie.' It makes for an extremely unreliable guide, navigating us through the long saga of these two Romanian refugees, culminating with a long list of their many offspring: 'eight grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren.' But in the end, what exactly are we to believe, given the many contradictions in what we're to... Full Review
"You’ll have to bring all the immigration-musical goodwill you can muster to 'Old Stock,' a kind of klezmer-cabaret-musical-hybrid...It’s disorganized, sloppy, and rude, but underneath the winking and needless asides is an affecting narrative...There’s a touching story waiting to be told here...But it needs something beyond a setup of snarky Wanderer monologue, small Chaim-Chaya scene, out-of-left-field cabaret song, another scene, more Wanderer narration." Full Review
"Instead of a joyously entertaining yiddishkeit musical, we are being treated to a depressing rendition of the Jewish immigrant experience with excessive emphasis on the horrors of Romanian pogroms...Caplan is an immensely talented performer...In this depressingly tasteless musical, Caplan’s enormous talents are largely squandered...Not only that it is depressing and gratuitously gory...but also that it is tasteless, puerile, and misogynistic while paying lip service to political correctness." Full Review
for a previous production "Playful, mysterious, brave, and astonishingly captivating...Fascinating to look at, the charisma oozes from Caplan...The music, the vocal performances, and musicianship are all excellent here – emotionally engaging, visually stunning, and at 80 minutes leaves us still wanting more...This is a show that remains with you and becomes part of how you now see the world." Full Review
for a previous production "The power in this work comes from its inherent truthfulness...This musical onslaught is led by award winning singer/songwriter Ben Caplan...He acts as a powerful narrator to the tale, sinister yet endlessly likable...Coady and Weatherstone draw the perfect balance between gut wrenching emotion and humour. Their relationship which the story centres around is tender and beautiful to watch develop...This is an important play executed with breath-taking brilliance." Full Review
for a previous production "Caplan narrates proceedings as The Wanderer, a top-hatted master of ceremonies who represents an entire Jewish community's sense of exile, as well as providing levity and a driving live score...Both Coady as Chaya and Weatherstone as Chaim play instruments in between conjuring up a much bigger picture of how the world was built on immigration. The fact that they and the band do this in an entertaining and heart-warming fashion makes for a thing of raw and unmissable beauty." Full Review
for a previous production "An extraordinary piece of theatre, telling the often dark tale with an engaging combination of music, dance, and a playful sense of humour...A sumptuous musical that stars Caplan...with a booming voice, as the master of ceremonies, accompanied by an outstanding quartet of musicians...Caplan’s wonderful performance is the centrepiece of the play...He does it all with a charismatic joie de vivre that is thoroughly compelling...From love to loss, the story evokes both laughter and tears." Full Review
for a previous production "Caplan weaves the central love story together with dark wit and seething energy...But it is not a one-man show. Chris Weatherstone and Mary Fay Coady play Chaim and Chaya, the central couple, with sensitivity and conviction...The music is superb, with 'Minimum Intervals' one of the standout numbers...In 'Now is the Quiet,' Kronick’s tip-tapping on the drums and Scott’s occasional tinkling of the piano brilliantly conjure up a rainy backdrop to a lullaby. Sublime." Full Review
See it if You like klezmer and/or folk music. You are interested in the Jewish or immigrant experience. You like actor/musician shows.
Don't see it if You don't like "non-traditional theatre." It's more of a staged concert with scenes than a traditional book musical.
See it if You want to see a wonderfully enjoyable show with fantastic performers.
Don't see it if If you din’t Like Jewish music. There’s no reason not to see it.
Also The constant use of the word, “Fuck” took away from the play for me.
See it if I loved the innovation. The different take. The compelling characters. The familiar yet unfamiliar way the story is shared. So unique.
Don't see it if you are looking for a straight laced traditional telling of a depressing hopeful spirited tale.
See it if You want to laugh, cry and be thoroughly entertained. Catchy music, cleverly staged and well acted by multi-talented players.
Don't see it if If you are not interested in the uplifting and emotional immigrant story
See it if You like good theater that makes you think. You enjoy klezmer music. You like theater that is moving and funny, historical yet current.
Don't see it if You are sensitive to strong language. You want light hearted entertainment.
See it if you have any connection with Jewish immigrants (i.e grandparents); you enjoy excellent musicals done in a unique fashion
Don't see it if you can't bear to hear about the atrocities of war even if it's not the most important aspect; you can't relate to Jewish characters
See it if you enjoy unusual theater with a simple story and great music led by a versatile cast, you appreciate dark humor even if it is heavy-handed.
Don't see it if you want a complex story or subtlety, are not able to sit through some purposefully uncomfortable moments, lean toward the traditional.
See it if for an original piece & historical events told creatively through song. Sad story told in delightful style
Don't see it if you don't like original theater,klezmer music. Don't want to be reminded of horrific truths
See it if you love to be surprised by a totally original production. This noisy, chaotic, outsized spectacle defies the limits of its tiny set.
Don't see it if you prefer your Jewish culture to be along the Seinfeld-and-Woody-Allen lines, don't like klezmer music or want a straightforward show.
See it if your enjoy an interesting immigrant story with a message, combined with great Klezmer music and singing.
Don't see it if you don't like Jewish themes or music, or you are opposed to immigration.
See it if you like shows that are a bit off center.This show is delightful.Very engaging performances.Story is told through song.Thoroughly enjoyable
Don't see it if you hate musicals, or don't like quirky inventive shows.This is a gem.
See it if It's imaginative, sensational music which makes you want to get up and dance. Unique approach to familiar material re Jewish immigrant life.
Don't see it if If you're not interested in the past or hate klezmer music.
See it if Persecuted jews immigrate to Canada around 1900 and make a life. Couple struggles w their relationship due to past traumas. Good music.
Don't see it if Graphic descriptions of violence and starvation in Europe. Lyrics of songs sometimes difficult to hear above the instruments.
Also Music is at http://www.bencaplan.ca/music/
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