Members say: Entertaining, Great singing, Clever, Quirky, Absorbing

About the show

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.

... Read 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. 


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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

65
Theatermania

"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

90
BroadwayWorld

"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

80
Time Out New York

"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

80
Lighting & Sound America

"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

80
The New York Times

"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

75
Theater Pizzazz

"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

70
Times Square Chronicles

"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

70
Gotham Playgoer

"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

85
Talkin' Broadway

"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

85
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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

70
Theatre is Easy

"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

85
BlogCritics.org

"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

40
TheaterScene.com

"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

75
CurtainUp

"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

90
Theatre Reviews Limited

"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

60
TheaterScene.net

"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

75
Stage Buddy

"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

35
A Seat on the Aisle

"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

80
Off Off Online

"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

95
Plays to See

"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

80
The Scotsman

for a previous production "The show draws deeply and unforgettably on the wit and wisdom of Jewish ­culture...If Caplan’s bravura ­performance is sometimes a shade too overwhelming, Mary Fay Coady and Christopher Weatherstone are so perfectly pitched and quietly charismatic that the 'Old Stock' experience becomes irresistible, borne along on a tide of brilliant klezmer music and original song that links us to an old world, and helps us to live joyfully in a new one." Full Review

80
The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "While Caplan is a thunder-lunged performer with a voice that is positively meteorological, his presence swamps the production and smothers the delicacy of the story being told. It’s a dominant and showy performance, though his vocal power is undoubted. Mary Fay Coady gives a characterful and precise performance...However, some of the songs, by Caplan and director Christian Barry, are tonally jarring." Full Review

90
Herald Scotland

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

85
ArtsFile

for a previous production "The storyline shifts backward and forward in time and from place to place. The effect is one of a tale that’s at once rooted in particulars but universal, and that strategy draws us in...Gripping from beginning to end and with themes of family, alienation and love stitching it together, it would be impossible not to see something of yourself in the tale...It gives hope, which we need these days and which The Wanderer, despite his jaded side, would doubtless applaud." Full Review

80
The Coast

for a previous production "Hannah Moscovitch’s writing is spare and precise and lends itself perfectly to the quiet, natural performances of the two leads. It is an engaging and timely story, but can at times feel overpowered by Ben Caplan’s presence, which rarely veers from bombastic. If you’re already a Caplan fan, you’ll love the show. If you’re not, you’ll undoubtedly be drawn into Moscovitch’s impeccable script and the compelling performances from Coady and Weatherstone." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

76
Clever, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy klezmer music and nostalgic jewish immigrant tales

Don't see it if you dislike loud klezmer music and one man shows.

81
Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a Canadian Jewish Immigration story with imaginative staging and great music. It needs a longer life in NYC.

Don't see it if you don't like a little too much foul language and some songs that go on a bit longer than necessary or you don't like immigrant stories.

Also I saw a preview at the Edinburgh synagogue last year. I am glad I fina... Read more Read less

74
Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if If you like one act musicals with a talented artist in the show. If you like something different, a little corky but satisfying.

Don't see it if If you don't like an unconventional show or a show about immigrants.

52
Depressing, Loud, Fine music, Typical immigrant story

See it if You like the Bengsons, or musical traveling shows, or stories about Jewish immigration to Canada.

Don't see it if You want to understand the over-miked lyrics, don't think endless references to sexual acts fit story, believe Canada welcomed immigrants.

92
Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Resonant, Great singing

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

95
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

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.

90
Delightful, Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great singing

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

85
Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Romantic, Moving

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/

70
Great acting, Entertaining, Uneven, Good klezmer

See it if well acted, creatively presented story about Jewish refugees done with lots of verve and good music; some well done emotional moments

Don't see it if heavy handed; moderator too intrusive; overt attempts at universality fall flat; grating vulgarity; songs not always connected to story

60
Great acting, Raunchy, Slow, Great singing

See it if If you like Jewish refugee stories and klezmer music

Don't see it if If you ate tired of same old refugee stories and do not appreciate cursing language and crude biblical comentaries on sex

76
Funny, Intelligent, Quirky, Great music, Touching

See it if Great music, touching story but narration sometimes too over indulgent and sophomoric with its own “cuteness” .

Don't see it if Do not like klezmer music and/or object to repeated overuse of sexual humor ( or heavy handed attempts at same).

89
Clever, Delightful, Relevant, Great singing

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.

95
Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

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.

84
Absorbing, Quirky, Entertaining, Great singing, Tender

See it if Ben Caplan’s energy and talent soar; the band is great and the story is both heart warming and heart breaking. I was totally absorbed.

Don't see it if you don’t like jazz, rock and prayer with your Klezmer music; you don’t care for immigration stories or a musical sung mostly by one person.

50
Disappointing, Worthwhile story, poorly told., Acting good, Music ok

See it if Two Jewish immigrants, fleeing Romanian pogroms, meet cute on a sick line upon their arrival in Canada. Book poorly written. Repetitive.

Don't see it if Lyrics badly rhymed. Too long at 85 mins. In the middle, a long prayer in Hebrew, for no reason. Epilogue suggests it's a true story

Also Narrator "The Wanderer" (played by author Ben Caplan as a Dave Malloy ... Read more Read less

80
Ambitious, Edgy, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy Jewish folk music and taking a journey through the immigrant experience escaping atrocities and building a new life. Entertaining!

Don't see it if you are easily triggered by material touching on the horrors of war.

84
Ambitious, Delightful, Intelligent, Romantic, Great writing

See it if Add a few points if your family include emigre's from Eastern Europe, storyline is delightful and the music is fun, the singing so-so

Don't see it if If you don't like Fiddler you prolly won't like this, helps to know about history and pogroms,

80
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you are interested in a clever, quirky & relevant folk musical portraying historical experiences of refugees. Both funny/entertaining & sad

Don't see it if you don't like folk or klezmer music, are opposed to some expletive and raunchy lyrics, or disinterested in immigration and Jewish themes.

85
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Romantic, Wry, Unsentimental

See it if you think you might like your klezmer cut with a little bit of jugband--& just a pinch of Jewish ritual—sung by the Yiddish Tom Waits.

Don't see it if you want a full-blown book with your musical: here the drama is stripped down.

Also “Old Stock” alternates songs played in a thematically unified klezmer ... Read more Read less

80
Clever, Quirky, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy Klezmer music used to tell a refugee love story and immigrant experiences at the turn of the last century. Good staging.

Don't see it if you do not like Klezmer style music or story about immigrants.

Also Both sets of my grandparents escaped the pogroms to come to this count... Read more Read less

90
Delightful, Enchanting, Intelligent, Masterful, Great singing

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.

85
Absorbing, Enchanting, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You enjoy Klezmer-folk music. The music is fun and the story is kind of interspersed between songs.

Don't see it if Well, this is not a musical--it's more of a concert with a bit of a story interspersed. The story isn't enough to stand on its own.

75
Intense, Quirky, Raunchy, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a different take on the Jewish immigrant experience, sad stories, but then interspersed with odd, sometimes funny, songs.

Don't see it if You don’t like quirky songs that are sometimes crude and don’t always advance the story.

75
Clever, Thought-provoking, Inconsistent, Emotional

See it if You like klezmer music, heartbreaking stories about pogroms and immigration, and don't mind a raunchy, OTT narrator

Don't see it if You're easily offended by profanity or double entendre, or triggered by stories of violent death

Also The description of the show says it's "about looking into the eyes of ... Read more Read less

68
Great music, Well-intentioned, Ruined by the narrator

See it if a pro-immigrant message/story & live Klezmer-folk music is enough for you. Touching by the end, tho not enough to balance annoying narrator.

Don't see it if you want the jokes to be funny or if you can't get over feeling like it's all an ego-building exercise for the narrator/singer (Ben Caplan).

Also We've heard variations of this story before, but it's touching despite... Read more Read less


Cast & Creatives (10)