by Adam Cohen
Every family has their secrets. Whether they should be shared – especially in a musical is another story. But there are many moments that make Goldstein the musical worthy of hearing.
Louis (Zal Owen) has written a Pulitzer Prize–winning, Oprah-book club pick, tell-all memoir about his titular clan, but his aunt Sherri (Megan McGinnis) plotzes. How could he make up such awful stories? What gives him the right to tell their stories? Thus a multi-generational family flashback that fills in the blanks with songs.
Goldstein, with a score by Michael Roberts and book by Charlie Schulman is pleasant. Directed with a light touch by Brad Rouse there are moments that generally stir and interest the audience. Most of them concern Sherri and her being held back from pursuing her education so that brother Nathan (Aaron Galligan-Stierle) can. Sherri helps mind the family’s dress store which was established by parents Zelda (Amie Bermowitz) and Louie (Jim Stanek). We learn how Zelda and Louie met on a boat to Ellis Island, though Louie was not the man of Zelda’s dreams but the convenient marriage to get away from her oppressive family.
The highlights of the musical are in the more human moments – “Visiting Your Mother” delivered by Sarah Beth Pfiefer with Sondheimian verve. Here the musical elevates it’s game and shows the potential of what it could have been – a realistic view of the binds and bonds of family. Amie Bermowitz’ Zelda is fierce, a woman burnt by life – and is the heart of the story.
The genre of immigrant experience has been rendered in other shows with more dramatic undertones like Ragtime or even Fiddler on the Roof. What Roberts, Schulman and Rouse are going for is more humane. Largely it works. The evening is a pleasant exploration with a sepia touch that reminds one of sitting on grandma’s plastic wrapped couch hearing the stories behind the yellowing photos in an album.
Photos: Jeremy Daniel
The playing schedule for GOLDSTEIN is as follows: Mondays through Thursdays at 7:30PM, Saturdays at 8PM with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 3PM.
The Actors Temple Theatre – 339 West 47 Street, NYC