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Review: Unusual rock star rabbi croons on Broadway

August 16, 2013 • Entertainment


This theater image released by Richard Kornberg & Associates shows Eric Anderson, left, and Amber Iman during a performance of the Broadway musical “Soul Doctor.” (AP Photo/Richard Kornberg & Associates, Carol Rosegg)

NEW YORK (AP) — Sure, the sexual revolution was a culture shock for much of American society when it arrived in the 1960s. But imagine the conflict it posed for a rabbi who was eager to embrace it but had never so much as shaken hands with a woman because of strict social constraints steeped in 3,000 years of religious tradition.

The new Broadway musical “Soul Doctor” examines the life and times — and music — of Shlomo Carlebach in a unique, if plodding, study of a charismatic holy man who finds himself stuck between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

Carlebach, widely considered to be the modern era’s father of Jewish popular music, makes for a fascinating biographical subject, even if the re-orchestrations of his staid, folksy compositions aren’t quite lively or diverse enough to fill a two-hour, 30-minute musical. The unusual score is lifted somewhat by a couple of pleasing gospel numbers and engaging performances by Eric Anderson in the title role and Amber Iman as Nina Simone, one of Carlebach’s biggest influences.

The son of an Orthodox rabbi, Shlomo’s family fled Vienna to escape the Nazis when he was a boy. He came of age in Login to read more

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