A potpourri of descriptive review excerpts from various cities…
A Jew Grows in Brooklyn DELIGHTS AND INSPIRES
Thoroughly engaging and endearing from the moment he steps on stage, Jake Ehrenreich’s A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN is a “must see” theatrical event. My advice – RUN, DON’T WALK!
Ehrenreich is a multi-talented American born child of Holocaust survivors and for a solid hour and forty minutes he sings, he reminisces, he tells jokes, he tell stories – but the biggest “take-away” of the evening is that each of our individual “life journeys” are much more similar than they are different. Through stories and comedy and music, multi-media video and photos, Jake recreates his unforgettable journey of discovery and life lessons learned. He masterfully took the audience from tears to laughter and back again --- it is truly one of the most uplifting evenings one could spend in the theatre.
Ehrenreich is a wonderful storyteller and tremendously charming. He has become the master of “schtick” and delivers punch lines as well as any of the celebrated comedians that came out of The Catskills – a time and place that he lovingly brings to life onstage in story, song and stand-up. Even though very polished, the show never seems “over-rehearsed” or affected. It is genuine, heartfelt and honest from beginning to end.
A Jew Grows in Brooklyn has UNIVERSAL APPEAL
This review marks the second time I've seen A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, Jake Ehrenreich's autobiographical show about his upbringing, and Holocaust refugee parents—and upon further viewing, Ehrenreich grows even more endearing, his gentle nostalgia bearing witness to a nearly departed generation, language, and way of life. The weight of those lost memories makes these an uplifting treasure.
The jokes seem delicately calibrated to offset the tragedy that suffused the survivor immigrants and their families. The poignancy and specificity of place and time is what separates this show from its schlockier brethren, such as My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish and I'm in Therapy, and puts it in the same elevated company as Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays or Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale. It's very funny, and at its best, it's a privileged peek back in time.
To be sure my affection for the piece wasn't unduly influenced by ethnic bias, this time around, I took a goyishe pal. The verdict? It seems that A Jew Grows In Brooklyn warms and comforts like a steaming bowl of matzo-ball soup. Ehrenreich is a mensch, and a universally appealing mensch, at that.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Humor and sorrow in Jake Ehrenreich’s Engaging Performance
Growing up as a post-World War II-generation Jewish American supplies writer-actor-singer-musician Jake Ehrenreich with material for plenty of nostalgic satire in “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn.” There’s more to the show than laughs, however. Ehrenreich’s autobiographical compilation of stories and song is skillfully calibrated to connect to an audience with the distinctive commingling of humor and sorrow characteristic of traditional Jewish folk tales.
Ehrenreich’s exploration of his Jewish identity is built on emotional pivot points — poking at the sore spots of his family life with the fierce affection that Jews have for one another, then linking each comic anecdote to a more serious theme.
Ehrenreich is an engaging and thoughtful raconteur who weaves philosophy into personal history with minimal sermonizing. His insight into the legacy of the classic Borscht Belt entertainers (whose style he effectively emulates) is elegant in its simplicity. They made Jewish comedy synonymous with American comedy, but for Holocaust survivors and their offspring their contribution was even more special and profound: “They taught us to laugh again.”
PALM BEACH POST
Accent on mirth, memories in 'Jew Grows in Brooklyn'
Jake Ehrenreich seems like a really nice guy. He's funny, personable and plays a mean set of drums. But does that mean you want to shell out 65 of your hard-earned bucks listening to Ehrenreich walk - and sing - as he tells his life story in the musical comedy A Jew Grows in Brooklyn? You betcha.
Ehrenreich's autobiographical show is back for a seven-week run. The last time the show was here, it sold out for 17 consecutive weeks. It's easy to understand why.
For starters, Ehrenreich is a wonderful storyteller. He talks in a relaxed, easygoing manner, and it also helps that Ehrenreich’s story is engaging, poignant and, at times, hilarious. But the beauty of A Jew Grows in Brooklyn is that you don't have to be Jewish or from Brooklyn to enjoy this entertaining show.
While A Jew Grows in Brooklyn could be considered a one-man show, it never really feels like it. That's because Ehrenreich does a terrific job of bringing his family on stage with him through old scrapbook photos, video clips, detail-rich stories and heartfelt Yiddish lullabies. As someone who has performed on Broadway in such shows as Barnum, They're Playing Our Song and Dancin', Ehrenreich gets to show off his considerable musical talents during a rousing salute to great rock 'n' roll and Christmas songs. His impressive drum solo (Ehrenreich toured in Beatlemania as Ringo) would've probably garnered a standing ovation from Sheila E. had she been in the audience.
But A Jew Grows in Brooklyn isn't all fun and music. There's a decidedly dark section in which Ehrenreich movingly talks about his parents' Holocaust experiences in Siberian work camps. It's a sobering moment in which you could hear a feather fall to the ground. Ehrenreich's loving tribute to his family is a winner and a memory lane walk you definitely won't mind taking.
USA TODAY TRAVELER
A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN A QUIET TRIUMPH
It’s billed as a musical comedy, but A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, Jake Ehrenreich’s solo remembrance of a post-war New York childhood, is both funny and heartbreaking. Ehrenreich’s production is a touching tribute to his parents, Holocaust survivors, and the travails of a first-generation kid navigating all-American waters.
A Jew Grows in Brooklyn is a monologue of self-reflection; it is also a chronicle of American Jewish life in the 1960s and ’70s. His parents arrive in New York in 1949 with two children and the clothes on their back. By recalling the world they left and evoking the one they remade, Ehrenreich turns theater into documentary. Traversing a cross-cultural thicket is a challenge; to make us laugh and cry while he does it is artistry.
Like Billy Crystal’s one-man show 700 Sundays, the monologist works best when transforming singular events into a larger human drama. His ease on stage is evident; Ehrenreich is a seductive performer. He marries nostalgia to genuine pathos. A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, a theatrical version of cinema verite, is a quiet triumph.
NEW YORK TIMES SQUARE MAGAZINE
Theater Review: A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN
A Jew Grows In Brooklyn is one of the most entertaining, laugh-out-loud, funny, and genuinely heart-warming performances I have seen in a long while. Written and performed by Jake Ehrenreich, the one-man show is a sweet and humbling tale of a Jewish kid from Brooklyn going against his heritage only to embrace and reconnect with it later on a much deeper and meaningful level.
Infused with hilarious and at times sentimental recollections, classic anecdotes and amazing musical interludes, the show is a rollercoaster of varying but mainly positive emotions.
Playing the drums (and a few other instruments) like the seasoned pro that he is, his performances add another awesome and contemporary layer to this classic Jewish American tale. He is a truly talented musician and storyteller; and it is a pleasure to watch him perform.
A Jew Grows In Brooklyn is an incredibly amusing and interesting story that would appeal to anyone who loves music, history or humor and it is one of the better shows for anyone to see – Jewish or not.
A Jew Grows In Brooklyn: A few tears, we could handle
Everybody ought to have a relative like Jake Ehrenreich somewhere in their family. You know the kind of person I mean: a bit larger than life, full of songs and stories and anxious to see everyone with a smile on their faces. If you’re lucky, maybe you already know someone like that. If you don’t, then you’re going to want to make a visit to the Panasonic Theatre, where he’s holding forth in his warm-hearted entertainment, A Jew Grows in Brooklyn.
Even though Ehrenreich was a Jew from Brooklyn, while I was a Catholic, it’s amazing how similar our stories were. And sitting in the packed theatre this past weekend, it was a real bonding experience to discover how much we all shared in common with this big-spirited man.
He starts on the kind of battered house front that you could find anywhere from Montreal to Manhattan, singing a bittersweet song he wrote called “My Brooklyn Roads.” It sets the mood perfectly for what’s to come.
Always working from specific memories (a pink rubber ball, a bad haircut, a girl’s perfume), he takes us back to a world that is at the same time uniquely his, but yet familiar to all of us.
He vividly brings back to life the Catskill Mountains of New York, where several generations of Jewish families found a vacation experience unlike any before or since. He captures the sights and sounds and sensations of what it was like to grow to manhood in such a special place and you feel a bit of wistfulness for what no longer is. As an entertainer, you can’t fault Ehrenreich, with great timing and boundless energy--and when Big Jake takes over the drums for a Gene Krupa-esque solo, you’ll simply plotz.
NEW YORK THEATER SCENE
A Jew Grows In Brooklyn
Ok, chances are if you’re seeing this show you’re Jewish, or from Brooklyn. But even if you’re neither, you’ll find Jake Ehrenreich’s touching and poignant one-man homage to his childhood and his Jewish heritage delightfully irresistible.
From the moment the talented and energetic Ehrenreich pops onstage dressed in his Tilden High School sweatshirt he’s so hamish it feels like you’ve known him all your life. Exuding genuine warmth and wistfulness, with the comic timing of Jackie Mason, he takes you on a journey through the trials and tribulations of growing up as a first-generation American Jew in Brooklyn. His sincerity and passion is charmingly infectious, and it’s easy to appreciate his nostalgic nod to an era that no longer exists.
As the son of Holocaust survivors, suffice it to say there are fables of family lost during the Holocaust, but his reverence for the past truly exemplifies how Jews have learned to take the bitter with the sweet, the laughter with the tears.
And speaking of laughter, much of the second act is devoted to the phenomenon of The Catskills, which, in its heyday, was ‘the’ place for the Jewish community to go during summers. Ehrenreich is a master at sharing anecdotes about his tiny, mosquito-infested bungalow, and then he caps it off with a hilarious homage to the nightclub acts of the time (complete with a delicious rendition of the requisite Jewish anthem Rumania. ) You laugh your head off and sing along.
What really makes this show special isn’t the jokes, it isn’t the songs…it’s the message. Ehrenreich has the ability to turn the immigrant experience into everyone’s experience. Ehrenreich knows that anyone living today had ancestors who at some point came over from somewhere and encountered similar hardships. Ultimately it seems he wants to remind you that life goes on, and the most important thing to do is pass down the stories of your family, so that future generations will know where they came from, be it from Brooklyn or anywhere else.
THE MIAMI HERALD
Musing on his Jewish roots
If you've been watching TV lately, you've likely seen the commercials touting Jake Ehrenreich's autobiographical show A Jew Grows in Brooklyn.
The title is a twist on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and it suggests that Ehrenreich is a joker. He is. He's also a multitalented musician, singer and storyteller, and uses all facets to take audiences on an enjoyable journey through his life.
Tall and handsome, Ehrenreich shares a particular yet familiar story. The only son of Holocaust survivors, he grew up in Brooklyn playing stickball in the streets, summering in the Catskills with his folks and the friends who became their extended family.
At various points during A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, Ehrenreich becomes a comedian, a Catskills tummler (master of ceremonies), a vocalist who sings a medley of beautiful Christmas songs by various Jewish composers, a rocker and a knockout drum soloist. He shows family photos, celebrates his parents, shares joys and sorrows—and aims straight for your heart. Somewhere two loving parents are kvelling over the son who did them proud. You'll dig the show, too.
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