The play will premiere on Thursday at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis.

Courtesy of University

The play will premiere on Thursday at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis.

February 8, 2018

Cornell Professor Casts Tony-Nominated Sister in New Play

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A Cornell professor has assembled the full artistic force of his family of Pulitzer, Tony and Emmy nominees for his new play Dancing With Giants.

Pulitzer Prize nominee Prof. David Feldshuh, performing and media arts, will be directing in the play and will be accompanied by his sister Tovah Feldshuh, who has been nominated for four Tony Awards and two Emmy awards. The play also contains cartoons and music created by Feldshuh’s sons, Zach Feldshuh and Noah Feldshuh, respectively.

Tovah will be playing the role of Yussel the Muscle, a New York “wheeler-dealer boxing manager” according to Illusion Theater’s website. For David, his sister was an obvious choice for the role.

“I had seen a number of actresses [play a male role],” David said in an email to The Sun. “I believed that my sister, with her range of craft and experience, could bring both credibility and magnetism to the role.”

David also said that he decided to cast his sister for her acting skills as well as to involve his family in “this tribute to my mother and father,” he said.  “When my mother died, I decided to search for a story that might capture the time, place, and spirit of my parents and their youth,” he said.

David chose to write the play on “pre-World War II, the Bronx around the Yankee Stadium,” he said.

“[The main character] is a figure whose sense of humor, physical energy, willingness to try anything and go for it, and ability to bounce back reflect the approach to life of people whose struggle was fueled by a determination to survive the Depression and make a life in a remarkable country, America,” he said in an interview with the University for the Cornell Chronicle.

Zach created cartoons for the play’s set while Noah, founding lead guitarist of X Ambassadors, created “The Song of the Low Blow Champion” to be used in the performance.

The song is a “biting, political satire of a pre-war German, Berlin cabaret,” David said.

David’s wife and daughter also contributed to the creative process of the play by remaining “tireless and incisive critics and listeners to lines spouting from me day and night,” he said.

The play will premiere on Thursday at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, where Feldshuh spent time workshopping with professional actors.

“I can’t wait for opening,” Feldshuh said. “I’m excited to bring this work to an audience. Creating and directing a new play is a frenzied but exciting adventure. As a professional director-playwright, I have great respect and affection for audiences that take the time to show up for my work.”