After many years of development, a pandemic delay and a lot of sweat, I’m pleased that the theatrical production of “Hester Street,” based on the film by Joan Micklin Silver, is finally happening. Joan worked closely with us on the adaptation when we first got started and my only regret is that she didn’t live to see the result. I’m confident that she would have been very pleased.
The first out-of-town production will be in Washington DC with an official opening date of April 1. You can read the details in the press release below, which went out earlier today. Tickets are already on sale at THIS LINK.
If you would like to get involved, you can make a fully tax-deductible contribution here… Donate to Theater J Hester Street.
If you would rather invest in the commercial production of the show, just contact me directly.
Here is the complete press release:
For Immediate Release 10/23/23
OLIVER BUTLER TO DIRECT STAGE ADAPTATION OF
JOAN MICKLIN SILVER’S “HESTER STREET”
Sharyn Rothstein’s new play-with-music will have its world premiere in the Spring of 2024
A new adaptation for the stage of Joan Micklin Silver’s 1976 critically acclaimed film, HESTER STREET will have its world premiere on April 1, 2024, at Theater J in Washington DC, it was announced today by Producers Michael Rabinowitz and Ira Deutchman. The play-with-music adaptation was written by Sharyn Rothstein and will be directed by Oliver Butler. The new original music was written by Joel Waggoner. Continue reading “Exciting News about “Hester Street””
Last June, at the Walter Reade Theater in New York, family, friends and colleagues of Joan Micklin Silver got together to pay tribute to the inspirational and ceiling-smashing legacy of one of independent film’s true heroes. Somewhat belatedly, here is the memorial in its entirely for those of you who couldn’t be there.
Please comment after the break… Continue reading “A Celebration of Joan Micklin Silver”
Within a month of when I started working at Cinema 5 in 1975, Joan Micklin Silver’s first feature, Hester Street, opened at the Plaza Theater on 58th Street. The Plaza was one of the Cinema 5 theaters and it was located around the corner from our offices. Every night, on the way home from work, I would see the lines of people stretched all the way down the block toward Park Avenue. The film was a huge hit. Around that time, I first met Joan and her husband Ray when they came to our offices to make a deal with us to distribute the film to the non-theatrical market. I learned that my boss, Don Rugoff, had turned the film down for theatrical distribution because he thought (as many others did) that the film was “too niche.” But now that the film was a hit, he wanted in.
My job at the time was as a non-theatrical salesperson, so I was on the phone all day with colleges, libraries and other organizations, trying to get them to book our library of films. Hester Street would not only be a valuable addition, but would be of particular appeal to Jewish organizations, which we were already servicing with such films as Garden of the Finzi-Continis and The Sorrow and the Pity, among others. Continue reading “A Tribute to Joan Micklin Silver”
In the history of American independent film, Joan Micklin Silver is a seminal figure. Her body of work as a director is impressive on its own terms, but even more so given the obstacles that women faced—and continue to face—in the film business in the United States. She and her husband Ray, by refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer, set the stage for the independent film boom of the ‘80s by working entirely outside the Hollywood system, pioneering equity investment structures, using their lack of resources to create a unique and personal esthetic, and ultimately, marketing and distributing their own films.
I became aware of Joan’s work upon the release of her first feature, “Hester Street,” which opened in 1976 at the Plaza Theater in New York—a theater that was operated by Cinema 5, the company I was working for at the time. The film was a huge success, grossing over $6 million at the box office and garnering an Oscar nomination for its star, Carol Kane. I got to know Joan and Ray because Cinema 5 bought the non-theatrical rights to the film, and I was in charge of selling it to Jewish groups across the country. Continue reading “The Coolest Film in Town – Chilly Scenes of Winter”