Review: ‘Iron & Coal’ at Strathmore

DC Metro Theater Arts
By John Stolenberg
May 5, 2018

The sheer magnitude of the concert event was enough to inspire wonder and awe. More than 200 musicians packed the Strathmore stage and a balcony above—two orchestras, three choirs, a rock band—plus animated projections on a widescreen scrim and a stadium-scale light plot flooding the hall. For two nights only, Jeremy Schonfeld’s 2011 rock concept album Iron & Coal got mega-sized. The effect was gloriously spectacular and overwhelmingly beautiful—and also dramatically not quite focused.

Composer/lyricist Schonfeld created Iron & Coal as a tribute to his German Jewish father, Gustav Schonfeld, whose story is gripping: At the age of 10 he was sent to Auschwitz and survived along with his father until liberation. Then, reunited a year later with his mother, who also survived, Gustav grew up in the United States and became a renowned medical doctor, much lauded in his lifetime. (He died in 2011 on the very day his son’s Iron & Coal was mastered.) Portions of his autobiography, titled Absence of Closure, were incorporated into the concert program. He was “the first refuge kid from war to be bar mizvahed” at his synagogue in St. Louis (“The boy who lost his childhood becomes a man today”). He tells vividly of his post-traumatic nightmares. The snippets from Gustav’s memoir make one want to read more.

Review: My Lai massacre, 50 years later: Jonathan Berger's opera captures the madness

BY MARK SWED
MUSIC CRITIC

MARCH 11, 2018
LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Where in God's name is the medic?" the dying hospital patient demands. He's not asking for help for himself. He's frantically trying to save a boy's life. It's a scream, one of the important screams in American history, that has haunted him for 38 years.

Jonathan Berger's opera "My Lai" — written for the Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert and Vân-Ánh Võ, a virtuoso player of traditional Vietnamese instruments — takes place during the last hallucinatory days of Hugh Thompson Jr. He was the U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War who flew over the massacre in My Lai. Above the fray, he could see the mass hysteria below that warped the minds of Charlie Company. Those men were infamously commanded to wipe out everything walking, crawling or growing. More than 500 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly, were slaughtered. There was no evidence of Viet Cong activity.

Review: Kronos Quartet Revisits Vietnam Horror in ‘My Lai’

By James R. Oestreich
September. 28, 2017
The New York Times

You would like to think that a soldier who took a heroic stand against evil and managed to save at least a few lives amid a massacre could find peace of mind in his dying days. The creators of “My Lai,” a musical theater work given its premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday evening, suggest otherwise in the case of Hugh Thompson.

Vietnam is much in the air at the moment, thanks to the PBS documentary series “The Vietnam War,” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. But as comprehensive as that survey is, it gives surprisingly cursory treatment to the massacre of more than 500 Vietnamese civilians by American troops in the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. When it finally came to light, in November 1969, that mass killing proved pivotal in marshaling American fatigue and disgust with the war, which finally led to the withdrawal of troops in 1973.

Review: ‘Aging Magician,’ a Fable Complete With Complexities

The New York Times
By Anthony Tommasini
March 9, 2017

Harold, a middle-aged, solitary sad sack, earns his living making and repairing clocks. What really consumes him, though, is the children’s book he has been writing for years, about an aging magician who must pass on his Book of Secrets to a receptive child, a magician heir. But before he can do so, the magician collapses and is rushed to a hospital.

How should Harold end the story? And why is he finding it so difficult? He shares his crisis in the poignant, entrancing "Aging Magician," at the New Victory Theater, the invaluable company that presents family-oriented entertainment...

BWW Review: Experience the Timeless Magic of the New Vic's THE AGING MAGICIAN

by Kristen Morale
March 7, 2017

I am sometimes amazed by how brilliant some people in this world are, especially when it comes to bringing exciting and downright mesmerizing pieces of art to the stage - because a production that has the power to make people come together in such unanimous awe can only be described as art. When this can be said of a children's show no less, it is even more admirable, and I have the greatest confidence that all who see The Aging Magician at the New Victory Theater will be shocked by how shockingly beautiful this show is.

And when I say beautiful, it is an understatement to describe what, exactly, makes this so memorable a concept and performance. With a plot as intricate as the gears of a clock and meant for both those who have much or little time ahead of them, The Aging Magician, like a magic trick itself, is a little bit elusive, requires a little bit of personal insight, but does not beg for more than the audience's belief to make it truly something of a wonder.

Rinde Eckert performs RIN: Tales from the Life of a Troubador at The Kennedy Center (review)

Rinde Eckert performs RIN: Tales from the Life of a Troubador at The Kennedy Center (review)

February 7, 2017
By Susan Galbraith
DC Theatre Scene

"...Just as he defies categorization of music styles or voice techniques, Eckert blurs all lines between creator and interpreter. Many performance artists are known for attempting this, but what makes him exceptional is that he is so darn good in all aspects of music-theatre..."

Review: ‘RIN: Tales From the Life of a Troubadour’ Starring Rinde Eckert at The Kennedy Center

DC Metro Theater Arts
by David Friscic
February 7, 2017

"...Mr. Eckert’s iconoclastic 'performance art' style always produced the unexpected..."

The acclaimed writer, composer, librettist, physician, performer, and director Rinde Eckert delighted and amazed the crowd on Friday evening at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. Eckert allowed the audience to enter his seemingly hermetically sealed world of musical language, comedic riffs, rare instrumentals, and anecdotal tales.

Mr. Eckert is the recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award as well as several Drama Desk Awards. He certainly captured the crowd’s attention with amazing verbal wordplay, singing in the highest of registers and playing several musical instruments...

 Rinde Eckert. Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

Rinde Eckert. Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

Review: ‘RIN: Tales From the Life of a Troubadour’ Starring Rinde Eckert at The Kennedy Center

DC Metro Theatre Arts
By David Friscic
February 7, 2017

The acclaimed writer, composer, librettist, physician, performer, and director Rinde Eckert delighted and amazed the crowd on Friday evening at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. Eckert allowed the audience to enter his seemingly hermetically sealed world of musical language, comedic riffs, rare instrumentals, and anecdotal tales.

Mr. Eckert is the recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award as well as several Drama Desk Awards. He certainly captured the crowd’s attention with amazing verbal wordplay, singing in the highest of registers and playing several musical instruments...

Insightful Reviews of Schick Machine, with text and direction by Rinde Eckert

Insightful Reviews of Schick Machine, with text and direction by Rinde Eckert

Steven Schick at the Peacock in the Paul Dresher Ensemble production of Schick Machine. | Credit: Chi Wang


What’s inside a Schick Machine? There are diagrams and equations, drawn on butcher paper; huge metal sculptures, balls, and hoops, and bells. A deconstructed pipe organ in the shape of a sunburst — called the Peacock — dominates the space. Somehow, Laszlo Klangfarben dreams, these mechanisms will work together in harmony, reconciling past and future, large and small.