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The York Theatre Company Stars Robert Cuccioli in "Rothschild & Sons" at The Theater at Saint Peter’s

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The York Theatre Company
James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director

In association with
Arnold Mittelman and the National Jewish Theater Foundation

Robert Cuccioli
Rothschild & Sons
(Show Website)

Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Book by Sherman Yellen

Directed by Jeffrey B. Moss
Choreographed by Denis Jones

The Theater at Saint Peter’s
619 Lexington Avenue at 54th St
New York, NY 10022

Peter Cormican, Jonathan Hadley, David Bryant Johnson
Christine LaDuca, Jamie LaVerdiere, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper
Mark Pinter, Curtis Wiley, Christopher M. Williams
Glory Crampton as Gutele

Scenic Design by James Morgan
Costume Design by Carrie Robbins
Lighting Design by Kirk Bookman
Wigs & Hair Design by Paul Huntley Productions
General Press Representative: O&M Co., Philip Carrubba
Production Manager: Cynthia Jankowski
Production Stage Manager: Meg Friedman
Asst. Stage Manager: David Beller
Music Direction by Jeffrey Klitz
Music Supervision/Orchestrations: Joseph Church

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 20, 2015

A synthesized revival of the Bock/Harnick/Yellen 1970, The Rothschilds is the new Rothschild & Sons, presented by the York Theatre Company at The Theater at Saint Peter’s. The theater itself is worn with time and compact in size, as is this resilient, compelling musical. Sherman Yellen and Sheldon Harnick, who wrote the original lyrics and book, collaborated with Director, Jeffrey Moss, on this production. Composer, Jerry Bock is deceased. The production team assigned multiple roles to eleven actors, a wise choice for this streamlined stage. The central character, head of family, is Mayer Rothschild, a magnificent Robert Cuccioli, who, over the years, has been favorably reviewed on these pages in lead roles in Snow Orchid, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Dietrich & Chevalier. In this expansive, one-act, intermission-less musical, presenting decades of plot development in almost two hours, Mr. Cuccioli matures and morphs, before our eyes, from a struggling, young, rare coins salesman to the head of the influential Rothschild banking firm. Rothschild marries Gutele, a campy Glory Crampton, who appears stage left, five times holding a baby boy, each time more exhausted and disheveled.

As the play proceeds, in dialogue and song (25, including reprises), Mayer becomes obsessed with his new prestige and power, plowing his way into finally closing ranks with his sons, heads of state, and royalty to prop up Britain and overcome Napoleon. Each of those five sons, with unique personalities and physicality, confront Mayer or each other, as each is dispatched to a different capital city to develop a branch of the impending dynasty. The emotional burdens of independence and responsibility are handled through twists of fate and strength of character. Mayer and Nathan (Christopher M. Williams) sing “He Never Listens”, as Nathan, the third born son and the feistiest, who was sent to set up a banking firm in London, assumes a showcased role in family politics. The other four sons, Amshel (Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper), Salomon (Jamie LaVerdiere), Kalmann (Curtis Wiley), and Jacob (David Bryant Johnson), set up banking, respectively, in Frankfurt, Vienna, Naples, and Paris. In the three roles of Prince William, Herries, and Prince Metternich was a superbly cast Mark Pinter, who, as Metternich, exuded devilish demonics in a white wig, knickers, and fine velvet suiting.

Mr. Cuccioli personifies Rothschild as a courageous, driven, stoic head of household, one with loyalty and a moral compass, that propels him from father of five to social activist and consigliere to heads of state. In his own lifetime (a play on the show’s lead tune), Mr. Cuccioli stands tall, after toil, sacrifice, and resolve, when he achieves esteem for himself, Gutele, and sons, and when he achieves reforms for “his people”, the Jews in the ghettoes. Mr. Cuccioli’s strong voice is poignantly present in almost a dozen songs, with his “In My Own Lifetime” the most memorable. As Gutele, Ms. Crampton, also morphing from crumpled cotton to bustled brocade, as the family’s fortunes rise, is a striking stage presence with eloquent vocal talent, especially in “One Room” and “Just a Map”. Mr. Williams and Mr. Cuccioli’s “He Never Listens”, highlighting the talents of each, as Nathan and Mayer, was well received by tonight’s enthused audience. Mr. Pinter’s “Stability”, in his role as Metternich, created some sparks, with his dramatic wit.

James Morgan’s scenery superbly created the dark ghetto home and stunning palatial palace rooms. Carrie Robbins’ vested, black costumes for Mayer and sons, plus Gutele and Metternich’s brocades, along with Paul Huntley’s curly court wigs, drew the audience into the timeline. Kirk Bookman’s lighting was most evocative in the luminous palace scenes. Jeffrey Klitz kept the small band rhythmic and melodic. Mr. Moss has directed to keep the momentum fluid through this refashioned, one-act musical, but the audience was visibly squirming, after sitting for over two hours, from entering to exiting. This production was worthy of two acts, and, with the embedded historical details, it needed an interlude to breathe. Yet, throughout, stage talent and energy abounded. Kudos to all.

Glory Crampton, Peter Cormican, and Robert Cuccioli
in "Rothschild & Sons" at York Theatre Company
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

Jamie LaVerdiere, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, David Bryant Johnson,
Robert Cuccioli, Curtis Wiley, and Christopher M. Williams
in "Rothschild & Sons" at York Theatre Company
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at