J. EDGAR KLEZMER: Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files is a musical documentary theater adventure, researched and written by grandchild and bandleader Eve Sicular. From klezmer to Kodaly to jazz, baroque to boogie woogie to gospel, and a New York Times clipping on Hazel Scott’s cancelled TV show to derelict theories of homosexuality, J. EDGAR KLEZMER’s exploration of surveillance files leads in even more directions than the Department of Justice could have foreseen. Read review in the New York Times
J. EDGAR KLEZMER premiered in workshop at Dixon Place in November 2008 and immediately became a Time Out NY Critics Pick. It has gone on to major acclaim in full production at HERE Arts Center in NYC and Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown NJ, and a December 2015 show at The Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck NY — as well as a highlight being performed by Isle of Klezbos in the sextet's debut at legendary Broadway nightclub 54 Below in September 2015.
The show is based on the true story of the late Dr. Adele Sicular, grandmother of Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos drummer & bandleader Eve Sicular. Using documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act filing, plus myriad other archival findings, and combined with family gossip, this piece investigates the dealings of the FBI and Eve’s pianist / psychiatrist / activist grandma through live theater, multi-media projections, and live music.
Other workshop performances were presented in June, 2009 by The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan under the direction of Isabel Milenski and in February the same year at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Thanks to Third Street Music School Settlement, Caravan of Dreams, A Repeat Performance Antiques, and The Arch & Bruce Brown Foundation for support of our 2015 productions. Development and previous performances of J. EDGAR KLEZMER: Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files also received support from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund (NYC Department of Cultural Affairs), Third Street Music School Settlement, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Sparkplug Foundation. We are also grateful to numerous generous private donors, and to our 157 crowd-funding contributors to date – from seven countries around the world thus far.
‘J. Edgar Klezmer: Songs From My Grandmother’s F.B.I. Files’ Tells All at Here Arts Center — Theater review in The New York Times
“Turning Grandma’s FBI File Into Theater” — Ted Merwin’s preview of J. EDGAR KLEZMER in The Jewish Week
“Klezmer Meets Politics in Unique Theater Piece” — NJ Jersey Arts Maven’s Sheila Abrams reviews the show
In June, 2009 Eve Sicular spoke to Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry about her grandmother Adele Sicular and J. EDGAR KLEZMER.
Listen to “Prying Eyes: A klezmer musician turns her grandmother’s FBI files into musical theater.” Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin.
“The concept is brilliant, the material, superb, the execution, flawless and poetic, athletic and thoughtful in every move. Please congratulate your fellow performers, one more talented than the next. Everyone I spoke to agreed it was absolutely wonderful. Thank you for the really hard work and reminding us of those harrowing McCarthy era years.
That was some grandma you had.”
– Mary Silk (Emelin Theatre, 12/5/2015)
“The musical documentary theater adventure was all that we anticipated...the story, the music, the talented musicians/actresses... everything was really terrific, and we will remember it for a long time to come! Great turnout (terrific for the Emelin, too!!)”
– Yvonne Tropp (Emelin Theatre, 12/5/2015)
Melissa Fogarty lead vocals
Eve Sicular drums, grandchild
Debra Kreisberg clarinet, saxophone
Reut Regev trombone, slide trumpet
Shoko Nagai piano, accordion
DIRECTED BY Gwenyth Reitz
Thank you to everyone for supporting J. EDGAR KLEZMER in its first full-production theatrical run at Centenary Stage Company [NJ], which also led to our bringing the show to a sold-out run Off-Off Broadway (The New York Times gave us a glowing review opening night at HERE Arts Center!) With additional support, we were also able to take this performance on to the larger stage of The Emelin Theatre [Westchester]. Our original Indiegogo campaign was entirely successful — we surpassed our target on February 24, and contributions have now brought us to over 130% of our initial goal!
Now we’re continuing to accept donations & offer donor perks via On Demand Indiegogo.
We also accept contributions by PayPal, credit card or check. Click here to donate using PayPal or credit card:
For offline donation,
please make checks payable to “Metropolitan Klezmer,” with J. EDGAR KLEZMER
on the memo line.
Isle of Klezbos
151 First Avenue #145
J. EDGAR KLEZMER: Songs from My Grandmother's FBI Files had a fantastic run at Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown, NJ in February 2015, followed by our NYC debut triumph: This expanded production of J. EDGAR KLEZMER has since gone on to a packed-house run at HERE Arts Center in Manhattan in June 2015, as praised in The New York Times. The stellar lineup features bandmates from Isle of Klezbos and Metropolitan Klezmer in both musician and speaking roles plus actress Yelena Shmulenson (A Serious Man; Boardwalk Empire), and veteran director Gwenyth Reitz. We continue to raise funds in support of performance and rehearsal fees, multi-media tech expertise, travel costs, production materials, documentation and more. We were thrilled to have sold out the Dorothy B. Williams Theater at HERE Arts — but our commitment to keeping tickets in an affordable range for the 60 seats at HERE means we're still making up the difference! Thanks for helping our show continue strong with all its themes of political and social awareness, and innovative, vibrant musical documentary form.
bandleader and producer
Isle of Klezbos
151 First Ave #145
NYC 10003 USA
email booking ‘at’ klezbos.com
phone 212 475 4544
mobile 347 804 4439
fax 212 677 6304
Video excerpts are now available for presenters requesting previews of J. EDGAR KLEZMER: Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files.
PHOTO CREDITS top to bottom: Banner images: book jacket, VOYAGE FROM LESBOS, by Richard C. Robertiello, M.D.; NY Times, December 23, 2007, photo by Neal Boenzi; J. EDGAR KLEZMER promotional postcard designed by [Christie Grotheim]; young Adele Sicular, photographer unknown; Hazel Scott, solos from Boogie Woogie to the Classics, folio cover; Adele and her brother Henry Sicular, photographer unknown; Adele Sicular, ca. 1955, Alfred Sachs. Hazel Scott at piano, photographer unknown; J. EDGAR KLEZMER poster Courtesy JCC Manhattan.