Yiddish radio legend to be portrayed at town hall show
Published 3:55 pm, Thursday, March 26, 2015
By the time Arik Luck discovered Moishe Oysher, a celebrity cantor and star of Yiddish cinema, radio and theater, about 50 years had passed since Oysher's death. For Luck, an aspiring actor who was in the midst of his cantorial thesis, Oysher's career was particularly compelling.
Not much was written about him, nor was most of his music published. But Luck said the recordings that remained pointed to a phenomenal talent who managed to bridge a life between his cantorial duties and his desire to be a Hollywood star.
It was not a usual pairing at the time, Luck said, noting that it was rare for a singer to move from the stage to cantorial work. But throughout his career, Oysher would find ways to work in both realms.
"When I listened to his music, I knew right away this was the guy for me," said Luck, who was studying at Hebrew Union College in New York City at the time.
Oysher became Luck's muse for a full-length musical revue that he created as the final project in his graduate studies. The show, "Cantor Arik Luck is Moishe Oysher," which has been refined over the years since its debut more than five years ago, is coming to Westport Town Hall presented by Westport's Temple Israel and Norwalk's Temple Shalom. Luck, who is based in Chicago, will perform with his sister-in-law Sari Greenberg, who plays Oysher's wife, Florence Weiss (who was a co-star in several of his movies), and a seven-piece band from New York City.
More Information'Moishe Oysher'
What: "Cantor Arik Luck is Moishe Oysher"
When: Sunday, March 29, 3 p.m.
Where: Westport Town Hall auditorium, 111 Myrtle Ave.
Tickets: 12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, www.tuwestport.org
"I've tried to bring Moishe Oysher back to the people," said Luck, who recreates scenes from some of his movies and recording sessions during the concert.
Luck said he watched Oysher's movies and read reviews and books about Yiddish cinema that helped him bring Oysher to life. He also reached out to Oysher's niece, the comedian and actress Marilyn Michaels.
"It was all very helpful in getting a picture of what he was like on stage and in films."
The concert is sure to be a boon for Oysher fans, but organizers hope those new to this early 20th-century talent come out to see his work recreated. It is through Oysher that Luck hopes to bring this genre of entertainment to a whole new generation.
"It really is our heritage as Jews," he said, but added it is a legacy to be shared. "My mission is to bring relevance to this genre, particularly to members of the Jewish and non-Jewish community who don't know about it."
Luck said for the past several years he has been putting on a few concerts every year, as he also is a full-time cantor. This will be his first time in Connecticut after appearances in Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris and San Francisco, among other places.
Luck said the reactions have been gratifying, with some fans sharing how the music brought them back to their childhoods.
As for new fans, he said a typical question is, "Where can I hear more music like this?" That's music to his ears.
Christina.email@example.com; Twitter: @xtinahennessy