Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Were They Thinking?

Find out in the commentary track of The Rothschilds. Tomorrow Rich, Doak, Joe and I will be talking about the things we were thinking, or not, as the video plays through. Matt Ottinger has graciously agreed to host us at his studio, produce the DVD and make it available to you free of charge! What a guy!!! Thank you Matt. We did this for 1776 and had such a blast.

Hear! Hear!

Congratulations to The Rothschilds' Barney Winners:

Colleen Bethea....Best Lead Actress in a Musical,
Joe Baumann...Best Supporting Actor in a Musical,
Scott Larson, Simon Tower, Joe Baumann, Logan Emlet, Danny Bethea...Best Ensemble
Mary K Hodges Nees...Best Costumes
Ray and Melody Kurtis...Properties

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Twinkling High in the Theatre Sky A Newly Risen Star"

Congratulations to this years Thespie winners from the cast of the Rothschilds;

Doak Bloss Best Lead Actor in a Musical
Joe Baumann Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Mary K Nees-Hodges Best Costumes
Dan Moore Best Hairstyles and Wigs
Joel Reynolds, Dominic Redman, Nic Roberts, Lexie Roberts: Outstanding Child Actor: Ensemble of The Rothschilds
Jane Falion Best Director of a Musical

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Drink of the Gods

Today, the name Rothschild is synonymous with the best wine in the world.

In an early scene of the musical Young Nathan sells a 6 bottles of Rothschild's own red wine to a customer with the sales pitch, "This is wine! Take a little sip, give your mouth a holiday."

A little literary license used here since Rothschilds didn't get into the wine business for another 35 years.

"In 1853 Nathaniel de Rothschild purchased Château Brane Mouton and renamed it Château Mouton Rothschild.

Not to be outdone by his son-in-law, in 1868, Baron James secured the neighbouring Château Lafite, one of the four great premier grand cru estates of France. It was the ultimate statement of Frenchness for James, born 76 years before in the Frankfurt ghetto. Having achieved it, he died within weeks.

Château Lafite Carving of Bacchus Château Mouton Rothschild

A friendly rivalry has always existed between these two estates. In the 1920s Philippe de Rothschild, great-grandson of Nathaniel, took on the management of Mouton. He brought with him a new vigour and imaginative innovations. In 1973, Mouton joined Lafite as a premier grand cru, two of the world's finest wines side by side on the slopes of Pauillac. "

The wine bottles are distinguished by the many world renowned artists whose work has graced the Rothschild wines since 1924.

Rothschilds Opens

A month ago I used this space plug a jewelry show I had squeezed into my all consuming Rothschild rehearsal schedule and I am embarrassed to discover that it was also my last post about the show.

At this point the show has opened! And what a show it is. A sweeping, glorious magnificant epic tale of an extraordinary family. 10 weeks of rehearsal, 30 cast members, 29 crew, 1 sparkling, magnificant crystal chandelier, 1 intrepid costumer and 10 assistants and 90 costumes later the Rothschilds burst onto the stage at Riverwalk in a grand way.

Audiences and reviewers have been enthusiastic in their praise. Come see what the buzz is all about this upcoming weekend at Riverwalk Theatre


JUNE 11-14

7 pm Thursday, 8 pm Friday and Saturday, 2 pm Sunday
TICKETS AT 482-5700

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

People in High Places

Karl Buderus, aide to Prince William was the link that Mayer needed to connect him to the Prince's business ventures. Buderus began his career as a tutor to William's illegitimate son by Dorothea Ritter. He moved up into through the financial operations of the Prince and at 33 was appointed to the prestigious post in the War Chest.

The first sign of tacit cooperation between Buderus and Rothschild was in 1794 when Buderus recommended that Mayer be allowed to join five other financiers in bidding for the sale of some English bills.

Unfortunately,the recommendation was ignored but in 1796 Buderus tipped off Mayer that he should offer some bonds to the War Chest at a lower price than the other two financiers. That relatively small sale gave Mayer a foothold into William's vast holdings. In the years following Mayer steadily increased his share of William's investment business. He was involved in as many as 11 major loans, purchased real estate for the Prince, and continued to supply him with the medals for his precious medal collection.

During the French occupation Buderus made the hazardous trip through French lines to successfully smuggle out bonds held by William.

In addition to the bonds left to Mayer, William himself smuggled out chests of valuables; 24 chests of securities, coupons, silver and clothes were hidden under the staircase in the north wing of his castle, 24 more stuffed with the War Chest papers were concealed in another part of Wilhelmshohe, in the cellar of a nearby building another 24 chests held more papers, porcelain, and clothing, two friends secured another 29 chests. Finally, at his hunting lodge, William hid 47 chests of silverware.

Buderus and Mayer continued their friendship and business partnership throughout their lives.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Pillar of Society

Nathan Rothschild was a formidable presence in London.

Frederick Morton says, "Napoleon on the battlefield was clad in no more dread mystery than Nathan Rothschild on the Royal 'Change. Like Napoleon, he always materialized in the same pose: he leaned against the 'Rothschild pillar' (the first one on the right as one entered from the Cornhill entrance), hung his heavy hands into his pockets, and began to release silent motionless, implacable cunning."

His calm never left him. "It was his armor against the high world over which he was ruler without ever having been its equal.

The story goes that one day there swept through Nathan's offices in London an august ducal personage. He wore a visage of such fury that no clerk dared to stay him. He broke into Nathan's private chamber and shouted his grievance. Nathan, not lifting an eye from his ledger said, 'Take a chair.' The personage roared his ancient lineage, his illustrious connection, slapped down a crested card before the banker's nose. Nathan glanced at the card for a fraction of a second.
'Take two chairs,' and he continued writing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jew, Do Your Duty

Jud, mach mores! Jew, do your duty!

If a Jew heard these words he was obliged-even if uttered by a mere boy- to doff his hat and step to one side.

This was only one of many restrictions placed on the Jews of Frankfurt. The population of the ghetto was restricted to 500 families. Only 12 marriages were allowed a year and the age of marriage was 25. No more than 2 Jews from the outside were allowed to settle in the ghetto each year.

Jews were not permitted to live outside the ghetto. They had to wear an identifying insignia, were confined ever night, on Sundays, and Christian holidays.
They were not permitted to walk in town more than two abreast. They were barred from entering parks, inns, coffee houses, promenades, or near the town's ancient cathedral.

They could only go to the market during set hours and were forbidden from touching vegetables and fruits.

The fight for Jewish rights is central to the story in The Rothschilds.
Even after they become bankers to royalty they are still forced to live behind the ghetto gates.

Amshel expresses this frustration when he says:

This whole experience has taught us what we can do and what we can't. We thought we were Moses leading our people out of slavery. We're not. We're only merchant bankers. We have no miracles at our disposal.

They put their entire fortune at risk to force Metternich to follow through on his promise to eliminate the Jewish restrictions.

Nathan: Metternich's group has its monies invested in a new peace bond, counting on the rise in price. What if, just as they release their new bond...we dump our old bonds on the market, driving the price down....

Solomon: Nathan, if you're're advocating suicide.

Nathan: No we can force Metternich and company to give us everything we've been promised.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Herries Here, John Herries"

In 1813 Nathan became a close associate of the British Commissary General, John Charles Herries, the man responsible for financing Wellington's invasion of France.

John Herries worked his way up through the ranks of government. During his tenure as Commissary General he used the help of Nathan to transfer money to the British and allied army troops on the continent. No easy feat.
Rothschild's role in these transfers was one of the foundations that led to the success of the English banking empire.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pleasure and Privilege

"Pleasure and Privilege" is not just some clever song title Harnick and Bock devised for their very haughty song about the uppercrust of society.

"Privilege" was actually a law upon which the whole French system of government was based. "Privilege" were private laws that only applied to "you." It was a special entitlement or immunity granted to a restricted group either by birth or on a conditional basis.

One of the objectives of the French Revolution was he abolition of privilege. This meant removing the different laws for different social classes so all would be ruled by common law.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Daughters, I Need Daughters"

Well that's not exactly what Mayer said. "Sons, I need sons." is what he really said.

Gutele asks at the beginning of the play, "What if they are daughters?" and later Prince William says, "And time you come to bring some daughters."

Just idle dialogue from the authors? Not likely.

So did Mayer have any daughters? Absolutely, remember the will? Mayer and Gutele had 10 children; 5 sons and 5 daughters-Schonge Jeannette, Isabella, Babette, Julie, and Henrietta.

Back to the will; Mayer stipulated that none of the daughters or their future husbands could inherit the family business. So you can imagine where that leaves the women and their daughters. Solomon's son Amselm married Nathan's daughter Charlotte, Kalman's son Mayer married Nathan's daughter Louise (poor Louise and Kalman- they had 7 children- all girls), Nathan's son Nathaniel married Jacob's daughter Charlotte. Nieces married uncles, cousins married cousins and it was kept all in the family. Actually not that unusual during this time period.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Rothschild for Today

The current issue of The New Yorker has an article entitled "Message in a Bottle" about 30-year-old David de Rothschild, 21st Century descendant of Mayer, who this summer will begin a voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, in a boat made entirely out of plastic bottles and other recycled materials. Along the way he will visit the "Eastern Garbage Patch," a piece of the ocean that epitomizes the threat plastics pose to birds, turtle, and fish. De Rothschild's "eco-trip" will transmit photos and video clips to his Adventure Ecology website. Both the trip and the vessel--named the "Plastiki"--are inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's voyage in the Kon Tiki 62 years ago.

David is the son of the manager of the British branch of the banking empire, which could indicate he's one of Nathan's ancestors; on the other hand, the "de" in his name would indicate he came from the French branch of the family.

Younger members of our cast (and their parents) may identify with the article's depiction of David as a child. He is described by both his parents as a classically hyperactive kid, constantly getting into trouble and jumping out of windows. But when taken to a psychiatrist for an evaluation, he sat quietly and listened patiently for the entire session. Then, back in the elevator as they left the office, he immediately punched all the buttons on the elevator panel to show his parents who was in charge. His brother Andrew describes their shared childhood as having been shaped by David's restlessness and disregard for danger: "I was constantly saying, 'No, don't do that, don't do that!" Risk-taking remains in the blood, two hundred years after the events of our play.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Private Arcadia

See the couples dancing
To flute and violin
Aren't you rather jealous that you
can't come in?

A world of pleasure and privilege
elegant, elite
A private Arcadia
Where life is sweet.

Arcadia; the mystical Greek mountain refuge . One of the birthplaces reported for Zeus is Mount Lycaeum in Arcadia.

It was also said to be the birthplace of Zeus' son Hermes.

Arcadia was a rustic secluded area and its inhabitants symbolized the simple pastoral life and may refer to some imaginary idyllic paradise immortalized by Virgil's Eclogues. The area was conquered and reconquered and after 400. years of Ottoman occupation it became the center of the Greek War of Independence.

Along with its reference by Harnick and Boch there are dozens of references in pop culture. Arcadia was a band created as a project by the 80's band Duran Duran. In a Doctor Who episode the Doctor mentions being "there at the fall of Arcadia, in the video game BioShock, "Arcadia" is the name of an area in one of the levels, with an artificial forest touted as a vacation paradise. In the film 300 Leonidas is joined by a group of Arcadians to help him fight the Persians. There is a militaristic empire known as Archadia in Playstation 2 Game Final Fantasy. You'll see references to Arcadia in The X Files, The Legend of Zelda, the game Battle of Olympus, Stardust Classics children's fantasy novels and the list goes on.

In 1772, the private Arcadia in the Rothschild's was a reference to the pampered, privileged lives of the aristocratic court; costly clothes, carefree lives, pampered faces, fragrant powdered and scented figures, "the gay and gilded sphere."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Prettier Little Congress

"Have you ever seen
A prettier little Congress
Than this Congress at Aix La Chapelle?"

"Have you ever seen
Faces more noble
Manners more courtly
Bearing more stately!"

Aix-La-Chapelle was considered the Byzantine capitol of Europe. The German name for the city is Aachen.

Charlemagne chose the capitol for the imperial court because of its nice warm springs and its central location bordering Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The remains of Charlemagne are said to be buried here.

Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were often crowned here when they couldn't get to Rome.

Pippin, the Younger , of the musical PIPPIN, spent Christmas and Easter here in 765 and Charlemagne made it his home from 792-814.

It has been the sight of three major Treaties and three Congresses.

The Congress of Aix-La-Chapelle in The Rothschild's song above was held in the autumn of 1818. It was primarily a meeting of the four allied powers: Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia attended by amongst others Prince Metternich of Austria, the Duke of Wellington, Alexander I of Russia and Frederic Wilhelm III, King of Prussia.

The Congress was held to discuss the withdrawal of the army of occupation from France.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Will the Real The Saxon Queen Please Stand

As the Rothschild boys vie for their father's favor and with each other for the plum assignment of being posted in England they try to outdo each other with their wealth of knowledge

Jacob: Poppa-please-ask me anything about England I know it all!
Mayer: Who was the Saxon Queen who led the uprising against the Romans
Kalman: Bodecia!

The real Saxon Queen is known by many names but as Will said, "a rose still a rose..." She was known by the Romans as Boudicca, medieval monks called her Boadicea, but most know her as Boudica.

A tall woman with red hair down to her hips, with a harsh voice and piercing glare she was from the aristocratic Brittannie Icenic tribe whose woman fought alongside the men.

Boudica had her thorny side. She married Prasutugus the King of present day Norfolk, England. Roman law only allowed inheritance through the male line. But upon his death Prasutugus tried to preserve his line through his daughters by leaving them his land. The Romans confiscated the land and treated the nobles like slaves.

Boudica complained and when she did she was publicly flogged and fthen forced to watch as her daughters were raped. Boudica became the leader of a violent uprising against the Romans that ultimately failed. "According to one report almost 80,000 Britons fell compared to 400 Romans" in the battle. According to Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of the time, Boudica poisoned herself rather than be taken prisoner.

It is interesting to note that Mayer Rothschild stipulated in his will that only the men, and only Rothschild men, could inherit .

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rothschilds Cast

Congratulations to the Cast of The Rothschilds. I am very pleased to announce the following roles:

Mayer........................ Doak Bloss
Gutele........................Colleen Bethea
Young Amshel.......... Joel Reynolds
Young Solomon.........Dominic Redman
Young Nathan........... Nic Roberts
Young Jacob.............. Lexie Roberts
Amshel ...................... Scott Larson
Solomon.................... Simon Tower
Nathan...................... Joseph Baumann
Jacob......................... Logan Emlet
Kalman...................... Danny Bethea
Hannah ............... ..... Sarah Sonnenberg
Prince Wm/ ...............T. E. Klunsinger
Fouche/...................... Jeff Massey
Buderus...................... Tony Zappa
Blum........................ .. Alan Bloomfield
Mrs. Kaufman...........Theresa Spisak
Mrs. Segal................... Mara Schaberg
Mrs. Feldman............. Laura Johnson
Mrs. Goodman...........Charlotte Ruppert
Mrs. Greenberg..........Lindsay Palinsky
Mrs. Rosen.................Donna Green
Urchin........................ Chris Bethea
Urchin........................Nick Boyd
Banker....................... Matt Szymanski
Banker ....................... Paul Gordon
Vendor................ Matt Lago
Vendor............... .Rich Helder
Vendor.................Patrick Monroe
Pauper................Lindsay Palinsky

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If I Were a Rothschild

Sound familiar?


What? It's "If I Were a Rich Man" you say?

Actually, the name of the Aleichem story on which Fiddler is based was entitled "If I Were a Rothschild!"

The Rothschild name is still associated today with extreme wealth around the world and particularly in Israel.

In the Hebrew language the title of this song is 'lu ha'yiti Rothschild meaning " If I Were a Rothschild." Ven ich bin a Rothschild is it's Yiddish title.

So really, the signature song and opening number known to many and sung (biddy biddy bim) by many, really is "If I Were A Rothschild"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why Another Jewish Show?

"'re writing another show about a Jewish family, eh?" Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock were asked.

Their easy answer was, "Why not?" But that answer was not the real story.

That answer would not begin to do justice to the true, exciting and amazing story of the Rothschild family.

In fact, Bock and Harnick's interest in The Rothschild's story predates their interest in Sholem Aleichem's story that would be the basis for Fiddler on the Roof.

Not long after the huge success of Frederick Morton's bestselling book, The Rothschilds, the musical pair were contacted about writing the musical score to accompany an already written libretto. However, they declined the offer when they found this libretto uninspiring and unable to capture the excitement they had found in Morton's biography.

They began to look around for other projects and discovered Sholem Aleichem. They went on to write the musical Fiddler on the Roof based on the Aleichem story and followed with The Apple Tree.

They were once again approached about writing the musical score for The Rothschilds this time with a new book written by Sherman Yellen. They agreed that the new book was "exceptionally witty and imaginative" and jumped into the project..

They resolved to make the show as unlike Fiddler as possible and there they succeeded magnificently. Although both shows are about poor Jewish families the similarities stop there. The show spans decades from the Frankfort ghetto to the fairgrounds, a glittering palace of a German prince, to the London stock exchange, and finally to an elegant ballroom where the crowned heads of Europe have gathered.

The songs rather than very Russian and Slavic are in the "18th and 19th century style. by autocratic Germans, French soldiers, London brokers, Austrian royally, European nobility and the Rothschild family."

This rags to riches Cinderella story happens amidst the color and excitement of the Napoleonic era.

So the real answer to the question is, "Mayer Rothschild was subjected to the humiliation and deprivation of the ghetto. He managed, nonetheless, to give his five sons a better start in life than he had himself. What he did and why he did it are the story elements that make this tale so relevant and so worth telling today. And that is why we're writing another show about a Jewish family."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Musical Clips and Cast Vocal Requirements

Please check the following site for musical clips. Check out CASTING for a full description of the cast and the vocal requirements for each role.

Sunday, February 15, 2009



Sunday, March 22 3-6 Children's Auditions for Young Rothschild sons
Sunday, March 22 7-11 Adult Auditions
Monday, March 23 7-11 Adult Auditions

Please come prepared with a musical number. There will be an accompanist available. Scripts are available to check out at Riverwalk Theatre, 482-5700.

14 Men, 6 Women, 5 Boys (8-16)

Roles for all ages, predominately men, multiple roles for actors throughout the musical, large ensemble scenes as well as dance numbers.

The Rothschilds is the sweeping saga of Europe's most famous family from their confinement in the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto to their triumphant domination of European finances.