Monday, January 26, 2015

Off-Broadway Review: Wiesenthal

Tom Dugan. Photo: Carol Rosegg

A Visit with the ‘Jewish James Bond’
By Lauren Yarger
The man who brought more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice is brought to life Off-Broadway by Tom Dugan, who stars in Wiesenthal, the one-man play he penned about the Holocaust survivor-turned-human-rights activist.

Set on the eve of his retirement in 2003, Simon Wiesenthal packs up his office at the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, Austria (designed by Beowulf Boritt) and reflects on his life and successes in hunting down Nazi war criminals.  

Shame was a most dangerous force, he recalls, and he tells his story in the hope that hearing it will keep history from repeating itself.

He gives voice not only to the more than 6 million Jews who lost their lives, but also to an additional 5 million Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Gypsies, disabled persons and others whom Hitler targeted for extinction.

The play, presented in 90 minutes without intermission, touches on Wiesenthal’s passions: his determination to bring Nazis to justice and his resolve to live a life of purpose and love with his family. This, he tells us, exacts the perfect revenge.

Directed by Jenny Sullivan, Dugan gives a solid performance, moved by his own passion for the subject.

"I am thrilled to make my New York debut with Wiesenthal," Dugan said. "My father was a WWII veteran who received The Bronze Battle Star and The Purple Heart. He liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in 1945.  Although I was raised Irish Catholic, I later married a Jewish woman, and now we are raising our two boys in the Jewish faith, so Simon Wiesenthal's message of tolerance has a deep resonance for me considering my father's place in Jewish history and my future in the Jewish community.”

The play itself could use a few tweaks – it doesn’t touch on any of the controversy associated with Wiesenthal and there is an unnecessary tease about his “final question.” Also, some staging, obviously inserted to give the actor something to do, interrupts the flow.

Otherwise it is a great opportunity to learn more about history and about the “The Jewish James Bond” who helped shape it. Most compelling is a scene where Wiesenthal talks about Adolph Eichmann, an average man and bookkeeper, who became one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. A photo of the criminal is chillingly lighted (design by Joel E. Silver) while the actor speaks about the man who sent Jews on the trains to the death camps. Wiesenthal was instrumental in tracking down Eichmann at his Buenos Aires hideaway and bringing him to court, where he was tried, found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.

The production recently posted a closing date of Feb. 22, so catch it while you can. As a special bonus, the producers of Wiesenthal invite survivors of the Holocaust to attend an upcoming performance as their guest, and offer a special $45 ticket for friends and family to share the experience with them. To arrange for tickets, e-mail with your request at least one week prior to your preferred performance date (subject to availability).

Wiesenthal plays at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St., NYC. Performances: Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets: $69; (212) 239-6200.

Christians might also like to know:
-- No content notes, but difficult material, so think older when thinking kids.

No comments:
Create A Buzz About Your Book
Custom Search
Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

All Posts on this Blog