Shimon Peres, The Musical

By Nathan Burstein

Published July 14, 2010, issue of July 23, 2010.
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He survived wars and political defeats before winning a Nobel Prize and Israel’s presidency. Soon he’ll experience it all again — this time, from a seat at one of Tel Aviv’s top theaters.

For his 87th birthday, Shimon Peres is being honored with a stage adaptation of his own life, a production featuring music taken from pivotal moments in his story. With the help of actors and musicians spanning several generations, the Cameri Theatre will stage the birthday show in August, bringing to the stage Peres’s early childhood in Poland, his arrival in Israel and his later work as a politician and diplomat.

An avid poet and songwriter in his spare time, Peres has agreed to both attend and participate in the production, offering suggestions on casting and content. The show’s soundtrack will draw from Peres’s personal history, incorporating Zionist youth anthems for early scenes and Barbra Streisand’s rendition of “Avinu MalKeinu” to honor his grandfather, who was killed in the Holocaust. (Peres is reportedly a big fan of the “Funny Girl.”) French chansons will be performed for a section about his recruitment of France to help build the Dimona nuclear reactor. And later triumphs will also receive their due, including Peres’s 1994 Nobel Peace Prize (shared with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat) and his 2007 election to the presidency.

Despite Peres’s input, the show shouldn’t be overly worshipful: The former prime minister has requested humorous elements, likely to be provided by Eli Yatzpan, a well-known TV comic and impersonator.

In addition to Peres, the audience will include handicapped veterans of the Israel Defense Forces and families of soldiers killed in action. Admission to the event will be free.


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