Old Wicked Songs

When: Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sun., March 20, 2 & 7 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through April 3 2016

The song-cycle Dichterliebe by Robert Schumann, which used sixteen of Heinrich Heine's ironic Romantic poems as its lyrics, is about a poet falling in love with a young woman and then being jilted for another man. At the end of the piece, the poet decides he must bury all of the old bad songs in a coffin in the sea. It is this song-cycle the young American piano prodigy Stephen Hoffman must learn to sing if he is to break through his creative block. The assignment comes from his elderly Viennese vocal instructor, Professor Mashkan. Why does a pianist have to learn to sing, and why does Mashkan insist, betweeen bouts of anti-Semitic rhetoric, that Hoffman learn about the "sadness and joy" of real life if Hoffman is ever to understand his instrument? Jon Marans' play Old Wicked Songs is about art, identity and compassion; somewhere in there are the answers to Hoffman's questions. The New Jewish Theatre presents Old Wicked Songs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (March 17 to April 3) at the Jewish Community Center's Wool Studio Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; 314-442-3283 or There is an additional performance at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Tickets are $39.50 to $43.50.

Paul Friswold

Price: $39.50-$43.50