Isaac Babel and the Gangster King

Audience rating:

Horse Trade Theater Group (Heidi Grumelot, Artistic Director, Erez Ziv, Managing Director) will present the World Premiere of Denis Woychuk’s (Attorney for the Damned; owner of The Kraine Theater, The Red Room, and KGB Bar) historical musical, Isaac Babel and The Gangster King. The production will be directed by Stephen Vincent Brennan (Attorney for the Damned) with Costume Design by Cassandra Andrus, Music Direction by Denny Blake, Chorography by Diana Byrne, and Set Design by Crystal Taylor.

During the 1936 Moscow purges, five friends rehearse an operetta about the Jewish gangster Benya Krik, a folk hero made famous by the writer Isaac Babel, to be performed for Stalin’s cohorts that evening. Fiddler On The Roof meets The Godfather, in the operetta within a play that is Isaac Babel and the Gangster King.

Isaac Babel (1894-1940) was a Russian language journalist, playwright, literary translator, and short story writer. He is best known as the author of Red Cavalry, Story of My Dovecote, and Tales of Odessa (on which Isaac Babel and the Gangster King is based), all of which are considered masterpieces of Russian literature. Babel has also been acclaimed as "the greatest prose writer of Russian Jewry." Loyal to, but not uncritical of, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Isaac Babel fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge due to his long term affair with the wife of NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov. Babel was arrested by the NKVD at Peredelkino on the night of May 15, 1939. After "confessing", under torture, to being a Trotskyist terrorist and foreign spy, Babel was shot on January 27, 1940. The arrest and execution of Isaac Babel has been labeled a catastrophe for world literature.