MONTREAL — Rabbi Pinny Gniwisch has seen the abject poverty and violence of Brazil’s cities first hand. As a Chabad rabbi, he has travelled to Rio de Janeiro where millions live in shantytowns that teem with homeless children, exploited and sometimes callously murdered.
The father of six always felt helpless.
Never did he imagine that he might one day be able to do something to bring the plight of these people to wider attention, nor that he would be cast in the role of theatrical producer – on Broadway, or, at least, very close to it.
Rabbi Gniwisch is the producer of Rio, a new musical play written by Montrealer Mitch Magonet in collaboration with Joey Miller of Toronto.
Magonet was an adult student of Rabbi Gniwisch’s at the Chai Centre and an aspiring young composer who played music by ear when he came to the rabbi eight years ago with a song from a musical he was working on.
“I was so moved and captured by the raw emotional power and energy, at that moment, I made a commitment to Mitch to do whatever possible to help get this musical off the ground and onto a stage,” Rabbi Gniwisch said.
That moment will finally come when Rio premieres July 10 at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the first of six performances at St. Clements Theater on West 46th Street. It was one of 23 full productions chosen from among 400 entries. The annual festival is a showcase for promising new works, and has been the launching pad for many productions that went on to Broadway. continue...