The “Rock Star Rabbi,” whose accessible brand of Jewish music made him an unlikely pop star in the 1960s, is the subject of the ambitious new musical “Soul Doctor," The New York Post reported on Wednesday.
During his lifetime and perhaps even more since his death in 1994, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach — known widely as Reb Shlomo or simply Shlomo — is credited with reinvigorating Jewish life with uplifting song and spiritual teachings.
His fascinating trajectory is the basis of a Broadway-bound show, “Soul Doctor: The Journey of a Rock Star Rabbi,” the first new Jewish hit musical in decades.
Spanning 50 years (1938 to 1988), the show depicts Carlebach’s eventful life, from his childhood in Vienna, where his family witnessed the horrors of Kristallnacht to his emergence as a countercultural icon in 1960s Berkeley, California
A recurring theme throughout is his unlikely friendship with the black singer Nina Simone, the “High Priestess of Soul,” with whom he formed a deep connection via their shared love of music and their respective peoples’ history of persecution.
The show features nearly three dozen songs, most of them featuring Carlebach’s infectious melodies with new lyrics by Daniel Schechter. Their joyousness demonstrates the reasons for the performer’s success, which resulted in some 25 albums.
Taking the starring role is Eric Anderson who the Post claims is especially moving in depicting the performer’s constant struggle to reconcile his progressive brand of Judaism with his traditional beliefs.
Rabbi Carlebach’s daughter, Neshama, herself a successful recording artist is overseeing the production of the show.
The show opened off-Broadway on August 13.