* Winner of the Edward L. Kleban Award for Most Promising Librettists
* New York Musical Theatre Festival Next Link Selection
* Winner of the Theater for the American Musical Prize
In the late 1960's, psychologists in Israel began to document about 200 cases a year of Westerners who, upon traveling to Jerusalem and experiencing the religious and historic sites there, suffer a mental breakdown and suddenly come to believe that they are God or the Messiah or a character from the Bible.
Most of those afflicted have deeply rooted psychological problems. Some, however—about 25 or 30 every year—are normal, regular people who have no psychological problems in their medical history. For them, the condition is temporary, and with proper medical treatment they snap out of it in three to seven days. Afterwards, they remember their delusion with some embarrassment but they go on to return to their normal, everyday lives and have no further psychiatric disturbances. It is this strain of the syndrome that the experts have labeled the Jerusalem Syndrome proper.
This new musical takes a comical look at this real-life psychological malady as it follows three separate characters on their journeys to Israel: a Columbia University professor who goes to Israel with her husband and comes to believe that she is Abraham’s wife, Sarah; a gay, African American man from South Beach who goes to Jerusalem for a real estate closing and "becomes" Jesus; and the klutzy son of a Cleveland travel company magnate who is leading a senior citizens tour of Israel when he suddenly "turns into" Moses.
During the course of this zany musical, their lives intertwine with each other—and with God, Eve, John the Baptist, Noah, King David and not one but two Virgin Marys, all of whom they meet in the psych ward at Hadassah Hospital.
The Jerusalem Syndrome is an outrageous musical comedy, but it is also a story of hope in which the characters come to see that today, just like in the times of their biblical alter egos, God is performing miracles all around us.
The Jerusalem Syndrome… If it weren't true, you'd never believe it.
Listen to the music from the show...
Book and Lyrics by
Laurence Holzman & Felicia Needleman
The following numbers were videotaped live when The Jerusalem Syndrome was presented in the New York Musical Theatre Festival:
News & Updates
Jerusalem Syndrome Among “Best of the Fest”. Read
Curtain Up review of NYMF production. Read
Edge review of NYMF production. Read
Broadway World review of NYMF production. Read
A Musical of Biblical Distortions. Read
Holzman & Needleman Win the Kleban Award. Read
The original New York Times article that inspired the show. Read
LAURENCE HOLZMAN & FELICIA NEEDLEMAN (BOOK & LYRICS) are the winners of the prestigious Kleban Award for Most Promising Musical Theatre Librettists, as well as ASCAP’s Sammy Cahn Award for Outstanding Lyricists.
The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) production of The Jerusalem Syndrome earned them the Theatre for the American Musical Prize for Most Promising Book Musical. They have been collaborating on the book & lyrics of musicals for many years, after first meeting in Modern Drama class at Columbia College. Other works include Wallenberg (music by Benjamin Rosenbluth; White Plains Performing Arts Center, NYMF and Equity Lab directed by Martin Charnin), That Time of the Year (music by Kyle Rosen and six other composers; off-Broadway premiere at the York Theatre Company; Original Cast Recording on JAY Records; currently licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide), Suddenly Hope (music by Morris Bernstein & Kyle Rosen; Stamford Center for the Arts, Garfield Theatre in La Jolla and Denver Civic Theatre) and I Married a Witch (music by Larry Applewhite; ASCAP Workshop), as well as the children’s musicals The Hudson River, We All Are America, and All the Same, with composer George Swietlicki.
They are also developing two original musical comedies, One Night and Making Ends Meet (music by David Shenton), as well as Suddenly a Song, a collection of their cabaret material. Laurence and Felicia are both alumni of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and members of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. In addition to his work with Felicia, Laurence is the co-author (with Marc Goldsmith) of the original play and screenplay, The Queen is in the Parlour, and the original screenplay, Fella. As a principal of Bard Theatricals, Laurence is one of the producers of the upcoming Broadway musical Jagged Little Pill and the off-Broadway hit comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong. Other producing credits include the recent Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof; David Mamet's China Doll starring Al Pacino; Kander & Ebb’s final musical, The Scottsboro Boys (Broadway and London); Looped, starring Valerie Harper; David Mamet’s The Anarchist starring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger; and the Latin American premiere of El Chico de Oz in Lima, Peru, starring Marco Zunino (Luces Award, Best Musical). Laurence is also a graduate of Columbia Law School and a member of the Board of Directors of the York Theatre Company. Felicia toured in 42nd Street as a member of Actor’s Equity, and was a featured performer with the A & G Dance Company.
For several years, she was on the faculty of Broadway Dance Center, where she taught tap. Her blog, UnwrittenRecipes.com, offering easy, delicious, family-friendly recipes, is steadily gaining in popularity.
KYLE ROSEN (MUSIC) composed music for That Time of the Year, the Holzman & Needleman revue of original Christmas and Hanukkah songs, which had its off-Broadway premiere in December 2006 at the York Theatre Company in Manhattan. Previously, he composed music for Suddenly Hope, an original musical comedy, which played at the Stamford center for the Arts,the Garfield Theatre in La Jolla, and the Denver Civic Theatre. Trained as a classical pianist, he has performed and composed music for numerous theatre, television and film projects. While attending Princeton University, he was president of the Princeton Triangle Club, composing and conducting many musical productions for them. Kyle is the recipient of the Milton Lyon Award for Songwriting. He is also an alumnus of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. When he is not writing music, Kyle manages a hedge fund that specializes in the options market. Kyle lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Layne, and their three children.
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