Ami and Tami, the musical, is the Hebrew version of the popular Grimm Brothers’ fairytale “Hansel and Gretel.” The readapted story is attuned to the reality of modern day Israeli teenagers, overstretched by the high hopes of their success-driven parents. Conceived in the realm of Bernstein’s West Side Story and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, the original score of Ami and Tami calls for a cast of seven actors, a dancing choir and a full orchestra.
The libretto was written by Shahar (Aya) Lavie and composed by Matti Kovler between 1997 and 1998. Musical influences included Bernstein’s West Side Story and parodies of well-known Soviet musicals. Orchestration was completed in 1999 under the guidance of Andre Hajdu. Largely due to the insistence and efforts of composer and educator Michael Wolpe, a full staged performance of the work, supported by the Israel Center for Excellence Through Education, took place in March that year at the Cummings Auditorium at IASA.
This hour and a half production of music theater involved a symphony orchestra comprised of IASA pupils and students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and more than 50 participants (actors, dancers and choir). It was performed by the students of the Israel Arts and Science Academy (IASA) in Jerusalem and recorded on a DVD.
Ami and Tami are two imaginative siblings living in a strict and ambitious family. Their parents object to the children’s foolish ideas and educate them to see wealth and success as the primary goals in life. The children are thus forbidden from playing in the ‘dark forest’ outside their house.
One night the children decide to disobey their parents’ orders and run off into the forest. Guided by a talkative troll named Impf and a cabaret of Singing Lice, they discover a wonder-world of adventures and magical creatures.
But the forest has its monsters too. After falling into the clutches of the Evil Giant Humm and Yaga the Witch, Ami and Tami narrowly escape with the help of their new friends. Back at home, the agonizing parents reconsider their ways. The ending scene shows the whole family joining in an imaginary game.
Premiere Performance (Israel Arts and Science Academy, Jerusalem)
Zvi Lanzman Shakdiel – Ami
Dana Duvdevan – Tammy
Eli Korenblit – Impf
Anat Greenberg – Yaga The Wicked Witch
Alex Yagudin – Humm the Evil Giant
Tehila Mazal – Mother
Arik Roginsky – Father
Choir from the Israel Arts and Science Academy– Singing Lice / Forest Dwellers
IASA Orchestra, conducted by Michael Wolpe
Stage Director, Choreography: Shahar (Aya) Lavie
Costumes: Channah Persoff
Soloists: Boy sopr, sopr, mezzo sopr, mezzo sopr, tenor, baritone, bass
Choir (singers and dancers)
3 fl/picc., 2 ob/engl. hrn, 2 cl/ bass cl, 2 bsn, 4 hns, 3 tpts in Bb, 3 trmbs, tuba, timp, perc (2 pl), pno, strings, electronics