Featuring singing, dancing, and infectious live music, this Israeli take on the familiar tale of Hansel and Gretel is replete with new characters and surprising twists that will engage and delight both kids and adults alike.
Here you can listen to the music, read the story (and the back story), learn about the three production formats (from the smallest to the largest), check out the cast (English/Hebrew), browse through the reviews, watch video excerpts, support our upcoming album, contact us with booking questions, or just say hello.
Join Ami and Tami as they find their path in the forest, and discover how the power of imagination can bring a family together.
AMI AND TAMI
“The best day of my life so far”
Maya Reuven, 8 years old
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 time management, 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, however, they decide to disobey their parents’ orders and run off into the forest.
A colorful gang of Singing Lice appears, to help Ami and Tami leave a trail to show the way home.
But the forest has its monsters too. Ami and Tami fall into the clutches of the Evil Humm (a hungry, un-intelligent ogre)
Guided by the talkative Imf they discover a wonder-world of adventures and magical creatures.
...who decides to give them as a gift to his beloved, Yaga the Witch.
At night, while the children are locked in Yaga's cage, back at home their agonizing parents reconsider their ways.
With the help of Imf and the Singing Lice, Ami and Tami narrowly manage to escape. After the children return home, the whole family joins in an imaginary game.
THE BACK STORY
Back in 1997, composer Matti Kovler and lyricist Aya Lavie met at a Jerusalem high-school and plotted to create a parody on "Jewish mothers" inspired by Broadway and Soviet movie-musicals.
This is how 'Ami and Tami' was born. With guidance from Kovler's teacher, composer Andre Hajdu z"l, the musical fable was orchestrated.
In 1999, 'Ami and Tami' premiered in Jerusalem with a cast of enthusiastic students and friends, led by music director Michael Wolpe.
With the support of Bob Asher, a Chicago-based philantropist, Wolpe managed to assemble a full orchestra for the premiere, and
even convinced the school's administration to remove the first front rows of the Cummings Auditorium in order to create a Broadway style orchestra pit.
Shortly after the premiere, Kovler enrolled in mandatory 3-year military service. Subsequent attempts to stage the orchestral version of 'Ami and Tami' in Israel did not bear fruit, and the piece lay dormant for the next 16 years,
...until in 2014, when studying in Boston, Matti met the brilliant translator/musician/actor Spencer Garfield, and challenged him to try his hand at translating 'Ami and Tami's puns and clever word-play from Hebrew to English.
A residency with Boston University's Elie Wiesel Center provided an opportunity to workshop Garfield's playful translation, and with the help of 7 hand-picked versatile musician-actors, first English language performances were mounted.
Sold-out performances followed at Boston Children's Museum and American Repertory Theater's Club Oberon. In the audience for one of the shows was Ted Cutler, Boston's philantropist and founder of 'Outside The Box,' one of America's largest performing arts festivals.
Cutler, who started his own career as a musician and bandleader, saw the work's potential to engage a family audience, and decided to mount the full orchestral version as the 2015 festival's closing family act. The work was reorchestrated, and performed to great acclaim with Landmarks orchestra on the Boston Common.
In early 2016, the production travelled to California, with shows (Hebrew and English) at the Oshman JCC, Palo Alto. A new, reduced version of the orchestration (with 12 instruments), was created for these performances, made possible by Bonnie and Marty Tenenbaum.
With the help of an anonymous donor, and support from Floating Tower's Board and friends, we are now in the process of recording a bilingual (English and Hebrew) recording of the full, orchestral version. The album is forthcoming in spring 2017, stay tuned!
There are 3 different ways to perform Ami and Tami – from the smallest performance, suited to the most intimate venues (a school library with a piano), to a pit-orchestra sized version to a large stage version with a full orchestra.
No orchestra, the music is provided by the actors playing auxilliary instruments
Chamber Ensemble (12 musicians) on stage or in the orchestra pit
A family concert production with a full orchestra on stage or in the pit
The 2016 production has two casts (English and Hebrew) of seven versatile actors, who all sing, dance and play musical instruments. The English version is headlined by the Emmy award winning Television host Sonya Hamlin as Storyteller and Ami and Tami's composer, Matti Kovler performing the actual role of Composer on stage. The cast is joined by an ensemble of singing and dancing children as Singing Lice.
YAGA THE WITCH
YAGA THE WITCH
TIMES OF ISRAEL
“Kovler hit the jackpot with Sonya Hamlin, an Emmy award-winning actress, one-time television personality and influential educator who brought her lifelong stage presence and masterful storytelling to the role. Narrator Hamlin marveled at the way the story appeals to both children and their parents, who see themselves reflected in the satirical take on parental ambition. You could see the excitement in the eyes of the children in the audience, she said.
“We present it as a musical fable," Kovler said. "I stole the format from something they did at Children's Musical Theater in Moscow. They do musical symphonies to introduce children to classical music."My goal was to create something colorful, something the kids can relate to. There is only one operatic singer, the mother. Kids don't want an hour of just operatic stuff. The fact that we have different types of voices helps. A lot of the vocal production resembles cartoons.
“The clever wordplay and humor hit home for Druyan, a Boston-based Israeli singer and actress well known as the voice for a popular Israeli cartoon. Love of family proved a resonant theme for her, as did Kovler’s humorous inclusion of head lice — a perennial problem for Israeli children. Druyan has watched the show transform in its new translation. “It keeps some of its Israeli flair, but also makes it local,” she said.
pledged of $25,400 goal
A complete recording of the full orchestral version of Ami and Tami, in both English and Hebrew, is forthcoming in spring 2017.
With support from an anonymous donor, friends and audience members, Floating Tower has been able to hire and record an orchestra at the Jordan Hall in Boston.
We are now nearing the final stages of overdubs, mixing and mastering at WGBH studios, supervised by Antonio Oliart, the sound engineer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Please help us fund these final stages of this album! No contribution is too small.
Floating Tower operates under fiscal sponsorship of The Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, a registered 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.
To make a tax deductible donation, please send a check made out to:
Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity
2472 Broadway, Suite 331
New York, NY 10025
Please include in memo line:
For Ami and Tami