Broadway's Desert Rose

An English-language theater company presents a musical about the Great White Way.

July 3, 2013 14:50
3 minute read.
Broadway Babes, a Desert Rose Production

Broadway Babes, a Desert Rose Production. (photo credit: Ofer Linevitz)

Every year, thousands of Israelis travel to London and New York for a vacation or to visit family. While there, like most other tourists, they will go to the West End or Broadway to catch one of the many glitzy musicals on offer there. What many of those Israelis don’t know is that they have high-quality original musical theater in English right here on their doorstep.

According to Daniella Roman, native Israelis, as well as Englishspeaking olim, don’t have to leave the country to satisfy their craving for topclass musicals performed in English. Roman, who founded Desert Rose Productions with her husband Grant Crankshaw, says that the English-language theater company is making its debut with a national tour of its highly successful show Broadway Babes.

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“It’s an original musical revue that showcases some of the most popular and well-known female songs on Broadway,” she says. “It received rave reviews when it played to full houses in Ra’anana in 2011.”

While the show struck a chord with many of the local Anglos, she was surprised by the level of interest shown by native Israelis.

“They love the songs,” she says. “It’s not important if they don’t understand English – it’s the songs that they know.”

It was the response to the Ra’anana shows that inspired Roman and her husband to take the show on a tour of the country to expose it to different audiences.

She stresses the importance of getting the name of the company and the show out there and widening its reach.

“It’s obvious that there is an English-speaking audience out there, and we want to go to them even if they can’t come to us,” she says.

Roman and Crankshaw, both professional actors, have been involved in the English-speaking theater scene in Israel since making aliya from South Africa in 1997. As professional actors having studied Drama at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, they were disappointed to find that the English-language theater scene in Israel was comprised mainly of community theater groups.

“As professional actors, we were always on the look-out for a more professional environment in which we could practice what were trained to do and what we are passionate about,” explains Roman.

The couple have had to overcome a number of hurdles in order to realize their dream of creating a company made up of English-speaking theater professionals. While Broadway Babes is not based on the pair’s lives, it does bear some resemblance. The musical highlights the relationships between and challenges faced by six women in their quest to pursue their Broadway dreams.

The show revolves around an audition for a Broadway production and tells the story of six very different women who compete and interact with each other and the director, leading to humorous and sometimes catty situations.

In true Israeli style, the cast of Broadway Babes is a melange of nationalities, bringing together talents from Canada, the US, England, South Africa and Israel.

Even though the company is professional and not amateur, the actors have agreed to perform on a voluntary basis, explains Roman.

“Every member of the cast has contributed in some way to the development of the show, instilling the production with an atmosphere of camaraderie and fun,” she says.

It’s not all about jazz hands and glitzy costumes at Desert Rose Productions. Even those wearing the not-so-glamorous uniform of the IDF are encouraged to attend. The company has started a fund-raising initiative through Jewcer to send lone IDF soldiers to see the show. As part of the project, people locally and abroad can contribute to the well-being of lone soldiers and help them relax in their spare time.

“My brother served in the IDF as a lone soldier, and it made me very aware of the difficulties and the challenges that he faced,” explains Roman. “Combining my passion for theater with a cause such as the IDF that is near to my heart is a dream come true for me.”

Broadway Babes will be performed in Ma’alot Tarshiha on July 18; Jerusalem on July 20; Modi’in on July 24; Ra’anana on July 25; Givatayim on July 27; and Beersheba on August 1. For more information and to purchase tickets, see or call 077-718-1212.

(Disclaimer: A member of the Staff team will be performing in the show)

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