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1970s Indie Film ‘Hester Street’ to Be Adapted for Stage

Producers Michael Rabinowitz and Ira Deutchman have optioned the stage rights to the 1975 indie-film success “Hester Street,” planning to produce a New York theatrical adaptation of the title in consultation with the movie’s writer-director, Joan Micklin Silver (“Crossing Delancey”).

An early victory in the industry for a female filmmaker, “Hester Street” rang in more than $6 million at the box office, which represented a robust take for an independent film in the 1970s. Star Carol Kane snagged an Oscar nomination for her turn as a young Jewish immigrant who has trouble assimilating into her new life on the Lower East Side. Doris Roberts and Steven Keats also appeared in the film, based on an 1896 novella by Abraham Cahan.

The stage version is intended to be a play with music — that is, a straight play that incorporates live musical performances. Deutchman said he and Rabinowitz have begun discussions with a handful of playwrights about the possibility of penning the adaptation, adding that in their current conception of the show’s development, they would initially develop the production in partnership with a New York nonprofit in the hopes of eventually shepherding the project to Broadway.

Rabinowitz is a theater producer who’s worked at organizations including Broadway Across America and the Public. For “Hester Street” he’s teamed with independent film veteran Deutchman, a longtime producer, distributor and marketer.

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