Jay Berkow
Director • Choreographer • Playwright • Educator



  JEWTOPIA,  Florida Studio Theatre    

If you're Jewish, related to a Jew, friends with a Jew or just can't get enough Barbra Streisand videos, you'll have a rollicking good time at “Jewtopia”, playing now at Florida Studio Theatre…  Jay Berkow's direction emphasizes the seriousness and silliness of just about everything on stage, and he wisely has his actors step away from consistent realism. (Mark Lieb, Creative Loafing Sarasota)

  OKLAHOMA!,  Circa ’21 Playhouse    

“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” is one of the most popular songs in the musical-theater playbook, and thanks to Adam Clough's rich baritone, the tune's upbeat lyrics get Circa '21's production of "Oklahoma!" off to a rousing start… an overwhelmingly crowd-pleasing production. (Jeff Dick, qconline.com)

    Jay Berkow has put together a company that sounds great and dances well.  The dance numbers are fresh and lively, showcasing a number of immensely talented dancers who don’t miss a step…  Loaded with great stretches of perfection – and starring a pair of leads that embody the essence of stardom, this “Oklahoma!” is a fine show that is simply too good to miss. (Ruby Nancy, Quad City Times)    
  WHAT A GLORIOUS FEELING,  Mason Street Warehouse    

Berkow has written some complex characters with believable conflicts, but one of the many delights of his script is the witty comments these characters make about their contemporaries such as Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire… Friday's audience loved it, applauding every dance number and jumping up for a standing ovation. If local response is any indication, "What a Glorious Feeling" is going places… As the script puts it, when Gene Kelly is dancing, it is "pure unadulterated joy."  (Sue Merrell, Grand Rapids Press)

    “Glorious Feeling” feels like Broadway in Michigan… Who shows up in little Saugatuck expecting a world premiere musical probing the psychosexual rivalries behind the 1952 Hollywood classic "Singin' in the Rain"? And who expects to see three serious Broadway dancers--including the statuesque Colleen Dunn, who played the famously jaw-dropping Girl in the Yellow Dress role in "Contact"--doing the probing?... This semi-factual show by Jay Berkow (the author of "Jolson and Company") explores the complex and combustible triangle between real-life showbiz figures Gene Kelly, Stanley Donnen and Jeanne Coyne… Fans of classic Hollywood dance would be nuts to miss this show.  (Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune)    
  JOLSON & COMPANY (Off-Broadway and Chicago)    

Intelligent, informative, winning new musical under the deft direction of Jay Berkow…  Jolson & Company does justice to the man and his music.  Mr. Hanan displays his considerable gifts in the portrayal of a charismatic show business legend... Nancy Anderson is remarkable… wickedly funny as Ruby Keeler… with hilarious incarnations of Mae West…  Robert Ari is splendid…  Jolson & Company is good company.  (Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times)

    It's a strikingly honest night. Most of us will have mixed legacies. The world's greatest entertainer was no different. To its great credit, the small-cast biographical revue "Jolson & Company" is a lot more accurate than all other Jolson bio-musicals. It acknowledges that Jolson was an egomaniac in perpetual fear of losing his power. And Jolson's blacking up (depicted at a rough moment in a life of marital turmoil) creates the best scene of the show. The credible premise here is that Jolson needed the makeup as a shield from the insecurity of Asa Yoelson, but that it ultimately became an obscuring and impenetrable trap that hurt his career. And in David Perkovich's moving little production at the Theatre at the Center, Michael Ehlers offers a haunted, desperate Jolson staring into the mirror and both needing and despising what he sees.  (Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune)    
  AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’,  Florida Repertory Theatre    

“Ain't’ Misbehavin’” is a brassy salute to Fats Waller…  This excellent cast has the Arcade Theatre truly jumpin’…  Under the direction of Jay Berkow, the show speeds by in two hours, but doesn’t skim over opportunities to slow down for a sultry groove.  The result proves a fine showcase for Waller’s music.  (Drew Sterwald, The News Press)

  THE MUSIC MAN, Gateway Playhouse    

This all-American “Music Man” hasn’t lost a step. “The Music Man” has a simplicity that even today sounds fresh and Director/Choreographer Jay Berkow plays it joyfully completely straight and the cast misses not a single awe-shucks moment… And Stephen Oremus’ orchestra sounds very nearly like 76 trombones.  (Steve Parks, Newsday)


Whether audiences choose to feel the jabs of Wilde’s satirical sword barely matters, for this Earnest is a huge amount of clever fun…  The production at American Stage, with strong acting and direction (plus an inspired bit of casting), does more than rise to the high standard of Wilde’s masterwork…  (Marty Clear, St. Petersburg Times)

  A LITTLE  NIGHT MUSIC, Western Michigan University    

WMU’s production exhibits a perfect balance of darkness and light in all of its marvelous sensory details... Kudos to director Jay Berkow for pulling together what is in essence a professional cast that could go head to head with a Broadway production…  They filled every interaction with compelling drama, every gesture, every line, every movement was infused with meaning that served they story… This musical is a sumptuous treat – it easily delivers everything great musical theatre should.  (Marin Heinritz, Kalamazoo Gazette)

  THE WILD PARTY,  Western Michigan University    

Sensual and sassy, WMU’s “Wild Party” lives up to its title…  Visually, the show is a feast and not merely because of the flesh and sensuality on display.  Jay Berkow’s choreography is first rate: witty, exciting and never repeating itself…  This production rocks the house with complex characters and amazing vocals.  (Ben Jones, Kalamazoo Gazette)

  PHANTOM, Clinton Area Showboat Theatre    

The Kopit-Yeston “Phantom” is a superb musical melodrama, enjoyable on every level.  Great music, sidesplitting comedy, heartbreaking tragedy, plenty of scary moments, and much more crammed side by side into this wonderfully entertaining show.  And the unlikely combination works perfectly…  Jay Berkow can definitely add this great musical production to his resume…  The multidimensional aspects of the show offer a perfect and perfectly entertaining whole.  (Ruby Nancy, Quad City Times)

  THE FANTASTICKS, Clinton Area Showboat Theatre    

CAST’s first show of the summer is “Fantastic” indeed!  The production features a relaxed and interactive style that really works…  It showcases some great performers, provides comic relief and snappy little dance steps…  Jill Paice and Blaine Hogan as Luisa and Matt are perfect and bring great emotion to their beautiful singing…  Director Jay Berkow and Music Director Jean Norton had to enjoy putting together a show with talent of this caliber and their own abilities are also obvious…  CAST’s production is enthusiastically recommended.  (Ruby Nancy, Quad City Times)

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