Friday, June 4, 2010


A bit of a tongue twister to the uninitiated to be sure. A simpler and briefer start to this is to tell you that it is now playing at the National Yiddish Theater (Folksbiene) in the Baruch Center for The Arts  in NYC (25th St. /Lexington Ave.).  The brief run ends on June 27.2010.

This is a musical play based on a real, supposedly, folk hero of a play written by Moishe Gershenson.  The cast includes--and not in order of appearance---Mike Burstyn (Hershelle), I W Firestone (Reb Kalmen) Dani Marcus (Tsipke), Daniella Rabbani (Dvoshe) and a bevy of other talented artists.

If the children of Tevya were orphans and one of them wanted to marry this might well have been her story.  A comedic tale in the tradition of Fiddler, Gilbert and Sullivan, and totally Yiddish in concept with music to add to that concept. And also totally equal to the power and story line of Fiddler on the Roof thanks to this brilliant cast and the interpretation of the director.

An opening number featuring the entire cast singing the number in Yiddish and each chorus of that in English is musically brilliant and then shifts to the entrance of the two lovers singing entirely in Yiddish (fear not---supertitles in English and Russian (?) for that and the rest of the show.  Enter, then, our hero---Hershelle (Mike Burstyn) in a number that will floor anyone who sees it. 

The two lovers have, of course, a problem and the only thing standing in their way is Reb Kalmen---the Pawnbroker who holds the ring of the girl's grandmother that is needed for the wedding and can only be returned to her. She, however, is dead.    

What transpires to bring off a wonderful wedding thanks to Hershelle and to the many characters he creates to fool, not only, Reb Kalman, the pawnbroker and miser (I W Firestone), Genendl (Lori Wilner), Zaydl (Steve Sterner) and the redemption of Kalman in the likes of Scrooge is a wonderful tale filled with some joyous music that will have everyone's feet tapping.

While Mike Burstyn will totally grab you with his solo numbers---and even his Michael Jackson "moonwalk"--there are numbers that have the power to move you in so many ways---Meshuge, Koynim (where are the Customers) , and so many more.  

Eleanor Reissa directed and choreographed this production and Zalmen  Mlotek (with thanks to his mother for initially starting the project---years ago) is the musical director for the Folksbiene.

The credits could go on for a long time since the lighting, stage setting, and all the other accoutrement need for for such a production are endless but, suffice it to say, here are some credits"

Lighting:   Kirk Brookman
Costumes   Gail Cooper Hecht
Scenic Designer: Roger Hanna

This production runs through June 27 and tickets can be purchased by calling 646 312-5073 or go to

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